The University of Arizona

Radiocarbon Dates and Stable Isotope Data from the Early Bronze Age Burials in Riigiküla I and Kivisaare Settlement Sites, Estonia

Mari Tõrv, John Meadows


Four inhumations from Kivisaare and Riigiküla I settlement and burial sites were dated in the course of a project about hunter-gatherer mortuary practices in Estonia, as they were believed to belong to the Stone Age. However, these burials appear to be Early Bronze Age inhumations instead, and thus are discussed separately in the present article. These burials are the first evidence in Estonia of a long-lasting tradition of inhumations without any visible aboveground structures. As the archaeology of the Early Bronze Age in Estonia is poorly known, these four inhumations contribute immensely to our understanding about this time period. Moreover, stable isotope values show that these people had a more terrestrial subsistence strategy than Stone Age hunter-gatherers. Nevertheless, aquatic resources were probably still significant components of their diet, particularly at Kivisaare, and the radiocarbon dates could therefore be subject to significant freshwater reservoir effects. This creates ambiguity in the chronological relationship of these four individuals to burials in stone-cist graves, which are attributed to the Late Bronze Age and which appear to be associated with fully agricultural communities.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_rc.57.18459


Radiocarbon dates, stable isotopes, human bone, Kivisaare, Riigiküla I, Stone Age, Bronze Age, Estonia

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