Patterns of funerary variability, diet, and developmental stress in a Celtic population from NE Italy (3rd-1st c BC)
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Laffranchi Z, Cavalieri Manasse G, Salzani L, Milella M (2019) Patterns of funerary variability, diet, and developmental stress in a Celtic population from NE Italy (3rd-1st c BC). PLoS ONE 14(4): e0214372
Little is known about the types of social organization characterizing the pre-Roman Celtic populations of Italy. Here, we explore the funerary variability characterizing the late Iron Age site of Seminario Vescovile (SV: Verona, Italy, 3rd-1st c. BC), and test its possible correlation to diet and relative exposure to developmental stressors. Patterns on funerary treatment (N = 125), δ13C and δ15N (N = 90), and linear enamel hypoplasia (N = 47) from SV are compared, and their possible association with sex and age-at-death further discussed. Results point to the presence at SV of variable funerary customs while at the same time demonstrating a rather homogenous diet and exposure to developmental stressors: funerary treatment is mainly correlated to age-at-death but do not appear to be associated to either isotopic patterns or hypoplasia frequencies. Accordingly, even if some weak social differentiation may have characterized the individuals buried at SV, this was not reflected in markedly differing living conditions. Our study is the first to attempt an exploration of the links between age, sex, funerary variability, and diet in a pre-Roman Celtic community from Italy. While highlighting the potential of a multifaceted approach in bioarcheology, it also points to a series of analytical and theoretical issues relevant when trying to disentangle the cultural and biological dimensions of social differentiation in the past.