Food And Social Complexity At Çayönü Tepesi, Southeastern Anatolia: Stable Isotope Evidence Of Differentiation In Diet According To Burial Practice And Sex In The Early Neolithic
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► People from secondary burials (Skull Building) had different diets to those buried beneath houses. ► In the later Cell Plan sub-phase of occupation males and females had different diets. ► Dietary variation resulted from different types and/or amounts of meat and plant protein. ► The isotope results follow sex and burial practice suggesting food reinforced social behaviours., The identification of early social complexity and differentiation in early village societies has been approached in the past most notably through the evaluation of rituals and architectural layouts. Such studies could be complemented by an approach that provides data about everyday behaviours of individuals. We took 540 human and animal bone samples for stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis from the Neolithic site of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Anatolia. The inhabitants at this site chose to bury their dead in two different ways at different times during its occupation: beneath the floors of their houses, but also inside a public mortuary building known as the Skull Building. This variation provides an opportunity using isotope methods to test whether there was evidence for structuring of daily activities (diet in this case) that might serve to reinforce this change in burial practice. We show that when the inhabitants of Çayönü Tepesi changed their architecture and operated different burial practices in conjunction, this coincided with other aspects of behaviour including socially-constituted food consumption practices, which served to reinforce social identities.