, Volume 99, Issue 4, pp 321–325 | Cite as

Interrelationship of age and diet in Romania’s oldest human burial

  • Clive BonsallEmail author
  • Adina Boroneanţ
  • Andrei Soficaru
  • Kathleen McSweeney
  • Tom Higham
  • Nicolae Miriţoiu
  • Catriona Pickard
  • Gordon Cook
Short Communication


In 1968, excavations in the Climente II cave in the Iron Gates gorge of the River Danube in southwest Romania unearthed the skeleton of an adult male. The burial was assumed to be of Late Pleistocene age because of the presence of Late Upper Palaeolithic (LUP) artefacts in the cave. However, there was no strong supporting stratigraphic evidence, and the body position is reminiscent of Early Neolithic burial practice in the region. Here, we report the results of radiocarbon and stable isotope analyses of the Climente II skeleton, which show that the skeleton dates to the Bølling–Allerød Interstadial ~14,500 cal BP. This is several millennia older than any previously dated human remains from the Iron Gates region and confirms its status as the oldest known burial from Romania. The stable isotope results indicate a diet with an emphasis on aquatic resources, contrary to the commonly held view that the LUP inhabitants of the Iron Gates subsisted mainly by hunting large land mammals.


Palaeolithic Burial Climente II Romania 14Calibration Stable isotopes 



We thank three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clive Bonsall
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adina Boroneanţ
    • 2
  • Andrei Soficaru
    • 3
  • Kathleen McSweeney
    • 1
  • Tom Higham
    • 4
  • Nicolae Miriţoiu
    • 3
  • Catriona Pickard
    • 1
  • Gordon Cook
    • 5
  1. 1.School of History, Classics and ArchaeologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.‘Vasile Pârvan’ Institute of ArchaeologyBucharestRomania
  3. 3.‘Francisc I. Rainer’ Anthropological Research CentreBucharestRomania
  4. 4.Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of ArtUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  5. 5.Scottish Universities Environmental Research CentreEast KilbrideUK

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