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Economy of Non-Elite Mycenaeans

Project description

Beyond palaces: Looking at local Mycenaean economy

The Late Bronze Age era in Greece conjures images of powerful Mycenaean palace complexes and rich elite burials. The role of the non-elite population in these economies is only recently beginning to attain the focus it deserves. The EcoNoMy project will use isotope analyses from bone, food and environmental debris to formulate alternative narratives and revive discussion on non-palatial societies. Focusing on abounding evidence of Western Greek excavations that point to an advanced trade network with the Adriatic and the Balkans, EcoNoMy will introduce combined hi-tech methodologies that can be adapted to comprehensively reconstruct the economy of ancient regional communities.


What is it like to live like common people in a Kingdom? The archaeology of Greece in the Late Bronze Age is dominated by the glory of the Mycenaean palaces and the rich warrior burials. The role of the non-elites remains at large an enigma, although recent research suggests that their contribution to the economy was much more critical than previously thought. EcoNoMy will apply a novel combination of bulk and single compound carbon and nitrogen amino acid isotope analyses from bone collagen, methionine sulphur isotopes, food and environmental debris from calculus, and proteins adsorbed to pottery, in order to shift the attention from elite burials to non-elite lifeways and construct an alternative narrative of the political economy. With this unrivalled integration of markers of subsistence, EcoNoMy will create a dynamic discussion on regional political ecologies and political economies and overcome the current stall in research, created by previous methodological limitations that offer a unidirectional -palatial- view of society.
With a regional focus on Western Greece, where current excavations suggest the presence of a complex system of exchange with the Adriatic and the Balkans, EcoNoMy will be the first:
1. to offer this high-tech combination of methods to reconstruct for the first time the economic character of diverse, non-elite regions
2. to directly compare and contrast dietary evidence between individuals and their pots
3. to establish the applicability of this combined methodology in archaeology but also the relative merit of each method in relation to preservation and site particularities
The outcome will place the applicant at the forefront of isotope researchers and ground truth an integrated analysis, which can be applied to all archaeological populations, while proposing an alternative archaeological narration that comprehends the role of non-elites in sociocultural development.


Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
YO10 5DD York north yorkshire
United Kingdom

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Yorkshire and the Humber North Yorkshire York
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00