Osteological and paleodietary investigation of burials from Cova de la Pastora, Alicante, Spain

Sarah B McClure
Oreto García
Consuelo Roca de Togores

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We present results of osteological and isotopic analyses of human remains from Cova de la Pastora (Alcoi, Alicante, Spain) and discuss the implications in light of a new sequence of radiocarbon dates indicating that the cave was used as a burial site in the Late Neolithic (ca. 3800–3000 cal BC), Chalcolithic (ca. 3000–2500 cal BC), Bell Beaker Transition (Horizonte Campaniforme Transicional - HCT; ca. 2500–2200 cal BC) and the Bronze Age (ca. 2200–1500 cal BC). Similarities in stable isotopic values of C and N indicate little variation in subsistence between men and women, and a similar nutritional base from the Late Neolithic to the Bronze Age. This pattern of stability is augmented by evidence of trauma and disease found on numerous skulls in the collection. Since no clear associations of specific grave goods with certain individuals based on sex or age could be determined, the only suggestion of social inequality lies in the burial practice itself, where certain individuals were interred in caves while others were not.