Isotopic reconstruction of the weaning process in the archaeological population of Canímar Abajo, Cuba: A Bayesian probabilities mixing models approach
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Chinique de Armas, Yadira
Rodríguez Suárez, Roberto
García Jordá, Dailys
Buhay, William M.
Chinique de Armas, Yadira, Mirjana Roksandic, Dejana Nikitović, Roberto Rodríguez Suárez, David Smith, Nadine Kanik, Dailys García Jordá, and William M. Buhay. "Isotopic reconstruction of the weaning process in the archaeological population of Canímar Abajo, Cuba: A Bayesian probabilities mixing models approach." PLoS One 12 (5) (1 May 2017): e0176065.
The general lack of well-preserved juvenile skeletal remains from Caribbean archaeological sites has, in the past, prevented evaluations of juvenile dietary changes. Canímar Abajo (Cuba), with a large number of well-preserved juvenile and adult skeletal remains, provided a unique opportunity to fully assess juvenile paleodiets from an ancient Caribbean population. Ages for the start and the end of weaning and possible food sources used for weaning were inferred by combining the results of two Bayesian probability models that help to reduce some of the uncertainties inherent to bone collagen isotope based paleodiet reconstructions. Bone collagen (31 juveniles, 18 adult females) was used for carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses. The isotope results were assessed using two Bayesian probability models: Weaning Ages Reconstruction with Nitrogen isotopes and Stable Isotope Analyses in R. Breast milk seems to have been the most important protein source until two years of age with some supplementary food such as tropical fruits and root cultigens likely introduced earlier. After two, juvenile diets were likely continuously supplemented by starch rich foods such as root cultigens and legumes. By the age of three, the model results suggest that the weaning process was completed. Additional indications suggest that animal marine/riverine protein and maize, while part of the Canímar Abajo female diets, were likely not used to supplement juvenile diets. The combined use of both models here provided a more complete assessment of the weaning process for an ancient Caribbean population, indicating not only the start and end ages of weaning but also the relative importance of different food sources for different age juveniles.