Research articles

Marine resource exploitation and human settlement patterns during the Neolithic in SW Europe


In recent decades, investigations in the southern Iberian Peninsula have increased our understanding of the socio-economic impact of the spread of the Neolithic in southwestern Europe, including changes in marine resources exploitation. Nevertheless, considerable uncertainty still exists around the seasonality of such subsistence systems and the putative role of marine fish and shellfish to the evolving agro-pastoral economies. Earlier studies on the European Atlantic coast (including Iberia) have shown that the stable oxygen isotope (δ18O) values from the topshell Phorcus lineatus (da Costa, 1778) can be reliably used to derive seasonal sea surface temperatures (SST) during its lifespan. This information can be used by archaeologists to estimate the seasonality of mollusc collection in the past, and to shed light into settlement and subsistence patterns. This paper presents the results of a stable isotope study on archaeological shells of P. lineatus recovered from the Neolithic settlement of Campo de Hockey (Cádiz, Spain). We analysed shells from both funerary and residential contexts and found that P. lineatus was consumed year-round, but with a stronger preference during winter. Our results therefore contribute to advance our understanding of the role of coastal environments in early farming societies of southwestern Europe.

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