Sex differences in diet and life conditions in a rural Medieval Islamic population from Spain (La Torrecilla, Granada): An isotopic and osteological approach to gender differentiation in al‐Andalus

Jiménez‐Brobeil, Sylvia A.; Charisi, Drosia; Laffranchi, Zita; Maroto Benavides, Rosa M.; Delgado Huertas, Antonio; Milella, Marco (2021). Sex differences in diet and life conditions in a rural Medieval Islamic population from Spain (La Torrecilla, Granada): An isotopic and osteological approach to gender differentiation in al‐Andalus. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 175(4), pp. 794-815. Wiley 10.1002/ajpa.24277

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Objectives

Gender differentiation can influence the diet, physical activity, and health of human populations. Multifaceted approaches are therefore necessary when exploring the biological consequences of gender-related social norms in the past. Here, we explore the links between diet, physiological stress, physical activity, and gender differentiation in the Medieval Islamic population of La Torrecilla (Granada, Spain, 13th–15th century AD), by analyzing stable isotope patterns, stature, and long bone diaphyseal measurements.
Materials and Methods

The sample includes 96 individuals (48 females, 48 males) classified as young and middle adults (20–34 and 35–50 years of age respectively). Diet was reconstructed through the analysis of δ13C and δ15N. Stature, humeral and femoral diaphyseal shape and product of diaphyseal diameters served as proxies of physiological stress and physical activity.
Results

Isotopic ratios suggest a substantial dietary contribution of C4 plants (e.g., sorghum, millet), a variable access to animal proteins, and no differences between the sexes. Sexual dimorphism in stature derives from a markedly low female stature. Long bone diaphyseal properties suggest that men performed various physically stressful activities, whereas women were involved in less physically demanding activities (possibly related to household work).
Discussion

Gender differentiation in La Torrecilla was expressed by a possibly differential parental investment in male versus female offspring and by culturally sanctioned gender differences in the performance of physical tasks. Diet was qualitatively homogenous between the sexes, although we cannot rule out quantitative differences. Our results shed new light on the effects of gender-related social norms on human development and lifestyle.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Laffranchi, Zita and Milella, Marco

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
500 Science
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

ISSN:

0002-9483

Publisher:

Wiley

Language:

English

Submitter:

Marco Milella

Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2021 17:25

Last Modified:

18 Jul 2021 01:33

Publisher DOI:

10.1002/ajpa.24277

PubMed ID:

33772756

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/155989

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/155989

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