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Stable isotope analysis of medieval pilgrims and populations along the Camino de Santiago

El Cascayal

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
23:Valença Var Espiritual Apr; Norte Cudillero Oct
Most interesting article first published online Journal of Archeological Science 1 February, 23.

"To the field of stars: Stable isotope analysis of medieval pilgrims and populations along the Camino de Santiago in Navarre and Aragon, Spain"

Highlights

The radiocarbon dating results corroborate the use of the pilgrim's shell since at least the 11th century CE.

The data suggest that the pilgrimage was mainly an urban phenomenon for populations from the northern Iberian Peninsula.

The pilgrimage was conducted equally by women and men.

Female pilgrims may have had greater access to animal protein than their male counterparts.

The individuals buried with the scallop shell had δ15N and δ13C indicative of a heterogeneous group.”

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2023.103847
 
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Thanks for posting this... have just been reading more in the anthropology of pilgrimage and returned to Turner and Turner (1974) to find that one source for the estimate for how many people made pilgrimage to any of the great sites in the medieval period rests on tchotchkes buried with them (tourist souvenirs as well as signs of having arrived at the place). The scallop shell, sand, holy water in a vial, bits of bone bought/sold as "relics" etc. So important to them that they went to the grave. A kind of medieval "power flex" if you will.

We have *always* been tourigrinos.... thankfully for those who have for 1000 years relied on pilgrims opening their perceptions to *all* the blessings (new foods, foreign languages, different styles in artistic and architectural representation, etc etc) on the paths.
The (rather tedious and perennial) effort to separate the pilgrim from the tourist, the effort to map onto camino culturally distinct and external practices...

I do enjoy the repeated arrival of evidence that these neurotic impulses to separate the pure from the impure are very, very contemporary.

Humans....

[footnote: on the issue of the "flex" or the boast of power through material goods: the prevalence of non-native species of tree in Northern Spain (various palms, large cacti, and the Surinam Paintbrush) arrived in the 20th C. to signal that that particular landowner had travelled that far away, to that 'exotic' a location for leisure and adventure.]
 
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Thanks for posting this... have just been reading more in the anthropology of pilgrimage and returned Turner and Turner (1974) that one source for the estimate for how many people made pilgrimage to any of the great sites in the medieval period rests on tchotchkes buried with them (tourist souvenirs as well as signs of having arrived at the place). The scallop shell, sand, holy water in a vial, bits of bone bought/sold as "relics" etc. So important to them that they went to the grave. A kind of medieval "power flex" if you will.

We have *always* been tourigrinos.... thankfully for those who have for 1000 years relied on pilgrims opening their perceptions to *all* the blessings (new foods, foreign languages, different styles in artistic and architectural representation, etc etc) on the paths.
The (rather tedious and perennial) effort to separate the pilgrim from the tourist, the effort to map onto camino culturally distinct and external practices...

I do enjoy the repeated arrival of evidence that these neurotic impulses to separate the pure from the impure are very, very contemporary.

Humans....

[footnote: on the issue of the "flex" or the boast of power through material goods: the prevalence of non-native species of tree in Northern Spain (various palms, large cacti, and the Surinam Paintbrush) arrived in the 20th C. to signal that that particular landowner had travelled that far away, to that 'exotic' a location for leisure and adventure.]
Nice comments. I have no research to back this up but I imagine human nature hasn’t changed much and those neurotic impulses you mention were probably alive and well centuries ago. I’m curious if there’s any research that indicates otherwise.
 
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Most interesting article first published online Journal of Archeological Science 1 February, 23.

Highlights

The radiocarbon dating results corroborate the use of the pilgrim's shell since at least the 11th century CE.

The data suggest that the pilgrimage was mainly an urban phenomenon for populations from the northern Iberian Peninsula.

The pilgrimage was conducted equally by women and men.

Female pilgrims may have had greater access to animal protein than their male counterparts.

The individuals buried with the scallop shell had δ15N and δ13C indicative of a heterogeneous group.”

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2023.103847
The title scares me.
So let me ask the community: What are your three favorite books about the culture and beliefs and lifestyles (etc) of the pilgrims who have walked the Camino, from pre-history to modern times. No scholarly tomes, please, just interesting and (more or less) factual accounts.
 
Nice comments. I have no research to back this up but I imagine human nature hasn’t changed much and those neurotic impulses you mention were probably alive and well centuries ago. I’m curious if there’s any research that indicates otherwise.
The desire to separate people into the pure and the impure? See Mary Douglas 1966 _Purity and Danger_.

But do we have any indication that people making pilgrimages thought to categorise people as either tourists OR pilgrims but not both? NO... not until far more very deliberate separations of "tourism" as a consumer good entirely separate from travel for the purposes of religious/scholarly edification. We do know, for example, that making "grand tour" was considered the mark of an educated person of a certain class and required visiting the Cathedral sites of the North Atlantic Islands and continental Europe. Merely to travel to the continent did not make the grade.
Post WW2 when mass tourism took hold, the "great sites" informed the first packages but were separated from religiosity. Paris and the Louvre, Montmartre and La Coupole, maybe the Opera if you could fit it in. Rome for the Forum and the Sistine Chapel, but not for mass... Florence for the art, but not requiring the Duomo... And Spain was -- for the better part of 5 decades a kind of "no go zone" for North Americans anyway. So the revival of "the camino" has been very much about the revival of ancient roads that brought enormous economic prosperity in the movement of goods to/from Spain, but... and I'm still thinking this through in more academic terms elsewhere... the "walking meditation" kinds of "here's how you do the camino properly" dogmas that have arisen over the last few decades seem to have arisen from a kind of "new age" collision (post MacLean) with hybrid translations of other, distinct pilgrimage practices (as in Buddhism)... a kind of asceticism that was not required of early pilgrims except as a matter of practicality (not of spirituality or religiosity except for those who had taken vows of poverty). The medieval pilgrim released from his village took little with him (or her) because walking was the affordable mode and required minimalism. But for as long as people have been making the pilgrimage, there have been those able to travel by coach or horse...
And it is well, well established in multiple sources that those who already have the good fortune to live in the lee of a powerful saint's remains do not need to make a pilgrimage. They are already blessed. Their obligations turn to the sustaining of the pilgrimage sites, not to travelling them.
 
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Thank you for sharing this link. It is remarkable that we can determine the diets of some ancestors from testing today of remains like teeth and ribs. There is also the mention of Irulegui Castle, which leads one to learn of the Hand of Irulegui, a recent discovery.

Interesting that scallop shells were the grave goods that served to distinguish the subjects as SdC pilgrims. Travel is those days was difficult compared to today, and a journey undertaken usually had a deep purpose because of the hardship, uncertainty and risks along the way. Tourism was not an aspect of travel in Europe until the 17th Century.

The study asserts that the common folk ate cereals like rye, that wheat was a luxury item for the privileged who also had animal protein as a staple. Common people then looking for a way to escape from the ordinary, might have dreamed of beefsteak instead of testing the grade to O Cebreiro.
 
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The title scares me.
So let me ask the community: What are your three favorite books about the culture and beliefs and lifestyles (etc) of the pilgrims who have walked the Camino, from pre-history to modern times. No scholarly tomes, please, just interesting and (more or less) factual accounts.
Fear not, just skip over the technical data and digest what you can.

Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook by Gitlitz and Davidson.
Pilgrims guide to Santiago de Compostela by Melczer.
Iberia by Michener.

Good readin!
 
Interesting that scallop shells were the grave goods that served to distinguish the subjects as SdC pilgrims.
The study appears to use this as a premise, but I couldn't see where it either established this nor pointed to earlier academic work that had established this linkage. It might be a plausible explanation, but it didn't appear to have any scientific rigour. It made me wonder, perhaps, whether this is a truism of the the archaeology of the Camino. To me, archaeology appears full of fairly creative interpretations based on very limited evidence. This just might be one more instance of that.
 
The title scares me.
So let me ask the community: What are your three favorite books about the culture and beliefs and lifestyles (etc) of the pilgrims who have walked the Camino, from pre-history to modern times. No scholarly tomes, please, just interesting and (more or less) factual accounts.
I loved "The Way of the Wild Goose" by Beebe Bahrami, I think written in 2019. She walks 3 different Camino routes, including the Camino Frances, tracing pre-Christian symbols honoring ancient Earth mother, nature & the cosmos, that are today still found in the oldest churches. She has also written a guidebook for the Camino Frances, featuring sacred sights, historic villages, and local food & wine. It's published by Moon travel guides.
 
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The study appears to use this as a premise, but I couldn't see where it either established this nor pointed to earlier academic work that had established this linkage. It might be a plausible explanation, but it didn't appear to have any scientific rigour. It made me wonder, perhaps, whether this is a truism of the the archaeology of the Camino. To me, archaeology appears full of fairly creative interpretations based on very limited evidence. This just might be one more instance of that.
Did you just declare an entire scientific field invalid? That’s a pretty sweeping claim without the evidence to support the view. Yes, the use of the scallop shell is a “truism”, but that truism comes from so many sources at this point that within the field one would look quite silly repeatedly verifying a premise long established in historical documents, in burial records, in excavations across Europe (what with many cemeteries being dug up and moved as a way of trying to address both new waves of plague and of urban development etc). There are also cooperations with other disciplines such as marine biology which helps to identify scallop shells acquired from the Bay of Biscay and various estuary sources in Iberia as compared to say… off the coast of Amalfi or the English Channel etc.
Archeology is not my discipline in the 4 fields, but they are my colleagues, and they do not pluck interpretations from the air. Conclusions, hypothesis and interprerations arise from the physical evidence, from the ability to carbon date, and from comparing the findings to what is already available with regard to the larger cultural context.
The medieval period not actually having been dark at all, there is an enormous body of cultural evidence to help inform the understanding that people were not simply being buried with the compost bin from the last supper they had.
(And as far as that goes, the renovation of the Louvre in the 1990s revealed the trash heap from the kitchens of the 12th C palace that had been there under Philippe II — if memory serves— and the bones, pottery remnants, metals etc revealed much about daily life within the palace walls. The subterranean museum for this project is marvellous).
 
Did you just declare an entire scientific field invalid?
I questioned one article, based on a general concern that there are either branches of the discipline or individual practitioners whose conclusions seem to lack the rigour of other branches of science. The particular article that was linked above appears to assert that every burial with a scallop shell is that of a pilgrim. Perhaps there is evidence of that, but what is it? Are there other plausible explanations for the presence of the scallop shell, presumably because it is a prized object, being interred with the body? Was there corroboration in writings of the time, not only of the prized nature of the scallop shell, but that it was only buried with a known pilgrim and not with some other person to whom the shell had been passed, eg as a gift. How does one account for individuals who might have had someone travel to Santiago on their behalf and return with a scallop shell, now no longer associated with the actual pilgrim? Was this practice even present in the time period of the burials being examined? I suggest that to a reasonably inquisitive reader, all of these things would go to weaken the strength of any conclusions based on a assertion that everyone buried with a scallop shell was a pilgrim.

As an aside, there is one Australian university where the Archaeology Department is in the Arts Faculty, and not in the Science Faculty. Given my clearly cynical views about this, I thought that this was entirely justified! It's not that I think that the practitioners don't apply themselves with due diligence to their work, but for all that they establish as fact about a matter, they are still faced with creating an interpretation of those facts that cannot be tested in the same way that can be done with other fields of scientific study.
 
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I questioned one article, based on a general concern that there are either branches of the discipline or individual practitioners whose conclusions seem to lack the rigour of other branches of science. The particular article that was linked above appears to assert that every burial with a scallop shell is that of a pilgrim. Perhaps there is evidence of that, but what is it? Are there other plausible explanations for the presence of the scallop shell, presumably because it is a prized object, being interred with the body? Was there corroboration in writings of the time, not only of the prized nature of the scallop shell, but that it was only buried with a known pilgrim and not with some other person to whom the shell had been passed, eg as a gift. How does one account for individuals who might have had someone travel to Santiago on their behalf and return with a scallop shell, now no longer associated with the actual pilgrim? Was this practice even present in the time period of the burials being examined? I suggest that to a reasonably inquisitive reader, all of these things would go to weaken the strength of any conclusions based on a assertion that everyone buried with a scallop shell was a pilgrim.

As an aside, there is one Australian university where the Archaeology Department is in the Arts Faculty, and not in the Science Faculty. Given my clearly cynical views about this, I thought that this was entirely justified! It's not that I think that the practitioners don't apply themselves with due diligence to their work, but for all that they establish as fact about a matter, they are still faced with creating an interpretation of those facts that cannot be tested in the same way that can be done with other fields of scientific study.
The short answer is that one ought to avoid pronouncing on the research and methods outside one’s area of expertise.

A second very broad point is that the administrative houses of disciplines has almost nothing to do with the division of arts and sciences. How psychology sits in medicine in one location, in science in another, and in arts in another but teaches and researches entirely the same things has to do with Byzantine matters of organizational structure. Archeology ends up in arts fairly frequently in schools that do not run all 4 fields (largely an American convention, the 4 fields, anyway). Large branches of anthropology can end up in faculties of medicine because many of those in field teach things like gross anatomy, evolutionary biology, and clinical communications/ethmomethodology.

To object to something written for people *in field* for not starting *all over again* with what has been broadly established in many literatures from medieval history to religious history, to semiotics and studies of the sacred and the profane, as well as in the known reliance of many groups on shells as forms of currency with the scallop shell being one very particular form of currency is to object based on one’s own ignorance and not on the extant evidence that already exists for a discipline (that it does not need to rehash at the start of every paper). It is hardly the fault of the archeologists that their reach extended to a lay audience as broad as a thread in a camino forum.

To answer a few questions:

Things we now about burials: people do not get buried with the trash except in disasters. Objects buried with individuals are common signifiers to communicate the status or accomplishments of the person. We know that scallop shells were coveted if they came from the correct region, and that many were counterfeited or bought/sold along the way prior to completing the pilgrimage to Saint James (as they are now), but the *idea* was that one could not acquire one until having made it to Santiago and that having one would show one’s priest or magistrate or neighbour that you really had made the journey. It was the compostela for a largely illiterate population. It is not particularly difficult to determine where a particular shell originated (though I would not hold that to be true of the bleached ones easily purchased on the trail now). They could be from China for all I know, and one is not, in the tradition of things, supposed to have one prior to completion of the walk. If, on burial someone who had to abandon the trail contemporary trail before getting to Santiago still gets buried with their bleached shell, this study tells me that there is a very good chance their remains will still reveal a level of privilege distinct from a person buried near them in the pauper’s section.

We also know that those who had money but not time paid others to make pilgrimage for them… an early ‘in vicare pro‘ if you will, but the scallop shell for completion went to the one who had paid for it, and that person would be buried with it (just as my mother will be buried with her vicare pro compostela). That certainly satisfied the definition at the time of “pilgrim” — though it could, of course, confound some of the biology encountered in the remains of those who always enjoyed good health. The medieval structure of piety allows for this and the archeologists do not try to sort out who was a “true pilgrim” from “who sent someone else” as the point has to do with the belief of the person not the action.

The authors report finding evidence in these bodies more frequently than in those buried in the same locations and eras without the shells, and that there are health and diet markers in the bones that give the biological markers to verify what we already know from medical historians: that those on pilgrimage often had access to better food for a significant period of time as compared to those who did not travel.

Here, we have to keep in mind that people had to get not only *to* the pilgrimage site, but also back from it… a 6 month journey would not be unusual, many would be longer, and the impact on the body of 6 months of better food access and reasonable but not wildly dangerous exercise will leave a signature. For many medical thinkers at the time, often also men and women of religious faith, those markers constituted miraculous cures.

Even on this point the researchers are cautious and argue that a single pilgrimage could not alter the isotope signatures for a lifetime. They are not, therefore, saying that one sojourn altered their health, they are saying that the presence of the shell might be a shorthand to predicting that such bodies will reveal the effect of social status on diet/exercise/leisure/health.

Sometimes the biological signatures are even visible to the naked eye (in bone density, evidence of injury and repair, wear-and-tear on joints, etc. Sometimes lab testing of bones, of chemical signatures left in clothing will reveal more information. Evidence from teeth, nails, hair… these are standard places to look for questions about diet. In this study, the isotope signatures in bones and collagen were compared across those with and without the shell in their burial accoutrements, and the presence of the shell reliably corresponds with alterations in diet associated with the benefits of general class status and of pilgrimage diet. The bodies without shells buried with them show the markers of the much more limited largely rye-based diet (which, by the way, required roughly 100 loaves of bread per week to keep an average sized family fed, and was often “soaked” at the mill to provide false weights leading to less nutrition on the plate than one had paid for (hence the expression, “I got soaked” to mean that someone ripped you off). Few families could produce the hundred or so loaves per week so most were in a constant state of under-nourishment…

The article provides an extensive literature review that evidences the meaning and use of the shell in the records of the day. The article maps out how ancient records regarding health and putative pilgrimage are evidenced in the bodies as a correspondence. Id est, to have the shell is to be able to claim the status of a pilgrim (the cultural literature of the time establishes the point), and the person with that status bears the markers in their of enhanced social class to corroborate the benefits that a pilgrim status can sustain or confer.

The broader literature extensively cited in the article references historical constructs of the time is established enough that requiring the point be be redemonstrated is no more necessary than for a peer review panel to require a marine biologist to restate the meaning of water, nor that a theological dissertation be required to reiterate the importance of holy water at mass.

One might want to ask for an operational definition of “pilgrim” here, but that does not mean that the paper lacks rigour. It means that one is not versed in the background that allows the work to move from an established premise to test what the premise might show in the body. The question was not “Are these pilgrims?” the question was, “Will the remains of those who carry a symbol of pilgrimage tell us differential information about those who carry the symbol and those who do not?” And the answer, fairly simply, was “yes”, but there is no specific claim that it means that anyone privileged enough to carry the symbol was also a “true pilgrim” in the sense that gets tossed about now.

When one does not see in obvious terms how a method has been carried out or a conclusion reached, one writes to the author to ask for more information.
 
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Hello all! I have re-read the article and find it utterly fascinating.
This study has looked at the remains of 82 humans from 8 different burial/archeological sites as well as 42 fauna specimens.
Using accepted isotope and carbon dating they have found interesting correlations. It is a multicenter and multidisciplinary study. This is the largest presumed number of Peregrino remains studied to date. It evaluated medieval people from Aragon and Navarre from the 11th-15th century. They assumed those buried with the shell were Peregrinos, were Peregrinos undercounted? The shell, representing having completed the Camino, reportedly came into use in the 11th century. Perhaps some Peregrinos were not buried with their shell? They have explored diet and hierarchy of grain as relating to social and economic groups. They have considered the historical impacts of pilgrimage, the need and creation of settlements, infrastructure, urban development. They have explored the social structure of those who could embark on such a pilgrimage.
Striking to me is that the number of women walking was equivalent to the men. It talks about protein intake and how the higher protein intake for Peregrinas was likely due to a higher social status. Women were free to walk until after the 15th century when religious constraints/restrictions were subsequently placed on women who walk. Striking!
I find all of this utterly fascinating. In modern times, we too experience multiple and different ways to walk, that are also related to socio-economic individual and characteristics as well as pandemics and wars.
 
The short answer is that one ought to avoid pronouncing on the research and methods outside one’s area of expertise.
This completely misses the point. As for your longer post, TLDR. If you don't address the fundamental rhetorical logic and the need to establish the rigour of that in an academic paper even to an ordinary reader, you and I are not discussing the same issues. This is a matter easily determined without specialist knowledge. Any academic who relies on specialists knowing the sources justifying the postulates to an argument, and feeling that they don't need to reveal how those postulates have been established by previous research or the current work, isn't making their conclusions open and transparent.

ps I don't think suggesting that the underlying postulates have been justified somewhere or somehow in one or more of the items in a lengthy bibliography is a replacement for making such references clear in the text itself.
 
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Hello all! I have re-read the article and find it utterly fascinating.
This study has looked at the remains of 82 humans from 8 different burial/archeological sites as well as 42 fauna specimens.
Using accepted isotope and carbon dating they have found interesting correlations. It is a multicenter and multidisciplinary study. This is the largest presumed number of Peregrino remains studied to date. It evaluated medieval people from Aragon and Navarre from the 11th-15th century. They assumed those buried with the shell were Peregrinos, were Peregrinos undercounted? The shell, representing having completed the Camino, reportedly came into use in the 11th century. Perhaps some Peregrinos were not buried with their shell? They have explored diet and hierarchy of grain as relating to social and economic groups. They have considered the historical impacts of pilgrimage, the need and creation of settlements, infrastructure, urban development. They have explored the social structure of those who could embark on such a pilgrimage.
Striking to me is that the number of women walking was equivalent to the men. It talks about protein intake and how the higher protein intake for Peregrinas was likely due to a higher social status. Women were free to walk until after the 15th century when religious constraints/restrictions were subsequently placed on women who walk. Striking!
I find all of this utterly fascinating. In modern times, we too experience multiple and different ways to walk, that are also related to socio-economic individual and characteristics as well as pandemics and wars.
Thanks again for posting the article, your summary and comments.

To shell or not to shell... is not the only question, as you suggest.

In the time period from which the remains came, the RC faithful’s idea of a plenary indulgence had much greater meaning and value than today. It was a forgiveness bestowed by the highest earthly authority that insured eternal bliss in the afterlife for the pious recipient. What could be more desirable to the believer?

Does it then seem likely that those who had received the indulgence would want the physical token of that benefit to be on their person for their burial and ultimately as witness for the promised resurrection of the body?

Also at least some of the study remains were buried inside churches, a privilege for only the most pious and influential of the faithful. Take a look at the floors of so many Camino churches and cathedrals you visit today.

To obtain healing was and is a goal for many pilgrims who believe in the power of holy relics to make that possible. As a mystery, this dynamic becomes anemic when reduced into a fact by temporal proof.

Whether or not the shell is proof of what we want to believe about now or then, it must have had some profound meaning to those laid to rest with it. We can say the scientific study establishes that those buried with the shell show verifiable evidence they were well-fed.
 
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This completely misses the point. As for your longer post, TLDR. If you don't address the fundamental rhetorical logic and the need to establish the rigour of that in an academic paper even to an ordinary reader, you and I are not discussing the same issues. This is a matter easily determined without specialist knowledge. Any academic who relies on specialists knowing the sources justifying the postulates to an argument, and feeling that they don't need to reveal how those postulates have been established by previous research or the current work, isn't making their conclusions open and transparent.

ps I don't think suggesting that the underlying postulates have been justified somewhere or somehow in one or more of the items in a lengthy bibliography is a replacement for making such references clear in the text itself.
This is inaccurate. No short peer-reviewed scholarly article (which is joining a conversation in progress at a dinner table of disciplinary ideas) has the mandate to rehearse the entire history of its field. If the authors were writing a popular piece, they'd need to give more context and the genre would be quite different. Specialist to specialist, the bibliographic trail is quite clear. As to dismissing a measured, thoughtful, and yes, expert response in the genre of a forum discussion post as TL;DR, that's super unfortunate because I took the time to read the responses and they are very, very interesting and edifying. I see such writings from (yes) experts on Camino history or anthropology to be as interesting and edifying as the practical expertise on here from our modern pilgrim colleagues and friends. I think there is room in our capacious hearts and minds for both, and generosity of spirit in this regard always wins, in academia just as in lay discourse.
 
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With some spare time this week, I was lucky to be able to read some of the citations that were available online. Once more these kinds of studies have been ongoing for a long time, this one used acceptable methodology and is peer reviewed in an archeological journal. Though a healthy dose of skepticism is welcome when reading these articles by no means does it negate the research and its conclusions.
So many discussions may be generated from this source, for instance, one could argue what is the overall significance in that of 80 subjects, 20 or 25% of them presumed Pilgrims because of the Vieira found with them compared to the population of that time?
To me, I wonder, how many modern day Peregrinos would even want to be buried (if they are planning to be buried at all) with their shell for those who even carry a shell at all? I think it poses lots of interesting questions based on their research that is built on prior well cited scholarly work.
Some modern Pilgrims may be interested in the trajectory of Pilgrimage over time and some may not. Those of us who are interested in a particular topic should be free to enjoy a civil discussion/exploration in this forum of passionate Peregrinos.
 
This is inaccurate. No short peer-reviewed scholarly article (which is joining a conversation in progress at a dinner table of disciplinary ideas) has the mandate to rehearse the entire history of its field. If the authors were writing a popular piece, they'd need to give more context and the genre would be quite different. Specialist to specialist, the bibliographic trail is quite clear. As to dismissing a measured, thoughtful, and yes, expert response in the genre of a forum discussion post as TL;DR, that's super unfortunate because I took the time to read the responses and they are very, very interesting and edifying. I see such writings from (yes) experts on Camino history or anthropology to be as interesting and edifying as the practical expertise on here from our modern pilgrim colleagues and friends. I think there is room in our capacious hearts and minds for both, and generosity of spirit in this regard always wins, in academia just as in lay discourse.
Thank you for commenting and validating El Cascayal’s efforts to share interesting lines of attention. I have enjoyed reading it and following up on the parts unfamiliar to me. With the internet as both an instant dictionary and encyclopedia, there are fewer excuses for giving up on sampling challenging reading.
 
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With some spare time this week, I was lucky to be able to read some of the citations that were available online. Once more these kinds of studies have been ongoing for a long time, this one used acceptable methodology and is peer reviewed in an archeological journal. Though a healthy dose of skepticism is welcome when reading these articles by no means does it negate the research and its conclusions.
So many discussions may be generated from this source, for instance, one could argue what is the overall significance in that of 80 subjects, 20 or 25% of them presumed Pilgrims because of the Vieira found with them compared to the population of that time?
To me, I wonder, how many modern day Peregrinos would even want to be buried (if they are planning to be buried at all) with their shell for those who even carry a shell at all? I think it poses lots of interesting questions based on their research that is built on prior well cited scholarly work.
Some modern Pilgrims may be interested in the trajectory of Pilgrimage over time and some may not. Those of us who are interested in a particular topic should be free to enjoy a civil discussion/exploration in this forum of passionate Peregrinos.
Thank you for sharing the article and for your follow ups!
 
May I suggest that y'all chill? Take a couple of deep breaths (metaphorically) and step back from the keyboard.

I have been a member of this Forum since late 2012. Over the years, in my passion for the Camino and to help others, I have gotten worked up over some post or another.

It took several warnings, suspensions and even an outright banning for 18-months for me to realize that it simply does not matter. Getting too opinionated, agitated or emotional about any subject is generally not a good thing in open forum. I have learned the hard way to play nice with all my friends in this Forum. Let my experience be an object lesson.

This Forum is a place for collegial discussion. That is why more than 100,000 people are members. We are free to disagree with one another - but in a polite, collegial manner. Once things appear to go beyond that, I recommend that the protagonists take the issue offline to a PM venue - away from the main forum community.

To air one's "dirty rhetorical linen" in the open Forum is only going to incur the moderator's wrath. That is what they are there for - to keep us all on the rails.

Depending on an issue, people can have very strong views and opinions. But, sharing them in open Forum is seldom advisable. Please trust the fellow who has been there and done that - and paid the price. Learn from my errors.

Y'all play nice with one another - y'heah?

Tom
 
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Most interesting article first published online Journal of Archeological Science 1 February, 23.

"To the field of stars: Stable isotope analysis of medieval pilgrims and populations along the Camino de Santiago in Navarre and Aragon, Spain"

Highlights

The radiocarbon dating results corroborate the use of the pilgrim's shell since at least the 11th century CE.

The data suggest that the pilgrimage was mainly an urban phenomenon for populations from the northern Iberian Peninsula.

The pilgrimage was conducted equally by women and men.

Female pilgrims may have had greater access to animal protein than their male counterparts.

The individuals buried with the scallop shell had δ15N and δ13C indicative of a heterogeneous group.”

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2023.10384
 
What does this mean?

The individuals buried with the scallop shell had δ15N and δ13C indicative of a heterogeneous group
 
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They refer to stable isotopes of Nitrogen and Carbon respectively. Because chemical analysis of the human remains yielded similar results, the inference is that they came from the same group, i.e. same area and ethnic background.
 
Way above my pay grade, but it is what dick bird said.
“Carbon isotopic composition (δ13Corg) and nitrogen isotopic composition (δ15N) are indicators of organic matter sources and paleoproductivity.
Definition. Biological productivity involves the synthesis of biogenic materials (skeletal and nonskeletal). Paleopro- ductivity refers to the record of synthesis in the past. Generally, the term is applied to production that occurred prior to times when direct measurements are available.
A common indirect approach to reconstructing paleoproductivity is the analysis of components that reflect changes in nutrients.”
Complicated and not in my area of expertise.
 
Way above my pay grade, but it is what dick bird said.
“Carbon isotopic composition (δ13Corg) and nitrogen isotopic composition (δ15N) are indicators of organic matter sources and paleoproductivity.
Definition. Biological productivity involves the synthesis of biogenic materials (skeletal and nonskeletal). Paleopro- ductivity refers to the record of synthesis in the past. Generally, the term is applied to production that occurred prior to times when direct measurements are available.
A common indirect approach to reconstructing paleoproductivity is the analysis of components that reflect changes in nutrients.”
Complicated and not in my area of expertise.
"Complicated and not in my area of expertise." and way outside my confort zone too. However, it is amazing what you can find on Google. This is something I find via Jstor (but I then had to go to Google to find an open access version). It is also very technical but the abstract and intro are comprehensible to us laypeople. It is an account of an excavation in Winchester, Hants of the tomb of a young man in a lepers' hospital which contained a scallop shell. The chemical analysis revealed he was not local.

 
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Good morning everyone, I am reading about the twenty-four elders on the holy door, and came across this prophet "Aegeo". It mentioned on the website : The image identified as Saint Luke and Aegeo...

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