Mobile or stationary? An analysis of strontium and carbon isotopes from Västerbjers, Gotland, Sweden

Torbjörn Ahlström, Douglas T. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nature of the Neolithic Pitted Ware Culture (PWC) has been debated in Scandinavian archaeology since the beginning of the 20th century. This material culture post-dates the inception of an agro-pastoral Neolithic economy in the region (TRB) but demonstrate a semi-foraging lifeway. The PWC is considered elusive in the sense that the economy has been interpreted as either based on maritime foraging (isotope analysis), or a mixed-Neolithic economy based on boar (Sus scrofa) (archaeozoology). The mobility of the PWC group on Gotland has not been studied previously. We provide an analysis of strontium data from the site Västerbjers, Gotland, and engage in the question whether this population was mobile (foragers) or stationary (mixed-Neolithic). We also discuss the strontium baseline of the island in the light of new data. The results presented demonstrate a group that was confined to the island and with no strontium data suggesting a supra-regional mobility. We cannot discriminate between a regional mobility pattern on Gotland (mobility between sites) and a local, stationary group (fully sedentary), but we present data that suggest the former. Thus, our conclusion is that the PWC group on Gotland was stationary, the sedentism disclosed being supported by a mixed-Neolithic economy based on boar (Sus scrofa). In fact, the PWC group is depicting less variance with respect to 87Sr/86Sr ratios than the TRB and Late Neolithic groups on the island, being more stationary than the agricultural groups.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102902
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Archaeology

Free keywords

  • Pitted ware culture
  • Västerbjers
  • Gotland
  • Baseline
  • Strontium analysis
  • Diet
  • Mobility
  • Stationary


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