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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The identification of early social complexity and differentiation in early village societies has been approache d in the past most notably through the evaluation of rituals and architectural layouts. Such studies could be complemente d by an approach that provides data about everyday behaviours of individ- uals. We took 540 human and animal bone samples for stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis from the Neolithic site of Çayönü Tepesi in southeaste rn 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 house s, but also inside a public mortuary building known as the Skull Building. This variation provides an opportunit y using isotope methods to test whether there was evidence for structuring of daily activ- ities (diet in this case) that might serve to reinforce this change in burial practice. We show that when the inhabi tants of Çayönü Tepesi changed their architecture and operated different burial practices in con- junction, this coincided with other aspects of behaviour including sociall y-constituted food consumption practices, which served to reinforce social identities.