Testing Late Bronze Age mobility in southern Sweden in the light of a new multi-proxy strontium isotope baseline of Scania.

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From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 16, Issue 4)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Report
Length: 15,702 words
Lexile Measure: 1570L

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Abstract :

The Bronze Age of Sweden's southernmost region, Scania, is complex and intriguing. One could say that Scania represented in many ways a gateway for people, ideas and material culture connecting continental Europe with Sweden. Shedding light on the dynamics of human mobility in this region requires an in depth understanding of the local archaeological contexts across time. In this study, we present new archaeological human data from the Late Bronze Age Simris II site, located in an area of Scania showing a dynamic environment throughout the Late Bronze Age, thus likely involving various forms of mobility. Because the characterization of solid strontium isotope baselines is vital for delineating human mobility in prehistory using the strontium isotope methodology, we introduce the first environmentally based multi-proxy (surface water-, plant- and soil leachates) strontium isotope baselines for sub-regions of Scania. Our results show, that the highly complex and spatially scattered lithologies characterising Scania does not allow for a spatially meaningful, geology-based grouping of multi-proxy data that could be beneficial for provenance studies. Instead, we propose sub-regional baselines for areas that don't necessarily fully correspond and reflect the immediate distribution of bedrock lithologies. Rather than working with a Scania-wide multi-proxy baseline, which we define as .sup.87 Sr/.sup.86 Sr = 0.7133 ± 0.0059 (n = 102, 2[sigma]), we propose sub-regional, multi-proxy baselines as follows: Area 1, farthest to the north, by .sup.87 Sr/.sup.86 Sr = 0.7184 ± 0.0061 (n = 16, 2[sigma]); Area 2, comprising the mid and western part of Scania, with .sup.87 Sr/.sup.86 Sr = 0.7140 ± 0.0043 (n = 48, 2[sigma]); Area 3-4, roughly corresponding to a NW-SE trending zone dominated by horst-graben tectonics across Scania, plus the carbonate dominated south western part of Scania with .sup.87 Sr/.sup.86 Sr = 0.7110 ± 0.0030 (n = 39, 2[sigma]). Our results also reflect that the complexity of the geology of Scania requires systematic, high density, statistically sound sampling of multiple proxies to adequately constrain the baseline ranges, particularly of those areas dominated by Precambrian lithologies. The averaging effect of biosphere Sr in surface water might be beneficial for the characterization of baselines in such terranes. Our sub-regional, area-specific baselines allow for a first comparison of different baseline construction strategies (single-proxy versus multi-proxy; Scania-wide versus sub-regional). From the Late Bronze Age Simris II site, we identified six individuals that could be analysed for Sr isotopes, to allow for an interpretation of their provenance using the newly established, environmental strontium isotope baselines. All but one signature agrees with the local baselines, including the .sup.87 Sr/.sup.86 Sr value we measured for a young individual buried in a house urn, typically interpreted as evidence for long distance contacts. The results are somewhat unexpected and provides new aspects into the complexity of Scandinavian Bronze Age societies.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A659212268