Historical knowledge

Diet and carbon 13

Carbon 13 occurs in various quantities in plants and animals, depending upon the circumstances in which they have lived. Therefore in the northern, temperate parts of the planet marine plants and animals have a higher carbon 13 content than those that live on the dry land. If a human being mainly eats food from the sea, he or she will have a higher carbon 13 content in his or her bones and muscles than would be the case if the food originates from land. In other words analysis of human bones can show whether people primarily ate food from the land or sea.

The carbon 13 analysis of the three skeletons from Dragsholm shows that the two women from the Mesolithic period lived especially off food from the sea. The male farmer on the other hand mainly consumed food which originated from the land.

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