Culture-Based Dietary Patterns in Megalithic and Argaric Bronze Age Societies in Southeastern Iberia
2022. Landscapes and resources in the Bronze age of southern Spain. Bartelheim, M.; Contreras, F.; Hardenberg, R. (eds.) Ressourcenkulturen 17. Tubingen University Press
Cultural diversity does not only occur in the longterm but also among social groups that coexisted chronologically and spatially. This is the case of the megalithic societies that coexisted from approximately 2200 calBC onwards with the Argaric Bronze Age communities in southeastern Iberia. These groups differ markedly in their mortuary rituals. In addition to the continuity and reuse of earlier collective megalithic cemeteries, there were individual inhumations inside settlements. Palaeodietary analyses offer an excellent opportunity for a better understanding of this cultural diversity. The carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) composition of a sample of 194 individuals belonging to three megalithic cemeteries (Los Millares, El Barranquete and Panoría) and to four Argaric settlements (Cerro de la Virgen and Cuesta del Negro, Gatas and La Bastida) are analysed and compared. The results led to four main conclusions: (i) subsistence strategies in both megalithic and Argaric populations were based on a mixed economy of herding and farming without any relevant consumption of aquatic resources (marine and freshwater); (ii) megalithic societies evidence a rather homogeneous dietary pattern in contrast to the greater inter-individual variability found among Argaric peoples; (iii) the consumption of domesticated animals and dairy products has increased during the El Argar period, although access to such high-quality foodstuffs would have been rather asymmetrical; (iv) in contrast to the Argaric societies, the contemporary megalithic Bronze Age communities had a more conservative dietary pattern, emphasising the continuity of traditional consumption habits.
Paleodiet, Stable Isotopes, Megalithic Monuments, Early Bronze Age