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1 October 2012 Isotopic Analyses of The Domestic Animals of Norse Greenland
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To provide a basis for the isotopic dietary study of the Greenland Norse, and as an interesting study in itself, measures of the stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope ratios were obtained for 118 samples of archaeological bone from 6 species of the Norse domestic animals. These samples were obtained from museum faunal collections representing archaeological excavations of 10 Norse sites, five in each of the two Norse settlements in Greenland. In general, the carbon isotope values for the herbivores of dietary importance (cattle, sheep, and goats) were as expected for animals living in a C3 environment. The nitrogen isotope data hint at differing field management practices between the two settlements. There is no isotopic evidence for any unusual pastoral adaptation to conditions in Greenland, or for any change in animal management over the lifetime of the settlements. A few pigs form an exception to this statement, but they are peripheral to the Norse dietary economy. These data provide a solid first data set on which to base isotopic dietary analyses of the Norse settlers themselves.

D. Erle Nelson, Jan Heinemeier, Jeppe Møhl, and Jette Arneborg "Isotopic Analyses of The Domestic Animals of Norse Greenland," Journal of the North Atlantic 2012(sp3), 77-92, (1 October 2012).
Published: 1 October 2012

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