Stable carbon isotope assessment of hunter-Gatherer mobility in prehistoric South Australia

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    Bone collagen stable carbon isotope values for the inland riverine Roonka Flat archaeological population of southeastern South Australia indicate that prehistoric Aboriginal diets were based on local C3-derived terrestrial foods throughout the Late Holocene. Whereas 91% of the sample had values indicative of a predominantly C3-based terrestrial diet (X¯ δ 13C= - 20·0 N=41), the remaining 9% had values indicating a mixed diet of C3- and C4-derived terrestrial foods and marine foods (X¯ δ 13C= - 16·1 N=4). There were no significant differences between mean δ 13C values for adult males, adult females, and subadults. These bone collagen δ 13C values suggest that there was limited hunter-gatherer mobility between the inland riverine site and adjacent coastal and arid interior habitats during the Late Holocene. Bone collagen stable carbon isotope comparisons with the Early Holocene Roonka Flat population could not be made due to extensive collagen degradation in these older interments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)81-87
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1995


    • Australia
    • Bone Chemistry
    • Carbon Isotopes
    • Collagen
    • Hunter-Gatherers
    • Palaeodiet


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