Before Farming

New radiocarbon dates of human and bird bones from Zvejnieki Stone Age burial ground in northern Latvia

Before Farming (2007), 2007, (1), 1–12.

Abstract

A total of 317 burials, mostly from the Stone Age, have been detected in the Zvejnieki archaeological complex in northern Latvia. Animal bones are often found in Zvejnieki graves. Some of them are modified into artefacts like pendants and can be associated with the human burials as grave goods. However, the behavioural interpretation of unmodified animal bones is less straightforward. By dating human and animal bones with the radiocarbon method it is possible to investigate whether animal bones were intended as grave goods or deposited in the grave area due to other activities. Bird bones are present in sixteen Mesolithic and Neolithic burials at Zvejnieki. We dated six unmodified bird bone and three human bone samples from Zvejnieki in order to investigate whether bird bones are contemporary with humans and thus most likely part of the grave. Four of the bird specimens are of markedly different age from the human remains dated in this study or in previous studies and cannot be interpreted as grave goods. The age of one bird bone is similar to that of the human sample. The dates obtained from human bones in general fit quite well within the previously given archaeological dates for the cemetery.

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Author details

Mannermaa, Kristiina

Zagorska, Ilga

Jungner, Högne

Zarina, Gunita