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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Variability in stable isotope ratios in two Late-Final Jomon communities in the Tokai coastal region and its relationship with sex and ritual tooth ablation

Kusaka, Soichiro; Ikarashi, Takeyuki; Hyodo, Fujio; Yumoto, Takakazu; Katayama, Kazumichi


We analyzed stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios in a Sample Of human an(] nonhuman mammal bones excavated from the Yoshigo and Inariyama shell mounds of the Late-Final Jomon periods in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, with I view to determining individual dietary differences. To investigate possible reasons for the dietary variations identified, we related isotope ratios to sex and tooth ablation patterns. At both sites, large intra-site variations delta C-13 and delta C-15 values were found, compared with other Jomon Populations previously Studied, suggesting higher than usual levels of dietary variability. and at both sites there was a positive correlation between) delta C-13 and delta C-15 N values. The diet of the Jomon people at both these sites had two main protein Sources: marine (marine finfish and shellfish) and terrestrial (C-3 plants and terrestrial mammals) protein. The intra-site variability is probably explained by Consumption of these resources in different proportions. Analysis of the Yoshigo shell Mound data indicated that sex is one of the factors determining dietary difference. It was also found that individual differences in diet in Yoshigo males are greater than in females. This pattern was repeated in the Inariyama shell Mound data. Dietary differences were found to be related to ritual tooth ablation characteristic,,, particularly in males. At Inariyama, type 41 ritual tooth ablation was associated with comparatively greater dependency on terrestrial resources, while type 2C tooth ablation was associated with greater dependency oil marine resources. This may indicate that type 41 males engaged predominantly in hunting, and type 2C males in fishing, as a means of food acquisition. These results are possibly the earliest evidence Of Occupational differentiation in the Jomon people.


Jomon period; diet; stable isotopes; ritual tooth ablation; prehistoric subsistence

Published in

Anthropological Science
2008, Volume: 116, number: 2, pages: 171-181

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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