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      Long-Term Resilience of Late Holocene Coastal Subsistence System in Southeastern South America

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          Isotopic and molecular analysis on human, fauna and pottery remains can provide valuable new insights into the diets and subsistence practices of prehistoric populations. These are crucial to elucidate the resilience of social-ecological systems to cultural and environmental change. Bulk collagen carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of 82 human individuals from mid to late Holocene Brazilian archaeological sites (∼6,700 to ∼1,000 cal BP) reveal an adequate protein incorporation and, on the coast, the continuation in subsistence strategies based on the exploitation of aquatic resources despite the introduction of pottery and domesticated plant foods. These results are supported by carbon isotope analysis of single amino acid extracted from bone collagen. Chemical and isotopic analysis also shows that pottery technology was used to process marine foods and therefore assimilated into the existing subsistence strategy. Our multidisciplinary results demonstrate the resilient character of the coastal economy to cultural change during the late Holocene in southern Brazil.

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          Most cited references 13

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          Archaeology: sharp shift in diet at onset of Neolithic.

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            Quantifying dietary macronutrient sources of carbon for bone collagen biosynthesis using natural abundance stable carbon isotope analysis.

            The diets of laboratory rats were isotopically and nutritionally manipulated using purified C3 and/or C4 macronutrients to investigate the routing of dietary carbon to bone collagen biosynthesis. Diets were formulated with purified proteins, carbohydrates and lipids of defined composition and natural abundance stable isotope ratios. Bulk protein and constituent amino acid delta(13)C values determined for whole diet and bone collagen provided the basis for assessing isotopic fractionation and estimating the degree of routing versus synthesis de novo of essential, non-essential and conditionally indispensable amino acids. Essential and conditionally indispensable amino acids were shown to be routed from diet to collagen with little isotopic fractionation whereas non-essential amino acids differed by up to 20 per thousand. Mathematical modelling of the relationships between macronutrient and tissue delta(13)C values provided qualitative and quantitative insights into the metabolic and energetic controls on bone collagen biosynthesis. Essential amino acids comprise 21.7 % of the carbon in collagen, defining the minimum amount of dietary carbon routing. Estimates of 42 and 28 % routing were shown for the non-essential amino acids, glycine and aspartate, respectively. In total, the routing of non-essential and conditionally indispensable amino acids was estimated to equal 29.6 % of the carbon in collagen. When the contribution of carbon from the essential amino acids is also considered, we arrive at an overall minimum estimate of 51.3 % routing of dietary amino acid carbon into bone collagen.
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              Carbonate assignment and calibration in the Raman spectrum of apatite.

              A series of apatites with varying carbonate levels was prepared in order to assign the carbonate bands and calibrate for Raman analysis of natural materials. Overlap of carbonate bands with phosphate peaks was resolved by curve fitting. A peak at 1,071 cm(-1) was assigned to a combination of the carbonate nu(1) mode at 1,070 cm(-1) with a phosphate nu(3) mode at 1,076 cm(-1). In addition, the carbonate nu(4) mode was identified in apatite samples with >4% carbonate. The carbonate nu(4) bands at 715 and 689 cm(-1) identify the samples as B-type carbonated apatite. The carbonate content of apatite was calibrated to a carbonate Raman band, and the method was used to determine the carbonate content of a sample of bovine cortical bone, 7.7 +/- 0.4%.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                9 April 2014
                : 9
                : 4
                [1 ]BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York, York, United Kingdom
                [2 ]Department of Physics, University of York, York, United Kingdom
                [3 ]York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA), University of York, York, United Kingdom
                [4 ]Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom
                [5 ]Department of Archaeology, Environment and Community Planning, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia
                [6 ]Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia (MAE), Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, Brazil
                [7 ]Laboratório de Estudos Arqueológicos (LEA), Departamento de História, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, Brazil
                [8 ]Laboratório de Antropologia Biológica, Departamento de Genética e Biologia Evolutiva, Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, Brazil
                [9 ]Grupep, Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina (UNISUL), Tubarão, Brazil
                [10 ]Division of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Bradford, Bradford, United Kingdom
                University of Oxford, United Kingdom
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: ACC MC OC CS AM YH. Performed the experiments: ACC AL ME AM RARP AG. Analyzed the data: ACC AL ME OC AL CS AM YH RARP AG. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: MC OC AG YH PADD LF VW CP SE DF. Wrote the paper: ACC MC AL YH RARP CS PADD LF VW CP SE DF OC.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 13
                This research was funded by the EU Marie-Curie Action: “Intra-European fellowships for career development” (Coastal resources and South American hunter-gatherers: biochemical perspectives from Brazilian sambaquis - COREBRAS, Ref. 273734). FAPESP: projeto Sambaquis e Paisagem (Ref. 11038-0), Brazil, Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT0992258), Australia. Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Brazil and La Trobe University, Australia. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Earth Sciences
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Tissue Proteins
                Behavioral Ecology
                Chemical Ecology
                Physical Sciences
                Analytical Chemistry
                Chemical Analysis
                Ecology and Environmental Sciences
                Research and Analysis Methods
                Chromatographic Techniques
                Gas Chromatography
                Liquid Chromatography
                Social Sciences
                Economic Models



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