From Sado Valley to Europe: Mesolithic dietary practices through different geographic distributions.

Maria Fontanals-Coll, Eulàlia Subirà, M Nekane Marín-Moratalla, Jordi Ruiz, Juan Francisco Gibaja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study presents new stable isotope (carbon and nitrogen) data from human and faunal remains fromthree Mesolithic shell middens (Cabeço das Amoreiras, Arapouco and Cabeço do Pez), located on theestuary of the Sado River, Portugal. The results have revealed a diet composed mainly of terrestrial C3resources (from terrestrial animals and a small contribution from vegetable sources) and a proportion ofmarine resources close to 20%. These groups followed a subsistence pattern characterized by a variablesettlement regime promoted by the availability of the resources in each region, and social and de-mographic factors that would induce human dietary diversification.The Sado Valley results were compared with other European Mesolithic groups in order to provide ageneral view of the subsistence patterns of some of the last hunter-gatherer groups. The high degree ofregionalization observed with the comparisons shows that it is impossible to characterise a singlesubsistence pattern for all European Mesolithic groups. In this sense, environmental characteristics, thegeomorphology, the effectiveness of communities' adaptation, and the influence of social and de-mographic factors probably influenced Mesolithic subsistence patterns in Europe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-550
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of archaeological science
Early online date14 Aug 2014
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2014


  • Stable isotopes
  • Palaeodiet
  • Mesolithic
  • Shell middens
  • Portugal
  • Europe

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