Sep 27, 2019

Milk of ruminants in ceramic baby bottles from prehistoric child graves

Nature
Julie DunneR P Evershed

Abstract

The study of childhood diet, including breastfeeding and weaning, has important implications for our understanding of infant mortality and fertility in past societies1. Stable isotope analyses of nitrogen from bone collagen and dentine samples of infants have provided information on the timing of weaning2; however, little is known about which foods were consumed by infants in prehistory. The earliest known clay vessels that were possibly used for feeding infants appear in Neolithic Europe, and become more common throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages. However, these vessels-which include a spout through which liquid could be poured-have also been suggested to be feeding vessels for the sick or infirm3,4. Here we report evidence for the foods that were contained in such vessels, based on analyses of the lipid 'fingerprints' and the compound-specific δ13C and Δ13C values of the major fatty acids of residues from three small, spouted vessels that were found in Bronze and Iron Age graves of infants in Bavaria. The results suggest that the vessels were used to feed infants with milk products derived from ruminants. This evidence of the foodstuffs that were used to either feed or wean prehistoric infants confirms the importance of milk ...Continue Reading

  • References10
  • Citations2

References

Mentioned in this Paper

Fertility
Study
Diet
Ruminants
Blood Vessel
Food
Isotope Labeling, Stable
Pharmacologic Substance
Breast Feeding
Nitrogen

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