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Diet and lifestyle in Bronze Age Northwest Spain: the collective burial of Cova do Santo

Lopez-Costas, O., Muldner, G. and Martinez Cortizas, A. (2015) Diet and lifestyle in Bronze Age Northwest Spain: the collective burial of Cova do Santo. Journal of Archaeological Science, 55. pp. 209-218. ISSN 0305-4403

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2015.01.009

Abstract/Summary

A multidisciplinary investigation of the collective burial of Cova do Santo is presented as a novel approach to understand daily life during the Bronze Age in Northwest Iberia. The research is focused on three main aspects: i) taphonomy and patterns of disposal, ii) paleopathology and -demography as indicators of health status and lifestyle, and iii) stable isotope analysis to reconstruct paleodiet and to investigate the timing of the introduction of millet to the Iberian Peninsula. Osteological analyses were performed on 64 bones (61 human and 3 animal); additionally, bone collagen was extracted from 15 samples (13 human and 2 animal) and analyzed for its carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes composition. The radiocarbon age of the human remains is consistent with the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1890 to 1600 cal BC). The recovered remains belonged to a minimum number of 14 individuals with an estimated age at death of forty years or younger. This relatively young age is in contrast to a high prevalence of degenerative joint disease in the group. The isotopic results suggest a very homogeneous diet, which was almost exclusively based on C3 plants and terrestrial animal products. Overall, the data suggest that the studied population belonged to a period prior to the introduction of spring or summer-grown crops such as millets. The collective burial from the cave of Cova de Santo, Galicia, currently represents the largest assemblage of prehistoric human remains from Northwest Spain and the relatively good preservation of the bones offers a unique opportunity to investigate daily life in Northern Iberia during the Bronze Age.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Scientific Archaeology
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:39269
Publisher:Elsevier

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