Seal or No Seal? A Bayesian (FRUITS) Modeling of Hunter-gatherer Diet in the Little Sea Micro-Region of Lake Baikal

Talisha R. Chaput
The non-specific nature of stable isotope analysis limits interpretive assessments of diet to relative contributions of food sources. In an attempt to address this issue, scholars have focused on mixing models as a potential avenue to provide quantifiable measurements of dietary source contribution. FRUITS is currently a leading model on the market for the application of dietary questions in an archaeological context. The ability of FRUITS to consider non-isotopic priors is paramount to precise
more » ... estimations in the field of archaeology. Previous work in the Baikal region of Russia has provided an excellent basis for more specific and targeted analyses such as this, which is primarily concerned with characterizing the diets of Early Bronze Age hunter-gatherers within the Little Sea micro-region. This analysis is guided by a set of four dietary hypotheses derived from the current state of literature in the Baikal region. Priors to constrain the model were created through assessment of physiological processes, ethnographic information, and zooarchaeological findings relevant to the subject. Results indicate that the Little Sea model provides estimations of the dietary contributions of the Game-Fish-Seal diet with moderate performance. As more GFS local individuals were rejected by the model than anticipated, further improvements to the parameters of the Little Sea model are evidently required. High plant and low fish contribution values to the overall diet contradict previous dietary conjectures. Game-Fish individuals responded as expected to the Little Sea model, as each individual was rejected or failed to produce results, indicating that they were not consuming Little Sea aquatic resources. Instead, the results suggest that the GF individuals were obtaining the aquatic element of their diet from elsewhere, likely from the Upper Lena micro-region. This suggests that the GFS and GF diet groups exploited foods originating from different ecological zones and ate variable amounts of similar resources despite their common burial location. iii
doi:10.7939/r3-54de-yv88 fatcat:imxrfyxfyzdflaweucliv6wu2y