International Congress in Vitoria

por | Nov 1, 2014 | English articles, Necrópolis islámica


The El Patiaz Cultural Association presents its project at the conference “Demography, paleopathology and social inequality” on 6 November in Vitoria

poster conference

The ongoing promotion of the medieval Islamic necropolis in Tauste (Zaragoza) makes an appearance at a specialised conference. The research project conducted by the local El Patiaz Cultural Association will be present at the International Conference “Demography, paleopathology and social inequality” that is to be held on the 6 and 7 of November in Vitoria organized by EHV-UPV.

Anthropologist Miriam Pina, the person in charge of the anthropological analysis of the remains uncovered at the Islamic cemetery in Tauste, will present the scientific poster prepared together with the excavation director, archaeologist Francisco Javier Gutierrez.

The poster describes the paleopathological findings uncovered during four excavation campaigns in the town near Zaragoza.

The document entitled “Paleopathology and stress markers of the medieval Islamic population of Tauste (Zaragoza)” details the research conducted since 2010 by the El Patiaz Cultural Association. It also elaborates on the anthropological research on illnesses developed by the population of the medieval Tauste that used trace elements in the pathologies found in bones uncovered.

In addition, the research gives an account of other traces called stress markers that were identified in bone remains. These markers imply changes in osteomorphological features as a result of usual or repeated professional activities. Identification of these markers made it possible to generate a hypothesis about the lifestyles, social, economic and labour organization of the population that used to inhabit Tauste.

An example of such markers is the combination of robustness and a clear trace of insertion of specific ligaments and muscles in bones. Depending on the location of these signs one can see a bigger development of a certain group of muscles and associate it with a specific kind of activity that requires the repeated use of this muscle.

Result of the study

As far as the Islamic population in Tauste is concerned, one can identify two common processes. On one hand, oral pathologies that stem from the lack of hygiene characteristics for that period of time and the use of teeth as tools; on the other, osteoarthritic signs, mostly found in vertebral bodies caused by degenerations characteristic of old age and indicate moderate physical activity.

Among the inhabitants of Tauste stress markers were mostly found in adults. Most of them represent stress signs associated with professional activities in the lower and upper limbs, mostly arms, hands, knees and feet. This fact implies that the population was physically active. Some of their activities included carrying heavy loads, moving their hands and arms making an effort and separating them widely, and having long walks. 

Islamic necropolis in Tauste

miriam and leyre. Conference

The El Patiaz Cultural Association of Tauste within our promotional and research campaign on the historical and cultural heritage started the archaeological project in 2010.

It changed the historic understanding of the Muslim presence in the area, which until then was considered incidental and insignificant. The discovery of the Islamic necropolis that extends over a 2-hectare area shows the presence of a steady and settled population inhabiting the place.

Archaeologist Francisco Javier Gutierrez, excavation director, estimates that this necropolis might have around 4,500 tombs. Besides, the fact that it consists of two levels implies that it occupied an extended territory and remained there for long.

Since 2010 four archaeologic campaigns have been conducted. They were sponsored by the El Patiaz Cultural Association and the funds were raised by several micro-donation campaigns. During these excavations, the remains of 44 bodies were uncovered and sent for a further basic anthropological analysis.

The research project on the Islamic necropolis in Tauste currently includes a study on the paleo diet, and it is planned to carry out more DNA studies along with new carbon-14 analyses to complement the existing ones that date the necropolis between the 8th and 11th centuries, which, in turn, makes it the most ancient in Spain documented to date along with the one in Pamplona.

You can read about islamic cementery excavation of Tauste here

For further information you can use these telephone numbers:

MIRIAM PINA (Press and anthropologist): 636827926

FRANCISCO GUTIERREZ (Archaeologist): 690901119


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The translation of this page is included in the Zaragoza Provincial Council Grants for the Dissemination and Revitalisation of Cultural Heritage in the year 2022.

La traducción de está página esta incluida dentro de las Ayudas de la Diputación Provincial de Zaragoza para la Difusión y Dinamización del Patrimonio Cultural en el año 2022.