A collection of 1825 vertebrae belonging to 105 individuals from several Argaric Culture sites (Bronze Age, SE of Spain) were studied. Several pathologies that could provide information about activity patterns were analysed, including spondylolysis, compression fractures and Schmorl's nodes. Spondylolysis appears exclusively in men. Compression fractures seem to be more related to age (osteoporosis) and are more frequent in women, but without statistical significance. Schmorl's nodes affect a large number of the individuals studied, with a slight predominance in men; there are no differences by age. The results obtained were compared with the available archaeological and anthropological information, which shows a clear division of activities by sex in the Argaric population. The validity of studying these pathologies as activity patterns is discussed. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.