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

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

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This study presents new stable isotope (carbon and nitrogen) data from human and faunal remains from three Mesolithic shell middens (Cabeço das Amoreiras, Arapouco and Cabeço do Pez), located on the estuary of the Sado River, Portugal. The results have revealed a diet composed mainly of terrestrial C3 resources (from terrestrial animals and a small contribution from vegetable sources) and a proportion of marine resources close to 20%. These groups followed a subsistence pattern characterized by a variable settlement regime promoted by the availability of the resources in each region, and social and demographic factors that would induce human dietary diversification. The Sado Valley results were compared with other European Mesolithic groups in order to provide a general view of the subsistence patterns of some of the last hunter-gatherer groups. The high degree of regionalization observed with the comparisons shows that it is impossible to characterise a single subsistence pattern for all European Mesolithic groups. In this sense, environmental characteristics, the geomorphology, the effectiveness of communities' adaptation, and the influence of social and demographic factors probably influenced Mesolithic subsistence patterns in Europe. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-550
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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


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