Dietary Practices of the Gauja Livs: Lipid Residue Analyses of the Turaida Hillfort and Pūteļi Cemetery Pottery Material

Alise Gunnarssone*, Ester Oras, Alexandre Lucquin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study reports the first comprehensive data on the dietary aspects of Gauja Livs in the 11th–12th century CE. This region is presently lacking in bioarchaeological material (human bones and ancient plant remains), which is typically used for decoding the ancient diet. To tackle this problem pottery fragments from Turaida hillfort and Pūteļi cemetery were studied using Lipid Residue Analysis. Samples included both pottery clay matrix and burnt foodcrusts. The main goal of the study was to obtain direct information on the food substances consumed by the Gauja Livs, based on the pottery material from Turaida hillfort and from the local cemetery to reassess existing assumptions about their dietary practices both in mundane and ritual contexts. The lipid residue results revealed the main food groups consumed by the community contained terrestrial animal and aquatic products, but also provided insights into a potential mixing of different foodstuffs. Some of the expected foodstuffs were not found in or on the analysed pottery, leaving the possibility for a hypothetical use of cooking practices that might have excluded ceramic vessels. This research also gives preliminary indications of gender-based dietary patterns if assessed in context with other studies from the eastern Baltic Sea region in the pre-medieval and early medieval period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-75
Number of pages13
JournalInterdisciplinaria Archaeologica
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Turaida Museum Reserve, Estonian Research Council Personal Research Grant (PSG492) and Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study Pro Futura Scientia Fellowship. GC-C-IRMS analysis was supported by the Iperion HS Fixlab facility under the project “Multiproxy biomolecular dietary reconstructions from the Late Iron Age eastern Baltics” (BalticDiet) within the financial support by the Access to Research Infrastructures activity in the Horizon 2020 Programme of the EU (IPERION HS Grant Agreement n.871034).

© 2024, Archaeological Centre Olomouc. All rights reserved.


  • Baltic
  • ceramics
  • diet
  • Gauja Livs
  • Late Iron Age
  • Lipid Residue Analysis
  • Turaida
  • vessels as burial goods

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