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Table 3 outlines isotopic results for each individual analysed. The descriptive statistics for all three isotopes taken from the human samples are presented in Table 5. The descriptive statistics for the enamel samples can be found in Table 5 and are presented in Fig.
They can be considered as outliers since their values differ from the average more than two standard deviations. Tooth crowns develop during infancy and childhood and undergo no structural change once complete, while bone constantly remodels throughout life. Although M3 can show a great variability in its age of development, the obtained results again suggest no differences between sexes but importantly extend this notion to childhood Fig.
When considering the results of the comparison, we have to remember that the data from apatite reflects only subadult consumption and the values from collagen indicate diet from last years of life. Due to the relationship between human isotope values and consumed animal values, it is important to discuss the faunal results prior to considering human values. Furthermore, although our sample size is small, cattle have greater isotope value variation than caprine, again also observable in other studies see Guede et al. Transhumance has been important strategy in Iberia from the Roman period onwards Glick Herds of sheep and goat, valued more for meat, were moved to better grazing pastures at certain times of the year.
It is possible that we are seeing further evidence of this in our data. As cattle appear to have been less preferred for meat in comparison to caprine Salas-Salvado et al. However, we are conscious that our sample size is limited; so, here, we call for more dedicated isotopic research, such as that carried by Sirignano et al.
The limited indication of C 4 plants may reflect the intake of some animals foddered on millet or sorghum, which could also be grown in the area although see next paragraph. However, the contribution of C 4 plants to human or animal diet appears scant. Given that this man was in the earliest layers of the cemetery, analysis of oxygen and strontium values might be insightful for ascertaining if he migrated. Similar results have been linked with sugarcane consumption, for example in the Pacific Marianas Ambrose et al.
However, as not all individuals show evidence for its consumption, it is possible that it is not yet a universal commodity, which fits with ideas that it was initially for family consumption in the first few centuries of Islamic rule Perez Vidal In addition, we are not able to ascertain whether its consumption was limited to children as we were only able to test enamel. Initially, this suggests that some individuals may have been almost vegetarian, signalling intragroup diversity in diet.
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As meat and dairy products may have been more expensive food items, it could reflect the mixed economic status of individuals buried at the cemetery. One feature often assessed in Medieval populations is sex differences in data and how this links to gender ideals. In particular, there is significant interest in whether sex divisions appear in the Islamic period due to the arrival of new Islamic gender ideology Inskip The collagen data suggests no significant differences between males and females in terms of diet, and apatite values potentially show that this can be largely extended to boys and girls.
However, the combination of collagen and apatite values might hint at greater consumption of sugarcane by females girls. This suggests that although base diet did not differ between the sexes, there may have been subtle variances between males and females. There is no historical evidence to suggest that there should be differences in the diets of adults and children post-breast feeding.
With no significant variation in carbon collagen values and a lack of consistent difference in apatite values between teeth, it suggests that childhood diet did generally not vary from adults after being weaned. Fernandez et al. This infers that either the conditions were different or that medieval individuals were using a different water source.
Regardless, it is very interesting that the values differ so significantly to Tauste even though there are similar environmental conditions. Observing Table 6 , a complex picture emerges which does not map neatly on to any one specific factor religion, time, environment and social factors. First, it is necessary to highlight two sites with outstanding results. As already mentioned, Early Islamic Tauste appears to be unique in its nitrogen values, a feature attributed to extreme salinity in the area Guede et al.
Second, Lanzada, a pre-Islamic site in the north with very high carbon and nitrogen values, is argued to represent a mixed marine and millet-based diet. These cases in particular show that local circumstances are very important in dictating the values observed and that trying to ascertain general trends is difficult in a region like Iberia where there is both a complex geology and varying social and political structures. Already, this highlights the importance of doing regional studies, which is important in revealing these complexities.
One of the big questions surrounding life in medieval Iberia is whether there are detectable differences between Christian and Islamic communities. In order to assess this, it is necessary to consider each religious group separately. The two other Islamic sites, Benipeixcar and Ibiza, differ with both presenting values consistent with greater C 4 consumption. This infers that while there are similarities between these Islamic sites, there are still subtle differences between them that may relate to animal practices, human dietary patterns, but also potentially environmental variation.
Of course, these issues may also be interrelated.
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To explore this further, it would be valuable to assess other Islamic sites in the south of Iberia and to have faunal data for Zaragoza. Turning to the Christian groups, we can see that, in general, there is more variation in the human values but also the human and animal offset values. Importantly, this variation is observed in the pre-Islamic and Islamic period Christian sites.
Some of this variation is likely to relate to the fact that some of the sites are small and rural in nature, which would likely differ in dietary patterns to larger settlements, but potentially also between rural communities. It would be useful to have similar rural data for Islamic sites to understand if similar trends exist.
Given the variation that exists within Islamic and Christian sites, it is very difficult to ascertain whether there is a pattern typical of either religious identity or how things changed over time. However, this does not mean that religious differences did not exist, but as isotopes only provide an overview of diet, and many diets can appear isotopically similar, other evidence, including botanical, palaeopathological and zooarchaeological, is required to tease out these differences. As there was already a strong relationship between Islamic practices and sugar consumption by the 9th century Sato , to ascertain if it could be a useful indicator of Islamic identity, it is necessary to assess if other Islamic and Christian groups show similar signals and how this might relate to time.
Archaeobotanical research based on 10th to 12th century Northern Iberian cities has also found millet to be present in very low quantities. The two Islamic sites with evidence of significant C 4 consumption are the late medieval community at Benipeixcar, perhaps representing a group whose diet had shifted due to changes in status see Alexander et al. For example, food could have been bought to the island. Overall, this shows that the exploitation of C 4 plants is likely to be related not only to the possibilities of cultivation but also to the multitude of social factors, including status, group preference, as well as practicalities i.
It is unclear how typical this offset is for an Islamic town as only Islamic Tauste and Ibiza have available faunal data and both are unique in their circumstances.
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In comparison to the Christian sites, this may reflect a lack of other resources that could increase carbon values in humans, such as fish, which given that nearly all the Christian sites are not too distant from the coast would make sense. It may also reflect the consumption of fish as part of a Christian diet. This aimed to improve our understanding of important factors influencing the lives of people during a unique period of time punctuated by important socio-cultural changes.
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As such, at present, we cannot typically identify an Islamic or Christian diet, or between northern or southern sites more generally. Unsurprisingly, a complex picture emerges which highlights the importance of undertaking regional studies. Only when we have a good understanding of the variation in dietary practices and resources across the region can we start to assess the significance of sociocultural and environmental change. To move forward, more dedicated studies of faunal material accompanied by a greater diversity of sites across the region are necessary.
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