Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


15 March 2010

Mycenae revisited part 2. Exploring the local versus non-local geographical origin of the individuals from Grave Circle A: Evidence from Strontium Isotope Ratio (87Sr/86Sr) Analysis

Argyro Nafplioti The Annual of the British School at Athens 104 (2009) [February 2010]: 279-291.


Strontium isotope ratio (87Sr/86Sr) analysis was applied to dental enamel samples from eleven adults from Grave Circle A at Mycenae in order to investigate their local versus non-local geographical origin. The results of this analysis suggest a relatively high intra-sample variation in 87Sr/86Sr values for the Grave Circle A Mycenaeans. Based on these results, only two individuals may be identified as locals at Mycenae. Of the other nine individuals, three may be identified as non-locals at this site. Because two of these are the only females from Grave Circle A tested for 87Sr/86Sr it is tentatively suggested that this finding may reflect marital patterns and the non-local origin of the females associated with high social ranking at Mycenae. However, owing to the paucity of data on the biologically available strontium at sites in the Aegean, it cannot be established with certainty whether the individuals identified as non-locals originated a few dozen or hundreds of kilometres away from Mycenae. Finally, conclusions on the local versus non-local origin of the remaining six individuals are tentative. Their ratios may equally to a non-local origin reflect a variegated diet that comprised ‘non-local’ amongst ‘local’ foodstuffs, which would not be unexpected for a Mycenaean palace economy of the ‘redistributive’ type.


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