The coexistence of cultural identities and their interaction is a fundamental topic of social sciences that is not easily addressed in prehistory. Differences in mortuary treatment can help approach this issue. Here, we present a multi-isotope study to track both diet and mobility through the life histories of 32 broadly coeval Late Neolithic individuals interred in caves and in megalithic graves of a restricted region of northern Iberia. The results show significant differences in infant- and child-rearing practices, in subsistence strategies, and in landscape use between burial locations. From this, we posit that the presence of communities with distinct lifestyles and cultural backgrounds is a primary reason for Late Neolithic variability in burial location in Western Europe and provides evidence of an early "them and us" scenario. We argue that this differentiation could have played a role in the building of lasting structures of socioeconomic inequality and, occasionally, violent conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaay2169
JournalScience Advances
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2020

ID: 49332700