Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EPOCH GeoChem (Early POpulations in Cretan History: Investigating residential mobility in the eastern Mediterranean using isotope GeoChemistry)
Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2018-05-31
There is a general consensus over a purposive Neolithic colonization of Crete by newcomers from Anatolia, who, probably arriving in more than a single episode over several centuries, are considered the first settlers. Additional gene-flow into Crete from western Anatolia, the north-eastern and central Aegean, plus mobility within the island have been postulated for the succeeding periods, largely based on settlement, material culture and mortuary evidence for population increase, inter-regional contacts, changes and innovations during this period, and modern DNA data. Despite the volume of the above data, before EPOCH GeoChem a direct bioarchaeological perspective through analysis of the humans themselves was absent.
EPOCH GeoChem used for the first time isotopic analyses of multiple elements (strontium, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and sulphur) of the same archaeological human remains from nine archaeological skeletal sites, including the earliest yet excavated collection from Crete, to determine geographical origins and diet for the respective people. These data were then used as proxies to identify different, new populations, and, along with the radiocarbon data, track and interpret in-context any residential mobility and migration. Intra-group variations on diet and geographical origin by sex, age, kinship or other subgroup affiliation were further explored to gain a nuanced insight into the lifeways and social organisation of these people. Radiocarbon dating provided a clear chronological framework to the research.
Analytical work in relation to EPOCH GeoChem, once completed, will have generated four datasets of isotope ratio values of carbon and nitrogen (234), strontium (162), oxygen (162) and sulphur (40) isotope ratio values, as well as 45 AMS radiocarbon determinations for all nine project skeletal collections. EPOCH GeoChem data are the first ever multiple isotope ratio data from Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Crete. They advance the state of the art and give the first direct evidence for: a) mobility on the island of Crete during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, b) inter-site and intra-site variation in terms of dietary practices, and c) the practice of transhumance and seasonal movements of livestock in Bronze Age and Iron Age South Turkey.