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Diet in Medieval Portugal: exploring inter-faith and social dynamics through stable isotope analysis

Toso, Alice M (2018) Diet in Medieval Portugal: exploring inter-faith and social dynamics through stable isotope analysis. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Medieval Portugal, tucked between a Christian north and an Islamic south, and at a crossroad between Africa and Europe, saw the birth and development of a multi-faith and multi-cultural society. Muslims and Christians co-existed in this region, shaping a unique pluralistic society, first under Islamic political control and later under Christian rule following the Christian conquest of the 12th century. This thesis applies carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope analysis to characterises early and late medieval diet under Islamic (8th-12th) and Christian rule (12th-15th), exploring the impact of a shifting political system, status and faith onto economy, food availability and consumption. Analysis of stable isotopes of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) was performed on bone collagen from 176 animals and 251 humans including Muslims and Christians sampled from sites covering a north-south trajectory (Laranjal, Coimbra, Lisbon, Setubal, Beja, Silves and Loulé) with a date range between the 8th and 15th centuries. Results indicate that a faith-related difference in diet exists but is also related to chronology and geographical location. Early medieval Muslim diet is based on animal protein and C3 plants with possible inputs of low trophic level fish in Setubal and Loulé; while bigger proportions of marine fish appear in the diet of late medieval Muslims in Lisbon. Early medieval Christian diet is based on terrestrial resources with a reliance on C4 plants in Coimbra; while late medieval Christian sites in southern Portugal show a reliance on marine resources. Results show a difference in diet between early and late medieval sites with a clear change in economy possibly brought about by the Christian conquest. Multi-faith sites (Lisbon, Beja and Silves) show an increment of at least 11% in the quantity of marine protein included in the human diet of Muslims and Christians from the early to the late medieval period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Dr. Alice M Toso
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2019 09:36
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2019 09:36
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22505

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