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TITLE Intra-group dynamics, glimpses of labor diversity and specialization, and evidence of incipient social stratification in Neolithic Crete: Reflections from the Aposelemis Burial Ground
AUTHOR Agelarakis Anagnostis
LANGUAGE Αγγλικά / English
PUBLISH DATE 08.04.2019
KEYWORDS Neolithic Aposelemis Burial Ground, Bioarchaeology, Skeletal Forensics, Dental Anthro­pology, Palaeopathology, Demographic Dynamics, Incipient Social Stratification
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This paper presents bioarchaeological data retrieved from the study of anthropological remains excavated from the formal Neolithic burial ground discovered in the area of the Aposelemis dam in central Crete.

Archaeological documentation of the Aposelemis site revealed that it was a well-structured burial ground, yielding ca. sixty archaeological features, with specific tomb forms and indications of burial rites. The human skeletal record preserved in dry form and representing primary burials was recovered from 47 burial contexts which involved either individual or multiple interments. The rest of the features involved hearths and pits with faunal remains and pottery deposits.

Laboratory analyses based on methodological approaches and research protocols of Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology revealed that the human skeletal population sample examined comprised 53 individuals of both biological sex subgroups and a range of age cohorts ranging from “Infancy I” (Birth to 6 years of age) to “Older or Senilis” (55+ years). Further, inspectional and mensurational studies of the dental and skeletal materials discerned a plethora of conditions relative to anatomic morphology and epigenetic variability, biological growth and physiology, aspects of dietary intake, facets of skeletomuscular system adaptations with a focus on ante mortem kinetics and trajectory forces of load stress, as well as manifestations of disease and trauma impact; the latter mainly caused by injuries afforded by external, non-pathological causative agents.

Consequently, this paper based on bioarchaeological data of the Neolithic Aposelemis anthropological remains offers glimpses and assessments of aspects of the human prehistoric condition as these relate to the population sample’s demographic and paleopathological profiles. Traces, markers, and changes permanently recorded on dental and skeletal surfaces reflect intra-group dynamics relevant to anatomic morphologic variability, inter- and intra-gender labor diversity suggesting specialization, as well as lines of evidence in support of incipient social stratification.