Social archaeology of food in early medieval rural Iberia (5th-9th c. AD)
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This thesis draws a social history of food in early medieval rural Iberia based on the comparison of dietary patterns in Madrid-Toledo, the Basque Country and Catalonia between 5th and 9th c. as revealed by carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios on bone collagen. Ten rural populations were subjected to osteoarchaeological analysis for age and sex estimation and palaeodietary reconstruction. They included fifteen human assemblages and eight fauna datasets for a total of 280 human and 115 fauna samples. The isotopic characterisation of domestic herbivores was not only useful for the definition of local isotopic baselines of each ecosystem, but also for investigating agrarian practices. It was revealed that livestock management strategies shared many common features within the same region and the data obtained pointed at the existence of complex agrarian systems. Humans also presented some regional affinity in their dietary patterns, but there were greater differences between populations from the same region and within them. All individuals had terrestrial diets largely based on C3 resources with variable contributions of C4 plants and animal proteins. Age and sex did not stand out as decisive factors in the configuration of diets and only the youngest individuals showed distinct dietary patterns due to breastfeeding. Social status as expressed through grave goods was associated with ¿13C values and crop consumption patterns. Instead, there was no correlation between ¿15N values and grave goods. The location of burials, in terms of exclusion from the community cemetery or proximity to churches, was not linked to diet.