Bronze Age diet and farming strategy reconstructed using integrative isotope analysis


Impression: La Bastida 3D reconstruction
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Credit history: Dani Méndez-REVIVES

The El Algar society thrived in intricate hilltop settlements across the Iberian Peninsula from 2200-1550 cal BCE, and gravesites and settlement layouts supply powerful evidence of a marked social hierarchy.

Knipper and colleagues carried out carbon and nitrogen isotope investigation at two distinctive El Algar hilltop settlements: the massive fortified city site La Bastida (in present-working day Totana, Murcia), and the more compact settlement Gatas (Turre, Almería). Their sample integrated stays of seventy five human individuals from across social strata, 28 bones from domestic animals and wild deer, charred barley (seventy five grains full), and charred wheat (29 grains) from the center and late phases of El Algar civilization across the two web-sites.

The sampled human individuals showed no considerable distinction involving isotope values for males and for females, suggesting that diet programs may have been equivalent involving genders. Even so, “elite” individuals at La Bastida showed higher concentrations of both equally carbon and nitrogen. This could possibly have implied that the men and women of La Bastida eaten higher concentrations of animal-based mostly food stuff, but the authors advise that the isotope benefit discrepancies involving La Bastida and Gatas could in reality have resulted from equivalent dietary compositions. Nitrogen values are equivalent at both equally web-sites for barley, but higher for the domestic animals at La Bastida, meaning that diet programs with equivalent relative contributions of barley and meat/dairy goods would have led to higher nitrogen values in the humans at La Bastida compared to Gatas.

The researchers found a powerful reliance on cereal farming, supplemented by livestock, in the El Algar economic climate. The vary and values of carbon in the barley and wheat sample reflect what was possible a dry, unirrigated landscape, even though nitrogen concentrations in the cereal crops advise the El Algar men and women applied animal manure to their fields. Cereals and their by-goods appear to have contributed substantially to the forage of domesticated sheep/goats, cattle and pigs.

Nevertheless the sample utilised in this analyze is somewhat small, and there are constraints to what can be sampled with this kind of isotope investigation, this analyze displays the significance of considering the comprehensive trophic chain in order to sufficiently interpret isotope knowledge from human stays–and also demonstrates the sophistication of El Algar farming tactics.

Knipper adds: “It is necessary to not only examine human stays, but also comparative samples of distinctive previous food stuff stuffs as nicely as to interpret the knowledge in the mild of the archaeological and social historic context.”


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Quotation: Knipper C, Rihuete-Herrada C, Voltas J, Held P, Lull V, Micó R, et al. (2020) Reconstructing Bronze Age diet programs and farming techniques at the early Bronze Age web-sites of La Bastida and Gatas (southeast Iberia) employing stable isotope investigation. PLoS One particular 15(3): e0229398.

Funding: CRH, RM, VL and RR received money assist from the Ministry of Overall economy and Competitiveness, Spain (grant figures: HAR2014-53860-P and HAR2017-85962-P URL: and Direcció Common de Recerca (grant number: 2017SGR1044 URL: KWA received money assist from the German Research Basis (grant number: AL 287/fourteen-1 URL: The funders experienced no role in analyze layout, knowledge collection and investigation, choice to publish, or preparing of the manuscript.

Competing Pursuits: The authors have declared that no competing passions exist.

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