Multi-isotopic diet analysis of south-eastern Iberian megalithic populations: the cemeteries of El Barranquete and Panoría

  • Marta Díaz-Zorita BonillaEmail author
  • Gonzalo Aranda Jiménez
  • Hervé Bocherens
  • Javier Escudero Carrillo
  • Margarita Sánchez Romero
  • Águeda Lozano Medina
  • Eva Alarcón García
  • Lara Milesi García
Original Paper


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 



The authors would like to thank O. López Costas and M. Alexander’s invitation to participate in this special issue about Iberian palaeodiet. We are also in debt with Dimas Martín Socas for providing several unpublished faunal isotopic values from the Neolithic site of El Garcel. This paper was written as part of the following research projects: “Innovation, Hybridisation and Cultural Resistance. The Third and Second Millennia cal BC Societies on the Southern Iberian Peninsula” (HAR2017-82932-P) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and “The materiality of women identity: technologies for gender equality” (CEI2015-MP-CP1) sponsored by CEI BIOTIC. Special thanks go to Manuel Ramos Lizana and the staff from the Archaeological Museum of Almería for granting access to the material and all facilities during data collection. We would also like to thank AG Biogeologie team members for their help during preparation and Bernd Steinhilber for measuring the isotopes. Thanks to the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions to improve the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marta Díaz-Zorita Bonilla
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Gonzalo Aranda Jiménez
    • 4
  • Hervé Bocherens
    • 2
    • 3
    • 5
  • Javier Escudero Carrillo
    • 1
  • Margarita Sánchez Romero
    • 4
  • Águeda Lozano Medina
    • 4
  • Eva Alarcón García
    • 4
  • Lara Milesi García
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des MittelaltersTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Geosciences, BiogeologyEberhardt Karls Universität TübingenTübingenGermany
  3. 3.SFB 1070 “Ressourcenkulturen”TübingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Prehistory and ArchaeologyUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  5. 5.Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and PalaeoenvironmentTübingenGermany

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