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Research Groningen Institute of Archaeology Research Research groups GIA

The transition from the Bronze Age to Iron Age in Greece: isotopic analysis of skeletal remains from Greece

Eleni Panagiotopoulou

Eleni Panagiotopoulou, MSc


Promotors: Prof. Sofia Voutsaki and Prof. Johannes van der Plicht

Co-promotor: Dr. Anastasia Papathanasiou

Period of employment: 2012-2016

Financed by: Faculty of Arts

Project description:

This project aims to investigate a period of crisis, social regression and increased population mobility in Greece, namely the Early Iron Age (1100 – 770 BC), by means of isotopic analysis of human remains in order to reconstruct dietary variation and migration patterns. The study focuses on burial sites located in Thessaly (central Greek mainland) because they exhibit significant variability in funerary practices as traditional customs co-exist with newly adopted practices. Therefore these sites allow us to test current reconstructions of social organization and population movements in this period.

Different theories have been suggested to explain this diversity and this project aims to address the following main questions.

1.     Can we reconstruct social stratification on the basis of mortuary record?

2.     Is there a correlation between social differentiation and diet?

3.     Can we identify family connections and kinship relations?

4.     Is it possible to detect the presence of newcomers and therefore reconstruct mobility or migration patterns?

These questions are crucial: the Early Iron Age in Greek mainland is a period of disruption, which sees the beginnings of important social developments towards the formation of the ancient Greek city-states.

The first goal of my project is the diet reconstruction of these populations by stable carbon, nitrogen and sulphur isotopic analysis of human bone collagen. Dietary variation between communities, burial clusters, ages, sexes and status groups could provide evidence of social differentiation in EIA society. The second goal is to identify newcomers within the members of the community, reconstruct population movements, and outline possible migration practices by the strontium isotopic analysis of human tooth enamel. The final objective of my doctoral research is the relation between mortuary variability (use of different tombs types and mortuary practices), social organization, dietary variation and provenance of the burial groups in four Early Iron Age communities in central Greece.

Last modified:23 July 2018 1.29 p.m.