SKIN explores relatedness beyond biological links in European Copper and Bronze Age societies.

The study of double or multiple graves of these periods and their human remains are key to understanding the origin of these changes. Even though some of the multiple burials may be the result of a catastrophic event, there must be some intention to burying two individuals together, sharing a particular funerary ritual and even some outstanding grave goods. It is reasonable to infer that the individuals also had some sort of relationship during life, especially when this combination is made up of adult women and children.

The site on which this project is based,Humanejos (Parla, Madrid, Spain), is exceptional for its large number of funerary structures with c. 170 individuals, spanning the whole trajectory of both millennia and comprising a variety of burial practices, including primary and secondary interments as well as single and multiple graves. Humanejos is also exceptional due to its high number of non-adult individuals, which exceeds 60.


SKIN will analyse the nature of different relationships between co-buried individuals in Iberia, c. 3000-1000 BC. It will adopt ethnographic, archaeological and bioarchaeological approaches, including aDNA and Sr-isotope analysis, to investigate to what extent kinship relations were based on genetic links, or instead, included constructs complementing and extending the nuclear family. Special attention will be paid to allomothering and cooperative care, two practices extensively documented cross-culturally, but rarely investigated in prehistory.

The Copper Age (third millennium BC) is a period of major cultural and demographic changes in all of Europe, which lead to the emergence of incipient social ranking in the funerary record. In the centre of Iberia, these social changes are especially evident in the Bell Beaker period, when accumulated wealth became subject to inheritance, and children turned into a key component of this new system. Whereas this development continues in other areas, the funerary record drastically changed in Central Iberia in the Bronze Age (second millennium BC) to apparently egalitarian graves with merely simple grave goods and no signs of social differentiation.

Principal Investigator




Marie Curie Fellowship