Maria Saña Seguí

Contact information
Animal Domestication
Biomolecular analyses

Research lines

  • Origins and development of early Neolithic societies in the Mediterranean basin (Iberian Peninsula, Near East, North Africa)
  • Study of animal domestication and early animal husbandry practices in Mediterranean area
  • Foodways and cooking practices during the Neolithic
  • Integration of biomolecular analyses into archaeozoological research
  • Biomechanics, geometric morphometrics and paleopathology studies in Archaeozoology

Research is focused on the generation of historical knowledge about the origins and development of Neolithic societies, during a wide period of time between the last hunter-gatherer societies and the third millennium cal BC. The archaeological research is conducted over a large geographical area; in the Near East, working directly at Neolithic sites in Syria (Tell Halula, Chagar Bazar, Tell Amarna, Ein Dara, Tell Boeuid, Umm el Tlel and Kashkashok), Turkey (Akarçay tepe) and Jordan (Jewel Mutawaq); and in North Africa, with projects focused over a wide area of the Western Sahara, including archaeological excavations at the sites of Sluguilla Lawash, l’abric dels Nius (Uadi Kenta) and Cueva del Diablo de Lejuad, among others. In the north-east of the Iberian Peninsula, research has concentrated on the volcanic area of La Garrotxa, where a total of five Neolithic sites have been excavated, and the lacustrine basin of Banyoles, at the site of La Draga, the only Neolithic lakeshore site currently being excavated in the Mediterranean area. Work at these sites has made available an outstanding archaeological record, yielding data of the highest quality about such transcendental historical processes as domestication in the early Holocene, especially as regards aspects of animal husbandry. Research in methodology and techniques, in the field of Bioarchaeology, has focused on the adaptation and integration of new analytical techniques for the study of archaeological materials, based on biogeochemistry. Most research has concentrated on genetic studies and stable isotope analysis, with these aspects being complemented by studies based on biomechanics, geometric morphometrics, paleopathology and three-dimensional recording of archaeological materials. These studies have signified a radical change in the possibilities of Archaeozoology.


Works on faunal assemblages from...

Direction and supervision of the archaeozoological analyses from over 75 archaeological sites in the Iberian Peninsula, France, Italy, Algeria, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and Iraq.


Research projects

2018-2021: HAR2017-88304-P: Arqueobioquímica de la alimentación durante el Neolítico peninsular: nuevos marcadores y referenciales para el estudio de las pautas de reproducción y consumo en Arqueología (Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad). IP: Maria Saña

2015-2017: HAR2014-60081-R: Producción animal y cerámica en el Neolítico peninsular. estudio biogeoquímico integrado del consumo y las practicas culinarias (Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad). IP: Maria Saña

2019-2021: CLT009/18/00023: Evolució del poblament i ús del territori al prepirineu oriental durant la prehistòria recent (10000-900 cal BC), Departamemt de Cultura, Generalitat de Catalunya. IP: Maria Saña


Featured publications

Saña, M., Antolín, F., Alcántara, R., Sierra, A., Tornero, R. (2020). Integrating domesticates: earliest farming experiences in the Iberian Peninsula, in: Gron, K; Rowley-Conwy, P; Sorensen, L (Eds), Farmers at the Frontier: A Pan-European Perspective on Neolithisation, Oxbow Books: 161-175.

Sierra, A., Bréhard, S., Montes, L., Utrilla, P., Saña, M. (2019). Sheep exploitation and husbandry in first farming societies: from production to consumption in Central Pyrenees in the Early Neolithic, Archaeol Anthropol Sci 11, 5813-5829.

Borrell, F., Alcalde, G., Clemente, I., Saña, M., Soler, J., Soler, N. (2018). Early Holocene Occupations at Ashash Rock Shelter (Zemmur, Western Sahara). Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 16, Issue 1: 83-103.

Tornero, C., Balasse, M., Ughetto-Monfrin, J., Molist, M., Saña, M. (2017). Evaluating seasonality of birth in gazelles in the Middle Euphrates Valley: confirming ethological assumptions in the Abu Hureyra model, In: Peter Rowley-Conwy, Dale Serjeantson, Paul Halstead (Edts): Economic Zooarchaeology. Studies in Hunting, Herding and Early Agriculture, Oxbow books, Oxford: 173-182. ISBN 978-1-78570-445-1.

Debono Spiteri, C., Gillis, R., Roffet-Salque, M., Castells Navarro, L., Guilaine, J., Manen, C., Muntoni, I., Saña, M., Urem-Kotsou, D., Whelton, H., Craig, O., Vigne, J-D., Evershed, R. (2016). Regional asynchronicity in dairy production and processing in early farming communities of the northern Mediterranean. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 29-113 (48): 13594-13599;

Tornero, C., Balasse, M., Molist, M., Saña, M. (2016). Seasonal reproductive patterns of early domestic sheep at Tell Halula (PPNB, Middle Euphrates Valley): Evidence from sequential oxygen isotope analyses of tooth enamel. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 6: 810-818.

Campus d'excel·lència internacional U A B