Akademisk avhandling för avläggande av filosofie doktorsexamen i arkeologi vid Stockholms universitet som offentligen kommer att försvaras fredagen den 21 oktober klockan 10.00 i Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8.

Abstract

Isotope analyses on human and faunal skeletal remains from different Swedish Neolithic archaeological contexts are here applied as a means to reconstruct dietary strategies and mobility patterns. The chronological emphasis is on the Middle Neolithic period, and radiocarbon dating constitutes another central focus.

The results reveal a food cultural diversity throughout the period in question, where dietary differences in part correspond to, but also transcend, the traditionally defined archaeological cultures in the Swedish Early to Middle Neolithic.

Further, these differences, and the apparent continued utilisation of marine resources in several regions and cultural contexts, can only in part be explained by chronology or availability of resources depending on geographic location.

Thus, the sometimes suggested sharp economic shift towards an agricultural way of life at the onset of the Neolithic is refuted. Taking the potential of isotope analyses a step further, aspects of Neolithic social relations and identities are discussed, partly from a food cultural perspective embarking from the obtained results. Relations between people and places, as well as to the past, are discussed.

The apparent tenacity in the dietary strategies observed is understood in terms of their rootedness in the practices and social memory of the Neolithic societies in question. Food cultural practices are further argued to have given rise to different notions of identity, some of which can be related to the different archaeological cultures, although these cultures are not to be perceived as bounded entities or the sole basis of self-conceptualisation.

Some of these identities have been focused around the dietary strategies of everyday life, whereas others emanate from practices, e.g. of ritualised character, whose dietary importance has been more marginal. Isotope analyses, when combined with other archaeological indices, have the potential to elucidate both these food cultural aspects.