Dietary reconstruction of the Bronze Age necropolis of Cova des Pas (Minorca Island): evidence from δ13C and δ15N analyses

T. Sotiriadou*, C. Tornero, A. Malgosa, P. Sureda, X. Jordana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Current paleodietary studies about the Naviform and Talayotic groups that took place in Minorca (Balearic Islands) during the Late Bronze Age–Early Iron Age (ca.1600–850/800 BC) have suggested a mixed and variable diet, largely depending on terrestrial sources of vegetables and meat. This study explores the nutritional pattern of the individuals buried in the Cova des Pas site (Minorca Island, Spain), a cave used as a collective sepulcher and the most exceptional and major human assemblage found in the Balearic Islands during this period. Carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotopic signatures were measured on extracted bone collagen from 49 individuals. Further, faunal remains from the Son Mercer de Baix site, the closest contemporaneous village to the collective sepulcher, were also analyzed to provide a baseline corpus of data to interpret human isotopic data. The results indicate a human diet based mainly on C3 plants with an important consumption of animal protein. The δ15N values of infants up to 4 years were high, indicating the enriched isotopic signature of breast milk, and weaning is assumed to occur around this age. Differences between sexes and the age subcategories were not statistically significant, assuming that the different groups of society had the same access to food. The data obtained in this isotopic study provides insight into the palaeodietary pattern of the human groups dated to the Late Bronze Age–Early Iron Age ages in the island of Minorca, contributing to the present debate on the emergence and development of complex societies on the Balearic archipelago.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
Number of pages16
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Balearic Islands
  • Bronze Age
  • Human diet
  • Social complexity
  • Stable isotopes


Dive into the research topics of 'Dietary reconstruction of the Bronze Age necropolis of Cova des Pas (Minorca Island): evidence from δ13C and δ15N analyses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this