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Diet, society, and economy in late medieval Spain: Stable isotope evidence from Muslims and Christians from Gandía, Valencia

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Publication details

JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Oct 2014
DatePublished (current) - Feb 2015
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)263-273
Early online date29/10/14
Original languageEnglish


This article investigates the diets of neighboring Christians and Muslims in late medieval Spain (here 13th–16th centuries) through the analysis of the stable isotopes of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) in adult human and animal bone collagen. Twenty-four Christians and 20 Muslims are sampled from two adjacent and contemporaneous settlements in the township of Gandía on the Mediterranean coast, together with the remains of 24 animals. Statistical differences in both δ13C and δ15N reveal that the diets of the two faith communities differed, despite living side-by-side. These differences may relate to inequalities in their access to foodstuffs, particularly to C3/C4 grain and/or possibly terrestrial meat sources, though cultural preferences are also highlighted. Isotopic values for animals were also found to vary widely, both between and within species, and this provides a window into the local livestock economy.

Bibliographical note

(c) 2014 THE AUTHORS. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

    Research areas

  • C4 plants, ISLAM, Mediterranean, Faith, COLLAGEN

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