The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Mapping the Spatial Distribution of the Mortuary Remains at Neolithic Alepotrypa Cave, Greece


1Ephorate of Paleoanthropology and Speleology of Southern Greece, Ministry of Culture, 2Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University

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Neolithic Greece is characterized by significant variability in mortuary expression. Burial practices include primary single and multiple burials, secondary deposits in ossuaries, cremations, and various ritualistic processes. Apart from formal burial practices, Neolithic sites also contain scattered bone. While scattered bone is rarely studied, understanding its spatial order can inform us of the overall mortuary context, and the patterning of the secondary mortuary processing.

This work focuses on the Neolithic site of Alepotrypa Cave in southern Greece, in which all forms of funerary expression have been observed, in order to study prehistoric social relationships through the spatial distribution of mortuary expressions. In an effort to map the spatial distribution of the human osteological remains, the overall mortuary context of the cave was reassessed and scattered bone was restudied in conjunction with primary and secondary burials. All burial forms, with the associated grave goods, were identified within the context of a detailed map of Alepotrypa Cave, which was produced using GIS, with all human skeletal remains plotted and spatially situated within this system. The elements in scattered bone and their spatial distribution where compared against the respective ones from primary and secondary burial locations in order to determine if they are the byproducts of secondary burial processing or if their position is the result of a deliberate act of remembrance.

This research was partly funded by a grant from INSTAP and the Wiener Laboratory of ASCSA

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