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Title: Neolithic diet at the Brochtorff circle, Malta
Authors: Richards, Michael P.
Walton, I.
Stoddart, Simon
Malone, Caroline
Hedges, R.E.M.
Keywords: Neolithic period -- Malta
Issue Date: 2001
Citation: European journal of archaeology. 2001, Vol. 4(2), p. 253-262
Abstract: From Neolithic Malta, there is evidence of increasing population size accompanied by increasingly elaborate material culture, including the famous megalithic architecture. Stoddart et al. (1993) argued that social tensions and controls increased as food resources diminished. One important requirement of this argument is that the Neolithic inhabitants of Malta depended entirely on domesticated plants and animals for subsistence and therefore, with increased population sizes, the poor agricultural potential of these islands was stretched. However, it is possible that the consumption of wild foods, particularly marine resources, in the Neolithic would make up any shortfall in the agricultural foods. A direct way of measuring the amounts of marine protein in human diets is through chemical analysis of human bone. Stable isotope analyses undertaken on seven Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon dated humans from the Neolithic at the Brochtorff Circle indicated that there is no evidence for the significant use of marine foods by these Neolithic individuals. These new data indicate that agricultural foods were the dietary staple for this sample of the Maltese Neolithic populations and therefore support the argument that increasing population during the Neolithic could have resulted in increasing resource stress.
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