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A stable isotope perspective on archaeological agricultural variability and Neolithic experimentation in India

Nayak, A; Basa, KK; Boivin, NL; Fuller, DQ; Mohanty, RK; Kingwell-Banham, E; Murphy, C; ... Bogaard, A; + view all (2022) A stable isotope perspective on archaeological agricultural variability and Neolithic experimentation in India. Journal of Archaeological Science , 141 , Article 105591. 10.1016/j.jas.2022.105591.

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Abstract

Agriculture has been crucial in sustaining human populations in South Asia across dramatically variable environments for millennia. Until recently, however, the origins of this mode of subsistence in India have been discussed in terms of population migration and crop introduction, with limited focus on how agricultural packages were formulated and utilised in local contexts. Here, we report the first measurements of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values in well-preserved charred crop remains from sites spanning the Neolithic/Chalcolithic to the Early Historic in two very different environmental zones: tropical East India and the semi-arid Deccan. The results show that this approach offers direct insight into prehistoric crop management under contrasting environmental constraints. Our preliminary results plausibly suggest that early farmers in India experimented with and made strategic use of water and manure resources in accordance with specific crop requirements and under varying environmental constraints. We suggest that the development of modern crop isotope baselines across India, and the application of this methodology to archaeological assemblages, has the potential to yield detailed insight into agroecology in India's past.

Type: Article
Title: A stable isotope perspective on archaeological agricultural variability and Neolithic experimentation in India
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2022.105591
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2022.105591
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Social Sciences, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Physical Sciences, Anthropology, Archaeology, Geosciences, Multidisciplinary, Geology, Agriculture, Neolithic, India, Archaeobotany, Stable isotope analysis, South Asia, N-15 NATURAL-ABUNDANCE, LABORATORY SIMULATIONS, WATER MANAGEMENT, NITROGEN, CARBON, SOIL, TRANSFORMATION, WHEAT, DISCRIMINATION, IDENTIFICATION
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10151927
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