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Research Groningen Institute of Archaeology Research Research groups GIA

Mortuary Differentiation and Social Structure in the Middle Helladic Argolid, 2000-1500 B.C.

Eleni Milka

E-mail: e.milka

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. P.A.J. Attema and Dr. S. Voutsaki

Period of employment: 1 November 2003- 31 October 2007

Financed by: NWO

Project Description:

The PhD thesis is part of a wider project about social, political and cultural changes that took place in the Argolid, southern Greece, during the Middle Helladic period and the transition to Late Helladic, ca. 2000-1500 B.C.

The aims of the PhD research are:

  • to detect and interpret variation between age, gender, status and burial/kin groups.
  • to reconstruct and explain processes of social, political and cultural change which Middle Helladic communities underwent during the period.
  • to understand the funerary ideology of Middle Helladic people.

These aims are achieved with a detailed analysis of all aspects of the mortuary data: the location, size and type of graves and their association with the space of the living; the quality, quantity and type of funerary offerings; the traces of ritual. The emphasis is placed on the presence/ absence of specific features as well as their correlation or mutual exclusion. Special attention is given to the relation between houses, habitation floors and graves in order to detect 'households' and possible kin groups. The offerings are examined in terms of presence/ absence, quantity and diversity in order to understand their use in social strategies. An attempt is also made to understand their significance by studying their position inside the grave, their preservation and patterns of breakage, as well as the associations between the various offerings.

At a second stage, the archaeological data are integrated with the results of the anthropological and biomolecular analyses. The integration of the archaeological information concerning treatment at death and the anthropological information about each individual skeleton will help us interpret variation across Middle Helladic communities. In addition, the aDNA results will be used to test our working hypothesis: that the spatially more or less demarcated burial groups attested in most Middle Helladic cemeteries represent kinship groups.

The analysis is focused on the large cemeteries of the region: Lerna, Argos (Aspis, Argos "tumuli") and Asine (intramural cemetery, Barbouna, East Cemetery). This comparative analysis allows us to observe differences between intramural and extramural cemeteries, and between extended cemeteries and tumuli. The analysis also allows us to detect variation between the main sites of the region.

Mortuary differentiation is therefore used as a tool to reconstruct the social structure, political organisation and cultural orientation of the communities of the Middle Helladic Argolid, and to understand the causes of their transformation.

Last modified:21 November 2018 12.45 p.m.