Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The Copper Age in south-west Spain : a bioarchaeological approach to prehistoric social organisation
Author: Diaz-Zorita-Bonilla, Marta
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2013
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This research uses a bioarchaeological approach to explore social structure and social differences during the 3rd millennium BC in south-west Spain. The study tests the overall hypothesis that social differences are present at different sites during the 3rd millennium BC in south-west Spain using the following research questions: (1) are there social differences manifested in mortality, morbidity, diet and mobility patterns, and (2) what was the relationship between Copper Age social differences and funerary patterns? Specifically, this research uses osteological, biochemical, and paleopathological analyses in combination with the funerary context to reconstruct mortality, morbidity, dietary and mobility patterns of two human skeletal populations from the Copper Age (c. 3300-2100 cal BC). The fragmented skeletal collections derive from the Extremadura and Western Andalusia, specifically Tomb 3 at La Pijotilla (Solana de los Barros, Badajoz) (283,329 human bone and teeth fragments, MNI= 178), and from different sectors at Valencina-Castilleja (Seville) (MNI= 36), respectively. Data from previously excavated human remains at La Orden-El Seminario (Huelva) were also included. In total, bioarchaeological data from 44 comparative Copper Age funerary sites were used to contextualize intra- and inter-site differences throughout the region at this time. Results showed an equal distribution of adults by sex and by type of funerary structure (megalithic and non-megalithic), while non-metric trait data showed close biological relationships between both the sample populations and with the whole of south-west Spain during the Copper Age. Health status was mainly identified through the presence of joint disease. Calculus and linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) were the most frequently represented dental pathologies, both diet-related and associated with megalithic structures; the individuals represented by the teeth were interpreted as higher status. Analysis of the stable isotopes of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) showed no significant differences between inland and coastal sites, however individuals buried in megalithic structures had significantly higher δ15N values. Strontium (87Sr/86Sr) results revealed the presence of non-local individuals, suggesting a degree of human mobility, further supported by the presence of exotic raw materials with the burials. Inter-site comparison within south-west Iberia showed that the highest degree of mobility was found in large settlements, potentially reflecting a growing engagement with long distance contact and trade. Together the analyses support a scenario in which increased human interaction between these two settlements and other contemporary sites occurred because of their role as central places for meeting, exchange of goods and/or to perform rituals. Overall, the results of this research support the hypothesis that social differences were present at different sites during the 3rd millennium BC in south-west Spain, demonstrating the complexity of funerary patterns in Copper Age communities and providing evidence for social inequality and differentiation. In summary, the study demonstrates the Copper Age was a period of growing social differentiation, detected through variation in specific funerary structures, grave goods, health status and diet.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available