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Crop Fertility Conditions in North-Eastern Gaul During the La Tene and Roman Periods: A Combined Stable Isotope Analysis of Archaeobotanical and Archaeozoological Remains


Crop Fertility Conditions in North-Eastern Gaul During the La Tene and Roman Periods: A Combined Stable Isotope Analysis of Archaeobotanical and Archaeozoological Remains



Environmental Archaeology 23(4): 323-337



ISSN/ISBN: 1461-4103

DOI: 10.1080/14614103.2017.1291563

Considerable archaeobotanical datasets describe cereal cultivation in north-eastern France, from the Iron Age to the Roman period. This study aims to complement these by using stable isotope analysis on charred cereal grains. Soil fertility was investigated through delta N-15 and delta C-13 analyses of 1480 charred cereal grains, dated from the Late La Tene to the Late Antiquity periods. In the ile-de-France, charred grain Delta C-13 values suggested good hydric conditions, with drier episodes in the 1st and 3rd century AD; while in Champagne, the lower Delta C-13 values for spelt reflect the lower water holding capacity of the chalky soils. A wide range of cereal delta N-15 values (0.8-8.7 parts per thousand) implies a wide range of soil fertility conditions. Jouars-Pontchartrain and Palaiseau (ile-de-France) yielded the highest cereal delta N-15 values, whereas Acy-Romance (Champagne) delivered among the lowest. From these three sites, the delta N-15 values of red deer bone collagen were used to estimate the reference delta N-15 values for unmanured plants. Unlike in Acy-Romance, there were significant differences in Palaiseau and Jouars-Pontchartrain, indicating that the cultivated cereals inherited their high delta N-15 values from manured soil. At Jouars-Pontchartrain, the delta N-15 value (almost 9 parts per thousand) suggested a high trophic level manuring source, possibly from pig and/or human faeces.

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