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Boom and bust at a medieval fishing port: dietary preferences of fishers and artisan families from Pontevedra (Galicia, NW Spain) during the Late Medieval and Early Modern Period
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies. Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain; University of Granada, Spain.
Number of Authors: 22019 (English)In: Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, ISSN 1866-9557, E-ISSN 1866-9565, Vol. 11, no 8, p. 3717-3731Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Here, we present an investigation of dietary habits in a town whose history is strongly connected to a single food product: fish. Pontevedra (Galicia, Spain) controlled a big part of fish commerce in the Iberian Peninsula during the Late Medieval period, only losing its position with the beginning of modern era. Burials from the churches of Santa Maria (thirteenth to seventeenth centuries AD), the necropolis of fishers, and San Bartolome (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries AD), with a parish mostly made up of craftspeople, were studied to address questions of diet and subsistence practices. A total of 89 samples, including 63 humans, 18 terrestrial and 8 marine animals, were analysed for isotopic composition of bone collagen (delta C-13 and delta N-15). The results show that domestic herbivores were fed a fodder almost exclusively based on C-3 plants, while dogs and a cat consumed significant quantities of fish. Humans ate a similar, mixed terrestrial/marine diet, but probably also with an important contribution from C-4 plants, most likely millet, or, from c. AD 1600 onwards, maize. Fishermen and their families buried at Santa Maria could have had preferential access to exported target sea products enriched in N-15 (salted sardine, conger eel, hake and octopus), while other marine products may have been more common on the rest of the town's tables. The decline in fishing activity in the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries appears to have been accompanied by a diversification of diet. The dietary habits of the middle-class urban inhabitants of Pontevedra are closely connected to its economic history and environmental changes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 11, no 8, p. 3717-3731
Keywords [en]
Fish diet, Late Medieval, Paleodiet, Pontevedra, Stable isotopes, Stature
National Category
History and Archaeology Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-173204DOI: 10.1007/s12520-018-0733-4ISI: 000478905700005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-173204DiVA, id: diva2:1353313
Available from: 2019-09-23 Created: 2019-09-23 Last updated: 2019-09-23Bibliographically approved

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