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Dental calculus and isotopes provide direct evidence of fish and plant consumption in Mesolithic Mediterranean

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  • Emanuela Cristiani
  • Anita Radini
  • Dušan Borić
  • Harry Kenneth Robson
  • Isabella Caricola
  • Marialetizia Carra
  • Giuseppina Mutri
  • Gregorio Oxilia
  • Andrea Zupancich
  • Mario Šlaus
  • Dario Vujević


Publication details

JournalScientific Reports
DateAccepted/In press - 3 May 2018
DatePublished (current) - 25 May 2018
Issue number8147
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


In this contribution we dismantle the perceived role of marine resources and plant foods in the subsistence economy of Holocene foragers of the Central Mediterranean using a combination of dental calculus and stable isotope analyses. The discovery of fish scales and flesh fragments, starch granules and other plant and animal micro-debris in the dental calculus of a Mesolithic forager dated to the end of the 8th millenium BC and buried in the Vlakno Cave on Dugi Otok Island in the Croatian Archipelago demonstrates that marine resources were regularly consumed by the individual together with a variety of plant foods. Since previous stable isotope data in the Eastern Adriatic and the Mediterranean region emphasises that terrestrial-based resources contributed mainly to Mesolithic diets in the Mediterranean Basin, our results provide an alternative view of the dietary habits of Mesolithic foragers in the Mediterranean region based on a combination of novel methodologies and data.

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© The Author(s) 2018

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