The transition from foraging to farming (7000–500 cal BC) in the SE Baltic: A re-evaluation of chronological and palaeodietary evidence from human remains

Gytis Piličiauskas*, Rimantas Jankauskas, Giedrė Piličiauskienė, Oliver E. Craig, Sophy Charlton, Tosha Dupras

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our knowledge of the timing and completeness of the transition from foraging, fishing and hunting to food production in boreal northeastern Europe is far from clear. Here, we present new bone collagen AMS 14C dates, and δ13C and δ15N isotope values for 20 humans and 17 animals from a 6500-year period dating from the Late Mesolithic to the Bronze Age in Lithuania. AMS 14C dates revealed large discrepancies in comparison to previously obtained radiocarbon dates, thus highlighting the need to re-date all prehistoric human remains where chronology was based on 14C dating of bone collagen. Stable isotope data indicate that inland Mesolithic-Subneolithic hunter-gatherers (7000–3000 cal BC) relied on a balance of freshwater food and game animals with regard to protein intake. The coastal Subneolithic groups (ca. 3000 cal BC) relied heavily on lagoon fishing, while seals and forest game were of lesser importance. Animal husbandry, most likely of sheep or goats, was a main source of protein for Neolithic Corded Ware Culture people (2900–2400 cal BC), although a significant contribution of freshwater food is also evident. Significant intra-individual variation in stable isotope values may demonstrate that a highly flexible subsistence strategy was adopted by the CWC people. Unusually high δ13C values indicate that millet had been already introduced into the farming economy of the Late Bronze Age around 1000 cal BC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-542
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science Reports
Early online date18 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • AMS C dates
  • Diet
  • Human remains
  • Southeastern Baltic
  • δC and δN stable isotopes

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