Prehistoric cooking versus accurate palaeotemperature records in shell midden constituents

Peter Müller, Philip T. Staudigel, Sean T. Murray, Robert Vernet, Jean Paul Barusseau, Hildegard Westphal, Peter K Swart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The reconstruction of pre-depositional cooking treatments used by prehistoric coastal populations for processing aquatic faunal resources is often difficult in archaeological shell midden assemblages. Besides limiting our knowledge of various social, cultural, economic and technological aspects of shell midden formation, unknown pre-depositional cooking techniques can also introduce large errors in palaeoclimate reconstructions as they can considerably alter the geochemical proxy signatures in calcareous skeletal structures such as bivalve shells or fish otoliths. Based on experimental and archaeological data, we show that carbonate clumped-isotope thermometry can be used to detect and reconstruct prehistoric processing methods in skeletal aragonite from archaeological shell midden assemblages. Given the temperature-dependent re-equilibration of clumped isotopes in aragonitic carbonates, this allows specific processing, cooking or trash dispersal strategies such as boiling, roasting, or burning to be differentiated. Besides permitting the detailed reconstruction of cultural or technological aspects of shell midden formation, this also allows erroneous palaeoclimate reconstructions to be avoided as all aragonitic shells subjected to pre-historic cooking methods show a clear alteration of their initial oxygen isotopic composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3555
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

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midden
paleotemperature
shell
paleoclimate
isotope
carbonate
aragonite
otolith
bivalve
isotopic composition
oxygen
resource
fish
economics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Müller, P., Staudigel, P. T., Murray, S. T., Vernet, R., Barusseau, J. P., Westphal, H., & Swart, P. K. (2017). Prehistoric cooking versus accurate palaeotemperature records in shell midden constituents. Scientific Reports, 7(1), [3555]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-03715-8

Prehistoric cooking versus accurate palaeotemperature records in shell midden constituents. / Müller, Peter; Staudigel, Philip T.; Murray, Sean T.; Vernet, Robert; Barusseau, Jean Paul; Westphal, Hildegard; Swart, Peter K.

In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, No. 1, 3555, 01.12.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Müller, P, Staudigel, PT, Murray, ST, Vernet, R, Barusseau, JP, Westphal, H & Swart, PK 2017, 'Prehistoric cooking versus accurate palaeotemperature records in shell midden constituents', Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, 3555. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-03715-8
Müller P, Staudigel PT, Murray ST, Vernet R, Barusseau JP, Westphal H et al. Prehistoric cooking versus accurate palaeotemperature records in shell midden constituents. Scientific Reports. 2017 Dec 1;7(1). 3555. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-03715-8
Müller, Peter ; Staudigel, Philip T. ; Murray, Sean T. ; Vernet, Robert ; Barusseau, Jean Paul ; Westphal, Hildegard ; Swart, Peter K. / Prehistoric cooking versus accurate palaeotemperature records in shell midden constituents. In: Scientific Reports. 2017 ; Vol. 7, No. 1.
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