The introduction of farming (6th millennium BC) fundamentally transformed the Western Mediterranean but prehistorians have long argued about the causes, tempo and completeness for this change. Stable isotope analysis (SIA) of ancient human bones provides a novel approach for addressing this problem directly reconstructing diet and crudely assessing the transition from foraging and fishing to farming. However, there are some uncertainties with this approach precluding the accurate determination of the extent to which Neolithic ‘farmers’ still relied on marine foods. This is important as a prominent model for the so-called ‘Neolithisation’ is of population replacement and of a complete change to domesticated cereals and animal products. The existing state-of-the-art relies on analysing bone protein from skeletal remains and relate these measurements to data obtained from potential food sources. NEOMEDIS aims to advance this approach by breaking down the protein into their constituent amino acids and analysing the carbon, nitrogen and sulfur isotopes in these individual molecules tracing different dietary components to obtain an approach that will provide a more accurate dietary reconstruction. NEOMEDIS will provide detailed dietary reconstructions for 75 Neolithic individuals from the NW Mediterranean dating from the first arrival of farming to the Middle Neolithic to examine the change over this period. Skeletal remains from key sites are already in hand, benefit from excellent chronologies and contextual information provided by leading expert collaborators in Spain, France and Italy. The fellowship will furnish the applicant in next-generation methods skills in SIA that are beginning to be widely applied in ecology, archaeology and geochemistry using facilities that are not yet available in her country. The applicant will obtain a unique skill set and the independence to pursue her own bioarchaeological research following a clear route towards professional maturity.
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