Part of the prize awarded to Sotiria Kiorpe at the third International Congress on Archaeological Sciences in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (ICAS-EMME 3), held in Nicosia, Cyprus in March 2022 was the opportunity to publish her paper in the distinguished Journal of Archaeological Science (Elsevier). We are happy to share that publication abstract and download link (available for a limited time) here.
This paper explores the character of the Petras human bone deposits in order to identify and reconstruct the original burial conditions and subsequently understand the social processes that resulted in the formation of a variable burial record. The Petras cemetery, located on the northeast coast of Crete, consists of 24 excavated House Tombs. The site was in use from Early Minoan IB (2900–2650 BCE) until Middle Minoan IIB (1850–1700 BCE), providing an excellent opportunity for the study of Prepalatial and Protopalatial mortuary practices. Drawing on existing research in social bioarchaeology, this study implements an integrated bioarchaeological approach involving the analysis of funerary taphonomy such as aspects of bone preservation, anatomical articulation and the position of skeletal remains. This way the given paper aims to reconstruct the funerary practices and their embedded meaning. Results suggest that all members of the community, were secondarily manipulated, while fully or partially decomposed, often inside the original burial location. A few intact primary burials present an exception which may attest to an ancestral population. The skeletal remains, even the ones placed inside funerary vessels, were reduced and re-arranged in commingled piles of bones in order to create room for new burials. Beyond practical considerations, the latter acts were also part of a ritual program, as the deposition of complete vases to fragmentary remains infer. Moreover, the Petras House Tombs attest to diachronic variability in group size, patterns of use and spatial arrangements of the human remains. Yet, these distinct choices were part of a single narrative which stressed the importance of a collective past, as the constant choice of the burial locale, the successive building upon old tombs and the commingled, unindividuated masses of bones indicate.