Sex Determination and Isotopic Analysis of the Nivåfjord Mesolithic Burials, Zealand, Denmark

Kurt Joseph Gron, Harry Kenneth Robson, Nicolas A Stewart, T. Rowan McLaughlin, Chris Meiklejohn, Peter Rowley-Conwy, Ole Lass Jensen, Janet Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since 1992 the prehistoric Nivåfjord in northeast Zealand, Denmark, has yielded an appreciable number of inhumation burials and cremations dating to the Mesolithic, especially the sites of Nivå 10 and Nivågård. Unfortunately, the micro-region is characterised by poor organic preservation, restricting the successful application of biomolecular techniques to human remains, including large-scale radiocarbon dating programmes as well as both stable isotope and ancient DNA analyses. Here, we apply an alternative technique, an acid etch peptide-based method, to determine the sex of eight individuals from Nivå 10 as well as the Nivågård child. Moreover, we revisit the utility of stable carbon (δ13C), nitrogen (δ15N) and sulfur (δ34S) isotope analysis of human tissues to reconstruct the life histories and diets of 10 individuals from Nivå 10 as well as the Nivågård child. To contextualise further, we sampled 14 Capreolus capreolus and three Sus scrofa from the Nivågård site for stable isotope analysis. We demonstrate that sex can successfully be determined from contexts susceptible to poor organic preservation, and show that the Nivågård child spent a proportion of its life outside a sea spray-influenced environment, and consumed significant quantities of marine protein as demonstrated by its δ13C and δ34S values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalDanish Journal of Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 Kurt J. Gron, Harry K. Robson, Nicolas A. Stewart, Peter Rowley-Conwy, Ole Lass Jensen, Janet Montgomery

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