"Since Heinrich Schliemann excavated the famous shaft graves at Mycenae and identified the individuals as members of Agamemnon’s royal family, archaeologists have tried to understand the social structures which materialised in the collective graves of Mycenaean Greece. Whereas today’s understanding of family ties goes well beyond biological relatedness (e.g. patchwork families), prehistoric individuals buried together and their belonging are still predominantly explained by biological models – also due to the inability to trace past biological relatedness. But now the necessary methods have been developed and we will apply them to the extraordinary archaeological richness of Mycenaean Greece with its many collective graves which will serve as a paradigmatic case study for unravelling prehistoric social complexity beyond elites. MySocialBeIng will produce and integrate comprehensive archaeological, anthropological, genetic and isotopic analyses for all individuals buried together in selected collective graves (chamber, tholos) in order to decipher the criteria for their selection and social belonging out of the dialectic interplay of biological relatedness and social practices (gender, mobility, nutrition, burial, material culture). This has only recently become possible with 1) the development of bioinformatics tools to model biological relationships, 2) single-stranded DNA library production for numerous individuals, 3) innovative pedigree-based Bayesian modelling of 14C dates and 4) novel datasets of bioavailable strontium in Greece. The results will have a major impact on Mycenaean archaeology and on archaeology as a discipline by establishing a ground-breaking new approach to the study of past social relations. Moreover they will be relevant for the social sciences in general as well as for society, allowing us to fully understand the complexity of social belonging in the human past and thus helping to overcome the 19th-century “biological bias"" of belonging."
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