Multi-isotopic diet analysis of south-eastern Iberian megalithic populations: the cemeteries of El Barranquete and Panoría
Archaeological and Anthropological Science, 2019
The southern Iberian megalithic cemeteries of Panoría and El Barranquete offer an excellent opportunity to explore ancient dietary patterns. Due to the special nature of these funerary contexts as palimpsests, a multi-proxy approach including multi-isotopic determination and a high-resolution dating framework was carried out. As a result, 52 samples were isotopically measured, of which 48 were also radiocarbon dated. With this new isotopic series as a basis, three main conclusions can be drawn: (i) the diet was based on C3 plants and terrestrial animals with no evidence of marine protein consumption; (ii) there is a general tendency for carbon isotope values to increase during the Bronze Age, which is consistent with the intensification of crop farming taking place at the time; and (iii) nitrogen isotope variability is especially remarkable when comparing collective to individual tombs. People buried individually show the highest and the most variable nitrogen ratios in contrast with those buried in collective tombs that show similar nitrogen values over time. These differences support the hypothesis of a conservative megalithic population resisting cultural innovations during the Argaric Bronze Age.
Bioarchaeology, Megalithism, Stable isotope analysis, Dietary patterns, Radiocarbon chronology, Iberian Peninsula