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

Clive Bonsall, Adina Boroneanț, Andrei Soficaru, Kathleen McSweeney, Thomas Higham, Nicolae Mirițoiu, Catriona Pickard, Gordon Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-325
Number of pages5
JournalThe Science of Nature
Issue number4
Early online date18 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Palaeolithic
  • burial
  • Climente II
  • Romania
  • 14C
  • calibration
  • stable isotopes


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