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Tracing the dynamic life story of a Bronze Age Female

Frei, KM and Mannering, U and Kristiansen, K and Allentoft, ME and Wilson, AS and Skals, I and Tridico, S and Nosch, ML and Willerslev, E and Clarke, L and Frei, R (2015) Tracing the dynamic life story of a Bronze Age Female. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 5. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Ancient human mobility at the individual level is conventionally studied by the diverse application of suitable techniques (e.g. aDNA, radiogenic strontium isotopes, as well as oxygen and lead isotopes) to either hard and/or soft tissues. However, the limited preservation of coexisting hard and soft human tissues hampers the possibilities of investigating high-resolution diachronic mobility periods in the life of a single individual. Here, we present the results of a multidisciplinary study of an exceptionally well preserved circa 3.400-year old Danish Bronze Age female find, known as the Egtved Girl. We applied biomolecular, biochemical and geochemical analyses to reconstruct her mobility and diet. We demonstrate that she originated from a place outside present day Denmark (the island of Bornholm excluded), and that she travelled back and forth over large distances during the final months of her life, while consuming a terrestrial diet with intervals of reduced protein intake. We also provide evidence that all her garments were made of non-locally produced wool. Our study advocates the huge potential of combining biomolecular and biogeochemical provenance tracer analyses to hard and soft tissues of a single ancient individual for the reconstruction of highresolution human mobility.

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