Open Access! Livestock management at the Late Iron Age site of Baltarga (eastern Pyrenees): an integrated bio-geoarchaeological approach

Ramón y Cajal researcher Lídia Colominas and postdoctoral researcher Abel Gallego-Valle, in collaboration with researchers from CSIC, IPHES and UAB, have published a new paper in the Archaeological Anthropology journal:

Colominas, L., Portillo, M., Morera, J. et al. Livestock management at the Late Iron Age site of Baltarga (eastern Pyrenees): an integrated bio-geoarchaeological approach. Archaeol Anthropol Sci 15, 159 (2023).


Despite the important role of livestock farming amongst Iron Age communities living in mountain regions, there is little information about livestock management, and particularly stabling practises, breeding systems, and grazing/foddering patterns. The study of the ground floor of Building G in Tossal de Baltarga has provided valuable insights into these important issues and has given us a better understanding of the social and economic patterns involved in all these livestock activities. It revealed the existence of a stable from the Late Iron Age, thanks to unique in situ finds of the stabled animals, including four sheep, a goat, and a horse, in addition to a range of organic remains preserved by fire and penning deposits. It is the first documented to date in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula. Through an integrated bio-geoarchaeological approach, combining a range of analytic procedures, including osteology, dental microwear, stable isotopes, phytoliths, dung spherulite analyses, and thin-section micromorphology, for the first time, this study has provided new, high-resolution evidence of livestock management strategies. Specifically, the research shed light on animal penning and feeding practises, revealing variable herbivorous regimes between species, the practise of seasonal movements, and the possible use of fodder as the main dietary regime of the animals stabled there. At the same time, the Baltarga case-study illustrates an indoor production unit that could reveal possible private control of some domestic animals in the Pyrenean Late Iron Age.


  1. Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica (ICAC-CERCA), Plaça d’en Rovellat s/n, Tarragona, Spain
    Lídia Colominas & Abel Gallego-Valle
  2. Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Archaeology of Social Dynamics (2021SGR 501), Institució Milà i Fontanals, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Barcelona, Spain
    Marta Portillo
  3. Department of Antiquity and Middle Age Studies, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Spain
    Jordi Morera, Joan Oller & Oriol Olesti
  4. Department of Prehistory, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Bellaterra, Spain
    Anna Berrocal-Barberà, Oriol López-Bultó, Joaquim Sisa-López de Pablo & Carlos Tornero
  5. Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES-CERCA), Zona Educacional 4, Campus Sescelades URV (Edifici W3), Tarragona, Spain
    Chiara Messana & Carlos Tornero
  6. Departament d’Història i Història de l’Art, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Avinguda de Catalunya 35, Tarragona, Spain
    Chiara Messana


Open Access funding provided thanks to the CRUE-CSIC agreement with Springer Nature. LC is currently supported by a Ramón y Cajal contract (RYC2019-026732-I-AEI/10.13039/ 501100011033). CM has the financial support of the Secretaria d’Universitats i Recerca de la Generalitat de Catalunya and European Social Fund (ESF) “Investing in your future” (2022 FI_B2 00070). The funding for this research has been partially provided within the framework of the projects “Control, gestión y explotación del territorio en la Hispania romana”, PID2021-122879OB-I00, MICIN, and “PATCA-3”, Generalitat de Catalunya, 9071-55/2022.

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