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Mycenaean Secondary Burial Revisited: Legacy Data, Taphonomy, and the Process of Burial in Achaia, Greece.

The all-encompassing "secondary burial" categorization oversimplifies mortuary variation and prevents culturally specific distinctions of variable and complex mortuary practices (Weiss-Krejci 2005:155) as well as recognition of differences informed by age, gender, and kinship. In addition, other subsidiary problems, especially tomb reuse and the postmortem manipulation of human remains, make the study of secondary burial treatment particularly challenging. Equally confounding is the issue of legacy data in which past excavation and curation of human remains may fall short of current bioarchaeological standards. In this article, I aim to reconstruct "death histories" (per Geller 2012) in a case study of Late Bronze Age (Mycenaean) tombs. Death histories include the initial burial actions while also examining the living's interaction with the deceased (Geller 2012:116-117). Regardless of whether a tomb was forgotten or purposefully disused, the large number of Mycenaean tombs containing "secondary" deposits suggests that a multi-stage burial program was often practiced; however, the challenge lies in differentiating between tomb reuse, that is, the disturbance of human remains, and the intentional collection and redeposition of human remains. Therefore, I evaluate the terminology, formation processes, and mortuary practices of Mycenaean burial by applying a bioarchaeological approach to a sample of legacy data.

Grave goods and tomb architecture at well-known palatial sites such as Mycenae (Fig. 1) during the Mycenaean period (Table 1) have attracted considerable attention through the decades. Studies of social status (e.g., Voutsaki 1995,1999), warrior burials (e.g., Davis and Stacker 2016; Giannopoulos 2008), and speculations about religious ideology such as ancestor worship and a "cult of the dead" (e.g., Gallou 2005) dominate much of Mycenaean research. While recent scholarship has greatly enlightened our understanding of the complexity of mortuary rituals (Boyd 2002, 2014, 2015, 2016a, 2016b; Galanakis 2016), tomb reuse and secondary burial have rarely been evaluated with bioarchaeological methods (though see Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016). To date, there has been little attempt to define and detect "secondary burial" explicitly using all possible mortuary data, especially human remains. Therefore, it is unclear if archaeologists' traditional labels of primary or secondary burial represent ancient behavior or modern typological simplifications.

In the Mycenaean context, tomb reuse and postdepositional burial practices often produce commingled, fragmented, poorly preserved, or even partially burned (Galanakis 2016) assemblages of human remains and associated artifacts (see Boyd 2014 for discussion of the material culture). Burial deposits of human remains range from single primary burials to piles and pits with commingled, disarticulated bones (Fig. 2). Traditionally, Greek archaeologists have categorized articulated burials as primary burials and, in the absence of articulation, have labeled the piles and pits with bones as "secondary" burials (e.g., Cavanagh and Mee 1998). In addition, the artifact assemblages of most tombs suggest contemporaneous episodes of tomb reuse (although later reuse after a period of disuse is also attested; see Aktypi et al. forthcoming), yet it is often impossible to date each burial deposit confidently via associated artifacts or know for certain if a tomb with only primary or secondary deposits represents a completed burial program or abandonment. The long history of excavating Mycenaean tombs began before bioarchaeologists aided in recovery of human remains. Accordingly, much excavated skeletal material, or "legacy data," has gone unstudied. Despite the challenges, a bioarchaeological approach that brings together archaeological (contextual) information and osteological analyses in order to evaluate the commingled bone assemblages can overcome these issues. Depending on the quality of documentation, legacy data can contribute to these efforts.

In order to clarify Mycenaean burial practices, I focus on reconstructing the actions that have created the final burial deposit. Analysis of fragmentation patterns, element survival percentages, cut marks, intact skeletal articulations, and placement of human remains within the tomb is vital for evaluating how both interment practices and taphonomic processes have affected burial forms. While others have applied interdisciplinary, taphonomically focused methods on other contexts (e.g., Geber et al. 2017; Haddow and Knusel 2017), Mycenaean scholarship has yet to adopt such a perspective. Here I apply a similar methodology in order to move beyond the limitations of old data, poor preservation, and unclear categorization to make inferences about burial processes and their associated mortuary practices.

Issues within Mycenaean Mortuary Archaeology

A murky terminology: Definitional issues

Bioarchaeologists have used the term "secondary burial" to indicate an initial burial (or aboveground storage) followed by a subsequent reburial (e.g., Haddow and Knusel 2017:65). However, the term "secondary burial" is often used in Mycenaean studies to describe any burial deposit that lacks skeletal articulation. For example, some Mycenaean tombs contain two very different kinds of deposits: a small pit dug into the tomb floor with disarticulated bones (often long bones and crania), and a pile of bones on the tomb floor, abutting the tomb wall (Fig. 2). Archaeologists label both of these deposits "secondary burials" due to the disarticulation of the remains, but this label obscures key differences of intentional action with implications for ritual performance and social memory (Geller 2012; Haddow and Knusel 2017; Novotny 2013), as people chose to retain and rebury these bones often out of sight. In contrast, a pile of disarticulated bones is more problematic to interpret because the accumulated bone may be the result of natural taphonomic damage (such as bioturbation) or intentional (purposeful, anthropogenic) action. Thus, unevaluated classification prevents further analysis and interpretation. In order to move forward, clear and consistent mortuary definitions as well as thorough bioarchaeological study are essential.

Before making inferences about past funerary behavior, definitions and a standard lexicon for the different burial forms are necessary (Knusel and Robb 2016). Cavanagh (1978:171) states that secondary burials have been identified as "disturbed" burials (i.e., not in situ) and proposes that "a second ceremony was meant to be celebrated after each burial: a second burial." Despite statistics for the frequency of disturbed burials at the few well-published sites, Cavanagh (1978:171-172) acknowledges that his hypothesis that a second burial custom was intended for all deceased persons must be tested with modern excavation methods and osteological analyses. Although Cavanagh specifically dealt with secondary burial practices by highlighting its variation and frequency within a sample of Mycenaean sites, incorporating modern bioarchaeological research will test Cavanagh's terminology. In this study, a burial deposit is defined as a context of intentionally placed human remains whether placed in a pit with soil or exposed on a tomb floor (adapted from Duday 2009:14 and Knusel and Robb 2016:Table 1). This definition allows a deposit to be described neutrally. Only after bioarchaeological and archaeological information has been combined will a deposit be interpreted as a primary or secondary burial. A primary burial is defined here as a singular action in which a corpse is deposited and left to decompose in the original location without further cultural manipulation (Duday 2009:14; Knusel 2014:46; Knusel and Robb 2016:657). A primary burial is recognized in the field by the presence of a skeleton "in a state of anatomical integrity" (Duday 2009:14).

In contrast, a "disturbed burial" or "reduction of the corpse" is defined by Duday (2006:47, 2009:14, 72-73) and Knusel (2014) as a body that has been manipulated after full or partial decomposition for the purpose of later burial in a tomb. For some, the interpretive emphasis of secondary burial is the notion of "pre-planning" (Duday 2009:89) or intentionality (Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016:783; Roksandic 2002:100), while others state that it is simply a burial that "moved from its original location to another one" (Knusel 2014:50). I draw upon a combination of these defining features. Secondary burial is defined here as the collection and redeposition (whether under soil or careful placement on the tomb floor) of skeletal elements in a location different from the original place of decomposition. Although this definition appears straightforward, identifying a secondary burial is challenging. Criteria include any or all of the following: disarticulation, selection of certain elements, reburial underground, and lack of small/fragile elements (Duday 2009:89-91; Roksandic 2002). While all criteria are useful, they may not be relevant (i.e., universal) given the cultural and environmental contexts. Indeed, Duday (2009:91) states that the crucial characteristic (rather than one specific trait) of secondary burials is that they are "extremely heterogeneous"--a pattern that appears strange in comparison to the other burial deposits. Thus, an integrated study of the archaeological context and human remains from a sample of burial deposits will highlight mortuary patterns and anomalies so that these general terms can be adapted specifically to the Mycenaean mortuary practices.

Lack of bioarchaeological analyses

While many archaeologists may be aware of the significant work of J. Lawrence Angel (1944a, 1944b, 1945, 1946, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1975, 1982; Bisel and Angel 1985), skeletal studies historically have been neglected in Greek archaeology. Fortunately, researchers have undertaken important work in the last decade (e.g., Listen 2007; Papathanasiouet et al. 2015; Rife et al. 2007; Schepartz et al. 2009; Voutsaki and Valamoti 2013; Wright et al. 2008). Despite this increase, the focus within Greek bioarchaeology is often on diet reconstruction, paleopathology, or migration patterns. Few researchers have used a bioarchaeological framework to evaluate Greek mortuary practices, notable exceptions notwithstanding (e.g., Moutafi 2015, 2016), and even fewer focus on Mycenaean skeletal remains (e.g., Iezzi 2015; Moutafi 2015; Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016; Papathanasiou et al. 2012) and secondary burials (e.g., Lagia et al. 2016; Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016; Papathanasiou 2009; Triantaphyllou 2017). In summary, recent scholarship rarely aims to clarify secondary burial terminology and associated mortuary practices in chamber tombs and tholoi using bioarchaeological methods applied to legacy data.

In the case of the Mycenaean world, many tombs contain commingled, fragmented, and poorly preserved human remains, which further complicate analysis. Unevaluated labeling of secondary burials in Mycenaean research can imply human actions in cases where natural processes are at work. Few studies have attempted to assess taphonomic alteration of these deposits. Doing so at the beginning of a bioarchaeological study will help distinguish environmental factors from human-induced actions, leading to a more accurate interpretation of a burial deposit.

Challenges of legacy data

In this study, I use legacy data from excavations between 1989 and 2005 at the sites of Chalandritsa, Petroto, and Portes by representatives of the Directorate of Achaia Antiquities, headquartered in Patras (Fig. 1). The excavations were supervised by archaeologists and executed by local workers. A great deal of this work, however, occurred during a construction boom and resulted in only short preliminary publications. Additionally, the excavations did not include the expertise of specialists, such as bioarchaeologists and micromorphologists, and often without detailed recording of the human remains or soil conditions/sediment changes.

Despite these drawbacks, legacy data have certain advantages. For instance, a large amount of material and raw data await in-depth study. Indeed, this project drew on a range of Mycenaean mortuary data due to the abundance of human remains collected. Archaeologists and bioarchaeologists can make an analysis of legacy data possible by extracting crucial contextual information from the excavation archive--the daily logbooks, drawings, and photos. Therefore, legacy data, when they combine quantity with (relative) quality, can possess considerable unrealized archaeological value.

In light of these issues, I test a hypothesis regarding the commingled, disarticulated human remains found in a sample of Mycenaean tombs, specifically Cavanagh's hypothesis that Mycenaean human remains were subject to a "secondary burial" as part of the reuse cycle of the tomb. For this hypothesis, I expect that the disarticulated bones in piles and pits will exhibit no selection of elements but will have some loss of small, fragile elements due to the moving of bones from primary to secondary burial locations (Table 2). The alternative hypothesis is that the deposits are not all related to tomb reuse; rather, they are due to a secondary burial custom. Thus, these deposits will exhibit a selection of well-preserved elements or will be the only deposit in the tomb attesting to a return not for another internment but for secondary mortuary practices. These deposits are the result of deliberate secondary actions. Pinpointing distinctions among the diversity of Mycenaean burial deposits is vital for reconstructing and theorizing about the social implications and ideology surrounding mortuary practices.

Materials: Mycenaean Cemeteries of Achaia

The region of Achaia is located in the northwest corner of the Peloponnese peninsula in the southern Greek mainland (Fig. 1). Achaia is a peripheral area of the Mycenaean world, contrasting with the Argolid and its grand citadels and monumental tombs, although Arena (2015) and van den Berg (2011) recently have reevaluated this view. Achaia during the end of the Mycenaean period also lacks evidence for destructions and major discontinuity, leading scholars to hypothesize that the region experienced a population increase (Papadopoulos 1979:175-176) or at least population stabilization (Giannopoulos 2008). Burial practices in Achaia do not merely imitate those found in the core regions. Rather, the region possesses distinctive mortuary traditions; for instance, tombs are smaller and more rudimentary, and the burial practices and forms show less variation when compared to other regions (Papadopoulos 1979).

The sample

For the present study, I use material from three Achaian sites (see Table 3). Chalandritsa and Petroto are located in the foothills a few miles outside of the modern city of Patras, and the site of Portes is farther southwest in the mountains (Fig. 1).

This sample includes only intact, non-looted deposits. We may never know for certain if the last burial deposit represents a tomb's completed life cycle. Yet, all tombs included in this sample had dry-stone closed doorways, indicating deliberate closure with no intention of additional interment. Additionally, the sample does not include any deposit of human remains that were interpreted by excavator as trampled (scattered, highly fragmented human remains). All tombs date to the Mycenaean period. The sample is attractive because it is an excellent representation of the mortuary data from the Mycenaean period in the region of Achaia. It includes Mycenaean primary burials and deposits labeled "secondary burials" from three sites with two tomb types: chamber tombs and tholoi (Table 3). The comparison of primary burials to disarticulated bone deposits in the same tomb allows control for preservation and excavation bias, since the bones were subject to the same environment and the same collection methods.

The tholos tomb of Petroto

Petroto is situated on the western side of the oblong Mygdalia hill atop which sits a Mycenaean settlement (Morgan 2010:60; Papazoglou-Manioudaki 2008). The single tholos tomb was discovered when partially damaged by a bulldozer in 1989. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Michalis Petropoulos systematically excavated the tomb. It consisted of a round subterranean chamber constructed of crudely cut limestone blocks arranged to form a beehive-shaped tomb (Petropoulos 1989). The use of the tomb began during the early Mycenaean period (LH IIA), and it was reused during the later Mycenaean periods (Jones et al. 2018; Papazoglou-Manioudaki 2003, 2011). The excavators identified nine cultural levels containing artifacts as well as human and animal remains. The tomb contains multiple burial levels, but the stratigraphy is sequential-each layer was deposited and then covered by a layer of fill so that previous levels were not disturbed by subsequent activity (see Jones et al. [2018] for detailed discussion of the tomb levels). In this study, I only consider Level 3 and Level 6. Level 3 is the final burial in the tomb, and Levels 1 and 2 contained only stones and soil from the collapsed tomb roof. On approximately 40 cm of fill, Level 3 occurred at a depth of 2.15 m below datum and interred within was a single primary burial. In contrast, Level 6 contained a commingled bone pile unearthed at a depth of 2.57 m below datum. For this study I chose these levels because they represent typical Mycenaean burials forms: a primary burial deposit and a pile of bones previously labeled as a secondary burial (Table 3).

The chamber tomb cemetery of Chalandritsa

The site at Chalandritsa consists of a settlement and cemetery located on the edge of the mountainous central region of Achaia. The settlement is well preserved and was inhabited throughout the Mycenaean period, primarily during LH IIIA-C (approximately 1390-1065 B.C.; Kolonas 2009:13). The cemetery comprises 44 known chamber tombs cut into the soft rock of the hillsides and is contemporary with the adjacent settlement (Kolonas 2009:13). The tombs date to every phase from LH IIB to LH IIIC (Aktypi 2017; Mountjoy 1999:401), although a few tombs and their entry passages (dromoi) contain later Geometric period burials (ca. 900-700 B.C.; Aktypi 2014). Papadopoulos (1979:29) describes the site as "an extensive Mycenaean necropolis." Some tombs were excavated in 1928-1930, and archaeologists undertook more recent excavations in 1989,1991 and 1995 (Stavropoulou-Gatsi 1990,1991,1993,1994,1995; Stavropoulou-Gatsi and Petropoulos 1989). Remains found during these later excavations are well documented. This study uses only chamber tombs 16 and 19 (Table 3) because they possess pit deposits of disarticulated human remains previously labeled as "secondary burials."

The cemetery of Portes

The site of Portes is located in the southwest of Achaia at the southern base of Mount Skollis and near the border of the neighboring region of Elis. East of the unexcavated settlement, the cemetery occupies a low hill with tombs positioned at the apex and others cut into the surrounding slopes (Kolonas 1998:123; Kolonas and Moschos 1999:230). The site has a long period of use, spanning most of the Mycenaean era (LH I-IIIC; Kolonas 2009:34-35). The cemetery is unique because of its extensive use and its range of burial types, including chamber tombs, cists, pits and even tumuli, and its examples of rich intact tombs (Kolonas 2009:33). Most of the interments occurred in rock-cut chamber tombs (Kolonas 2009:35). Thirty chamber tombs cover the hill; many are located in clusters next to the tumuli and the site's two tholoi (Kolonas 2009:34-35). In this study, I chose to include only chamber tombs 5 and 12. These tombs possess multiple deposits, such as pits with articulated and disarticulated human remains and piles of bones similar to Level 6 from Petroto (Table 3).

Methods: Identifying Secondary Burials

Both bioarchaeology (per Buikstra and Beck 2006:xvii) and archaeothanatology (Boulestin and Duday 2006) emphasize an "integrative analysis" that must include an analysis of human remains, archaeological context, and social theory (Baker and Agarwal 2017:1). More specifically, studies of secondary burial identify two main themes: manipulation of the body and the timing of that manipulation (Andrews and Bello 2006:17). Approaching multistage burials via legacy data to document human involvement in burial deposits requires several methods (Beckett and Robb 2006:69-70; Knusel and Robb 2016). In addition, the variable histories and curation of legacy data may bias some bioarchaeological methods (see Penny-Mason's 2017 article in which he discusses site stratigraphy using legacy data); however, as long as the human remains were collected and recorded from all burial contexts in a tomb and stored appropriately, the data should still be considered valuable for research. To target cultural action, it is also vital that natural taphonomic damage is evaluated before interpreting burial practices (Knusel and Robb 2016; Roksandic 2002:100). Therefore, osteological methods should evaluate the cultural and environmental effects on Mycenaean assemblages. In addition, the archaeological context is documented with regard to the available space for burials and visibility of the bones within the tomb.

Bioarchaeological methods

In this study, I use multiple methods that assess the manipulation of human remains and timing after death of the manipulation (see Geller 2012; Haddow and Knusel 2017). The first two methods, bone fragmentation and element survival, attempt to differentiate taphonomic damage and human involvement in the burial deposits by evaluating bone preservation. Then, I aim to reconstruct the timing of the disarticulation using the subsequent methods: the presence of cut marks and intact skeletal articulations in the excavation drawings or photos.


Fragmentation of human remains is a common feature in burials with poor preservation or in contexts that have undergone postmortem manipulation. The causes for bone fragmentation involve natural taphonomic or anthropogenic alteration. This study uses the term "fragments" to indicate pieces of bone, and uses the term "elements" to denote complete bones. Bones are complete when 75% or greater is present (Buikstra and Ubelaker 1994:6-8). I used only fragments identifiable by element and side of the body here. Unidentified bone fragments comprised only a minority of the total assemblage (<25%); most (>75%) of the fragments were small (<6 cm) in length.

The form and composition of bone influences the patterns of its fragmentation. Lyman (1984:279) emphasizes that bone density varies; more robust bone is less likely to fragment, so the survival of bone is related to its durability. Less dense bones are more likely to be absent or fragmented in contexts with post-depositional damage (Marean 1991:678). Bones affected primarily by natural taphonomic postmortem fragmentation will produce an assemblage consisting primarily of complete long bone shafts with broken or few epiphyses (Villa and Mahieu 1991:40-43; Willey et al. 1997). On the contrary, if the fragmentation occurs primarily in the dense shaft portion of the bone, creating fragmented shaft splinters and few intact shaft diameters, then human-induced causes, rather than natural taphonomic processes, can be explored (Villa and Mahieu 1991:40-43; Willey et al. 1997).

Evidence for purposeful breakage of human bone is less common and should be interpreted cautiously. Intentional bone breakage occurring on perimortem (green) bone can be linked to the manipulation of human remains as part of mortuary practices (Robb et al. 2015). Researchers emphasize factors such as eroded long bone cortices, fracture angles and outlines, and breadth versus length ratios of bone fragments for distinguishing between human-induced and natural taphonomic fragmentation (Villa and Mahieu 1991; Wieberg and Wescott 2008).

To evaluate whether the fragmentation in the sample was natural taphonomic or human-induced, two methods are used here. The first method assesses the amount of breakage in a bone assemblage measured by the proportion of complete or broken elements, defined as "extent of fragmentation" by Lyman (1994: 333) and termed here "bone completeness" (per Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016:782-783). The extent of fragmentation was calculated by recording the percentage of preserved bone zones (per Knusel and Outram 2004) for each element or fragment, then calculating a modal value for each burial deposit (cf. Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016:783). The second method assesses the "intensity of the fragmentation," also defined by Lyman (1994:333-334) as the size of fragmented bones. I recorded fragment length in increments of 10 mm with a maximum of 200 mm. By measuring the length of femoral diaphyses (Lyman 1994:334-335; Villa and Mahieu 1991:43-45) and calculating an average for each deposit, I estimated the amount of fragmentation. I selected femora for this analysis due to their high representation in the data set and their overall robusticity. Both bone completeness and intensity of fragmentation are scaled according to the ranges outlined in Table 2 (adapted from Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016:Table 1). Figure 3 shows an example of bone completeness.

Element survival

Element survival percentages (or Bone Representation Index as termed by Andrews and Bello [2006]) are vital for reconstructing human action in multistage burials because the manipulation of the human remains can often produce assemblages with distinctly high or low percentages of certain bone elements (Bello et al. 2002). In this article, I use the term "element survival," since it is more widespread in taphonomic research (Lyman 1994:235-239). For example, the presence of distal phalanges is particularly important for identifying primary burials (Bello et al. 2002). I used survival percentages of all elements to identify preservation biases and to evaluate the degree of human manipulation of the pile and pit burials (cf. Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016). In order to calculate the most accurate minimum number of elements (MNE; Marean et al. 2001) and subsequent minimum number of individuals (MNI; White 1953) for a commingled and fragmented assemblage, I used the zonation method (Knusel and Outram 2004). MNE was calculated based on the most present element, and MNI was calculated using the most present element based on side of the body in respect to age, sex, and robusticity when possible.

Survival percentages take these two calculations (MNI and MNE) to produce a percentage of how likely it is that an element was preserved in a given context. Using Brain's (1969) formula (percentage of element survival = (MNE/MNI) x 100) I calculated the survival percentages of elements. For this study, I counted parts of the skeleton with multiple elements as present if they could be sided. Thus, if only the right navicular could be identified from a primary burial with an MNI of one, then the tarsals would be recorded as 7% present since it was one element out of a possible 14. Categories of element survival (ranging from good to poor) used in this study are outlined in Table 2 (adapted from Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016:Table 1).

Element survival of the primary burials will show which elements naturally do not survive postdepositional processes and excavation biases. Comparing the element survival of primary burials to secondary deposits will show which elements are most likely to be missing in cases only affected by natural taphonomic damage (primary burials) and which elements may be missing in cases where human action was involved (secondary deposits). This analysis will evaluate if the secondary deposits created by Mycenaean people included specific element selection. For example, the secondary deposit Grave 10 at Ayios Vasilios possessed good element survival for various bones including small, fragile hand/foot bones, but was missing some large, robust leg bones suggesting that element selection had taken place (Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016:788).

Cut marks

The study of cut marks is typically a method employed by zooarchaeologists for evaluating butchering/food-processing practices (Lyman 1994:294-97). In mortuary contexts, cut marks may signal a type of disarticulation linked to defleshing (Knusel and Outram 2006; Robb et al. 2015). I examined each bone fragment and element for the presence or absence of cut marks. Thus far there has not been any explicit evaluation of cut marks in Mycenaean reused tombs, so both positive and negative evidence is useful for understanding the timing and process of burial manipulation.

Skeletal articulations

Finally, the timing of the postmortem manipulation in Mycenaean tombs is not well studied. One of the primary aims of archaeothanatology is reconstructing original corpse placement. Duday's (2009:26-27) timing of disarticulations is used, especially the early disarticulation of the "labile" joints of the hands and feet versus the later disarticulation of "persistent" joints like the lumbar vertebrae and sacrum-vertebral connections. I examined plan drawings and photos from excavations for presence and absence of skeletal articulations.

Contextual Analysis

Archival information about excavations, such as tomb plans and photographs, can contextualize osteological data. Evaluating the amount of free space within the tomb and the visibility of the human remains is vital for reconstructing the diverse burial processes. For example, pushed piles of bones have often been explained as practical cleaning actions to create space for future burials, although tombs that possess piles of bones but no primary burial may suggest another, more ritually focused, activity (Cavanagh 1978:171). Mycenaean people may have reopened a monumental tomb for other mortuary-related practices (Cavanagh and Mee 1998:76; Voutsaki 1993). In addition, the piles of bones are visible on the tomb floor to those who reentered for subsequent rituals. In contrast, human remains interred in pits, then covered with soil or stone slabs, may be virtually invisible on the tomb floor. Postmortem manipulation of human remains has been found in other eastern Mediterranean regions such as the Neolithic site of Catalhoyiik, Turkey, where diverse mortuary practices, such as skull removal and bone curation, are explored by Haddow and Knusel (2017:65-66) as socially complex connections in ancestor formation or for use as territorial claims.

It is also possible that human remains from the same individual were moved around inside the tomb and could thus be found in multiple deposits. Bone refitting of fragments after sorting by element and age group (infant, juvenile, adult) identified such dispersal. Intrinsic bone characteristics such as morphology and size within the same tomb facilitated this effort.



Tholos Level 3

Level 3 in Petroto (Fig. 4) is a single primary deposit in a crudely constructed cist grave containing 75 human bone fragments from 58 elements. I categorized one completeness and fragmentation size as good. The right femur is represented only by the shaft and proximal end. However, the stark contrast of color between the surfaces of the diaphysis and the break indicates that the damage is postmortem and recent, likely a result of the circumstances of the tomb's discovery. Element survival was 100% for all long bones (except fibulae which was 50%), the cranium, mandible, scapula, ilium, and sacrum, while the percentage of survival for the smaller or more fragile elements is much lower (Fig. 4, bottom). I categorized element survival as good. Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as good. I observed no cut marks.

Intact articulations evident on the plan drawing and in the excavation photographs attest to the primary nature and tightly flexed position of the body in this burial. The body was the final deposit in this long-use tomb (Jones et al. 2018).

Tholos Level 6

The bone pile in Level 6 (Fig. 5) is located along the east wall of the tomb. The assemblage contained 824 human bone fragments comprising 616 elements with an MNI of 15. I categorized bone completeness and fragment length as moderate-poor. The majority of the breakage occurred at the metaphyses, demonstrating that fragmentation of the assemblage is consistent with natural taphonomic damage. Element survival results (Fig. 5) indicate only two elements have a survival rate above 50%: the crania and femora. The majority of other elements have an element survival range between 25 and 50%. Despite the lower overall element survival percentages, the pile contained elements not found in the primary burial of Level 3, such as sterna and proximal foot phalanges. Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as moderate-poor. I did not observe any cut marks.

The plan drawing and excavation photos show a partly intact vertebral column (circled), located in the south section of the bone pile (Fig. 5, top left), with approximately nine vertebrae and four to five ribs in articulation. According to Duday (2009:27), the lumbar vertebrae possess strong tendons and ligaments due to their weight-bearing function, so these take the longest to decompose. Because this articulation is more persistent than others, manipulation of this burial took place at a time when the body was nearly, though not completely, skeletonized. The drawing depicts a large bone pile along the tomb wall with an adjacent empty tomb floor. Despite the available space, there is no nearby primary burial.


Chamber tomb 16

Burial I is a pit along the southeast wall of the chamber measuring approximately 150 cm by 75 cm (Fig. 6, top left). Archaeologists excavated the pit in two levels. I treated it as a single deposit here because no significant difference between the levels could be discerned during analysis. The pit contained 362 human bone fragments making up 199 elements with an MNI of 12. I categorized bone completeness and fragment length as moderate-poor. Again, the majority of the breakage occurred at the metaphyses, demonstrating that fragmentation of the assemblage is consistent with natural taphonomic damage. I categorized element survival percentages as good-moderate (>50%) for crania, mandible, humerus, and femur, while the scapula, ulna, radius and tibia were between 25 and 50%. Small and fragile bones, such as sterna and hand/foot bones, were also present, albeit with percentages below 25% (Fig. 6, bottom). Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as moderate-poor. I did not observe any cut marks.

The excavation plan and photo of the tomb (Fig. 6, top) depict disorganized and fragmented human remains with a few complete ceramic jars inside the pit. The drawing does not show any intact skeletal articulations. No articulated primary burial is located within the tomb.

Chamber tomb 19

This tomb contained one rectangular burial pit (Burial 1) and one ovoid burial pit (Burial 2) in the corners of the chamber (Fig. 7, top left). Both pits were filled with disarticulated bones similar in appearance those depicted in Figure 2. In addition, a long, rectangular central pit (labeled Burial 3 in Figure 7) and another small, ovoid pit at the entrance of the tomb were found completely empty during excavation.

Burial 1 is from the pit located in the south corner, which measures 40 cm by 60 cm. It contained 211 human bone fragments comprising 77 elements with an MNI of 13. I categorized bone completeness and fragment length as good-moderate. The majority of the breakage occurred at the metaphyses, demonstrating that fragmentation of the assemblage is consistent with natural taphonomic damage. The pit contains poor survival percentages (Fig. 7, bottom) of the cranium, mandible, teeth, sternum, lumbar vertebrae, and tarsals. However, it contains good survival percentages of the long bones, especially humeri, femora, and tibiae. Element survival was highly varied, categorized as good for long bones but poor for all other elements. Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as moderate-poor. I did not observe any cut marks.

Burial 2 is from pit located in the north corner (Fig. 7, top), which measures 50 cm by 40 cm. It contained 145 fragments from 68 elements with an MNI of six. I categorized bone completeness as goodmoderate. The only femur fragment was an intact diaphysis with broken epiphyseal ends. It exceeded the maximum recording measurement of 200 mm, thus I categorized fragment length as good. The breakage occurred at the metaphyses and is consistent with taphonomic damage. The element survival percentages are equally varied but the pattern differs from Burial 1 with poor percentages of long bones (<25%, except ulna at 40%) and good percentages (60% or above) of cranium, scapula, and sacrum (Fig. 7, bottom). Element survival varied, categorized as poor for long bones and good for non-long bones. Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as moderate-good. I did not observe any cut marks.

I found no refits of bone fragments between deposits from either pit within the tomb. There were no articulations in the excavation drawing and the tomb did not contain a primary burial. Additionally, the bones were found tightly packed into the subterranean pits, likely making them less visible than a bone pile on the tomb floor.

Portes (1)

Chamber tomb 5

Burial A is located in a slab-covered pit, which was located slightly north of the chamber's center. The pit was dug into the tomb floor and measured 75 cm by 175 cm. It contained a single primary burial with 108 human bone fragments making up 94 elements. I categorized bone completeness and fragment length as good. The femora displayed very little fragmentation, exceeding the maximum recording measurement of 200 mm. The primary burial has 100% survival for the cranium, mandible, long bones, vertebrae, ribs, os coxae, and patellae (Fig. 8, top). Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as good. I did not observe any cut marks.

Burial B is from a pit approximately 60 cm wide and 110 cm long, positioned along the western wall of the tomb (similar to the pits with tightly packed bones depicted in Fig. 2). The deposit contains 248 human bone fragments comprising 195 elements with an MNI of three. Bone completeness was good-moderate. The six femora displayed very little fragmentation, exceeding the maximum recording measurement of 200 mm. Thus, I categorized fragment length as good. Element survival was greater than 75% for the cranium, mandible, humerus, ulna, radius, femur, and tibia, and 50% or greater for all teeth, clavicle, scapula, ilium, ischium, sacrum, and fibula. The presence of small hand and foot bones and fragile bones such as the pubis, first rib, and sacrum is noteworthy (Fig. 8, top). Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as good-moderate. I did not observe any cut marks.

Burial C is a bone pile located along the south wall, similar in size and appearance to the pile of bones from Level 6 of Petroto (Fig. 5). The burial contains 681 human bone fragments making up 619 elements with an MNI of 15. Bone completeness was goodmoderate, and all femoral diaphyses were intact so fragmentation was categorized as good. The majority of the femoral breakage occurred at the metaphyses, consistent with natural taphonomic damage. A range of element survival was observed, with every element (except the sternum) represented to some extent (Fig. 8, top). Only the scapula and the humerus are above 75%, and the mandible, ulna, radius, femur, and tibia have element survival percentages between 50 and 75%. Most notable is the presence (albeit at 1%) of distal hand and foot phalanges. Overall, bone preservation for this deposit was categorized as good-moderate. I did not observe any cut marks. There were no skeletal articulations on the tomb drawing, and I found no refits of bone fragments between deposits within the tomb.

Chamber tomb 12

Burial A is a scatter of bones located in the east section of the chamber that contained 56 human bone fragments from 51 elements with an MNI of two. Bone completeness was good-moderate and the two femora displayed very little fragmentation, exceeding the maximum recording measurement of 200 mm. The scatter had only one element, the humerus, above the 50% survival rate (Fig. 8, bottom). The majority of elements had a 25-50% survival rate. Small and fragile elements, such as hand and foot bones, had a poor survival rate (<25%). Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as moderate. I did not observe any cut marks.

Burial B is a single primary burial found on the tomb floor along the back (south) wall. It consists of 111 human bone fragments from 87 elements. Bone completeness was good. Both femora exceeded the maximum recording measurement of 200 mm. This context has 100% survival percentages for many elements including the robust bones, such as the cranium, mandible, and all long bones, but also some more fragile bones, such as the clavicle, scapula, lumbar vertebrae, ribs, ischium, and sacrum (Fig. 8, bottom). Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as good. I did not observe any cut marks.

Burial C is a bone pile along the southwest wall of the chamber that contained 252 human bone fragments from 189 elements with an MNI of 7. I categorized bone completeness as good-moderate and fragmentation as good. The femora displayed very little fragmentation. All 12 femora had intact diaphyses and exceeded the maximum recording measurement of 200 mm. Survival rate of the cranium and tibia was 100% (Fig. 8, bottom), with 50-75% for the scapula, humerus, ulna, radius, femur, and fibula. The only elements in the 25-50% survival range were the mandible and ilium. Some small or fragile elements were present but exhibited poor (<25%) survival percentages. Overall, I categorized bone preservation for this deposit as good-moderate. I did not observe any cut marks. Similar to chamber tomb 5, no skeletal articulations were present in any deposit on the chamber tomb 12 drawing, and I did not find any no refits of bone fragments among burial deposits within the tomb.

Reconstructing the Burial Process

Multiple methods are crucial for unraveling complex mortuary deposits. I discuss results from each method (bone completeness, fragmentation, cut marks, articulations, and element survival) and compare the primary burials with the pit and pile deposits.

I categorized all primary burial deposits as good for fragment length. The fragment length, in combination with the site of the breakage (the majority of which was at the metaphyses), suggests that fragmentation of the assemblage was not purposeful but is consistent with natural taphonomic damage. The primary burial deposits display little postmortem damage. The results show that all primary burial deposits possessed good bone completeness.

Turning to the disarticulated deposits, the results show that bone completeness in the pit and pile deposits ranged from good to moderate-poor (see Fig. 8, top). Likewise, the fragmentation results show a similar range. The fragmentation data consistently suggest that bone damage occurred naturally and was not the result of purposeful, anthropogenic breakage. The greater extent and intensity of fragmentation within the pit and pile deposits may indicate that the postmortem manipulation and handling of the bones produced more bone breakage compared to primary burial deposits. However, this greater fragmentation derives from natural taphonomic factors such as sediment pressure and bone diagenesis (which also accounts for the loss of small, fragile bones in all deposits as described below) as observed in other samples (Diez et al. 1999:625-26).

The evaluation of cut marks can be informative for reconstructing the timing of bone manipulation. If bodies were fleshed during disarticulation, then tools may have been necessary. The results show that elements in the sample do not possess any macroscopically visible cut marks. Since tools were not involved in the disarticulation, manipulation of bodies occurred during the postmortem interval after bodies had become completely (or mostly) skeletonized. The articulation results support this conclusion, with only one example of an articulated vertebral column in the Petroto tomb indicating that corpse manipulation occurred before complete decomposition. I found no refits of fragmented bones between separate burial deposits in the same tomb, leading me to hypothesize that the people carrying out the postmortem manipulation kept elements within their original burial deposit rather than mixing with other deposits in the same tomb. Therefore, the sample overall suggests that there was an intentional waiting period between burials so that the corpse could fully decompose, and that bodies were often spatially kept intact rather than being mixed between the multiple burial locations within the tombs.

Although the fragmentation, cut mark, and articulation data suggest homogeneity within the deposits, the element survival data and the presence of an adjacent primary burial deposit signal important variation. The primary burials show that certain elements survived all stages of burial, decomposition, sediment settling and pressure, excavation, storage, and identification (Fig. 9). The density of the particular bones accounts for the 100% survival rate of the crania, mandibles, scapulae, and all long bones (except fibulae) in all three primary burials. The absence of sterna, patellae, and foot phalanges in the primary burials indicates that these elements do not survive well even in non-manipulated primary burials. Especially noteworthy is the almost complete lack of distal phalanges, demonstrating that these elements rarely survive even in primary burials. Comparing the element survival percentages of the primary burials to the disarticulated bone piles and pits suggests that element survival was due to similar taphonomic factors (Figs. 9 and 10). Like primary burials, the piles on average exhibit good-moderate survival percentages of robust bones and mirror low survival percentages of small and fragile bones such as the teeth, vertebrae, patellae, metatarsals, metacarpals, and phalanges (Fig. 9). Consistently poor percentages of small and fragile elements attest to natural taphonomic damage or excavation bias. This pattern suggests that the piles are composed of primary burials located within the same tomb. Additionally, some element loss occurred from the practice of moving the bones to the chamber sides. The situation is similar in some of the disarticulated pit deposits (Fig. 10). For example, the good survival percentages of long bones, crania and mandibles with the presence of small hand and foot bones and even patellae suggest that pits such as Burial I in Chalandritsa chamber tomb 16 and Burial B in Portes chamber tomb 5 contained primary interments that were manipulated after decomposition. The survival percentages of the disarticulated piles, and some pit burials, suggests that they are composed of carefully disarticulated (and sometimes moved) primary burials found within the same tomb.

In contrast, the pits in Chalandritsa chamber tomb 19, dated to the end of the Mycenaean period (LH IIIC), contain drastically different element survival percentages (Fig. 11, top). Deposits designated Burials 1 and 2 during excavation clearly demonstrate that the people who reentered the tomb selected and sorted bones based on element shape and size, and then reburied them in distinct pits (Fig. 11, bottom). In this tomb, the Burial 1 pit contained long bones, while Burial 2 may represent a pit of selected non-long bones or an act of cleaning the tomb in which all non-long bones were taken from original burial locations on the floor of the tomb and placed in this pit. In addition, the presence of a few small elements in both pits indicates a careful collection of bones or some intact articulations at the time of reburial. This distinct selection and reburial is an atypical pattern within the data set.

The lack of a primary burial in two of the five tombs that also contain unarticulated secondary burial deposits suggests that manipulation of bodies was not based solely on a need for space in a reused tomb. Rather, the piles and pits of disarticulated bones suggest a multistage mortuary process. In other words, tombs were reopened for the sole purpose of manipulating bones rather than only when a death occurred and another body had to be added to the tomb.

To summarize, the homogeneity of the lack of cut marks, the mainly taphonomic fragmentation, and the rare intact skeletal articulations hints at a level of standardization within Mycenaean mortuary practices in Achaia. In contrast, the variations observed in the element survival percentages and location of burials alludes to some flexibility within the mortuary practices. Therefore, categorizing all the pile and pit deposits in this sample as secondary burials masks the variation in the human remains incorporated into these deposits, obscuring the tomb context and interpretation of the mortuary practices.

Discussion: From Burial Deposit to Mortuary Practice

By testing Cavanagh's (1978) hypothesis that Mycenaean second burial was widespread, I have highlighted some important differences within the diverse repertoire of Mycenaean burial deposits. First, the seemingly disorganized piles and pits of disarticulated bones are not the result of a natural taphonomic process, though I did note some minor damage due primarily to sediment pressure. Rather, the deposits are the result of anthropogenic actions. Thus, Cavanagh's tenet finds some support by the analyses here; nearly all Mycenaean human remains, apart from a few primary burials, were subject to postmortem manipulation. However, the nature of that manipulation is diverse. In the following sections, I discuss frameworks for reconstructing social meaning within the proposed burial forms outlined in Table 4. A theoretically informed refinement of Mycenaean burial forms can produce a terminology that highlights, rather than obscures, the range of mortuary practices. Categorization will also aid in recognizing trends in the development and regional variations within Mycenaean burial practices through time. In addition, recent evaluations of complex burial practices in various archaeological contexts around the world prompt a rethinking of Mycenaean postmortem manipulation. The Mycenaean people of Achaia (and likely in other regions as well) reentered tombs and manipulated human remains as part of complex mortuary rituals that not only prepared the tomb for future reuse but were also vital to the social memory of the community.

Mycenaean primary burials

Since Mycenaean burial exhibits variations of mortuary practices and, therefore, degree of manipulation, I categorize primary burials in two forms:

A primary burial describes an articulated skeleton that decomposed in the original place of deposition. Anatomical articulations are present, and element survival percentages are perfect for robust long bones and the skull. Small or fragile elements such as phalanges are often present, but some loss is due to natural taphonomic or excavation factors.

In two tombs presented here (chamber tombs 5 and 12 from Portes), and in many others found throughout the Mycenaean world (see Cavanagh and Mee [1998] for an overview), there is often a primary burial alongside pile and pit burials (see Fig. 2 for example). However, since precise dating of these burials is difficult we do not yet know if the primary burial represents a final burial or a founding burial for the tomb.

In the sample presented here, the disarticulated bone piles mimicked the bone preservation of the primary burials. These deposits represent the alternative hypothesis that some disarticulated burials are not "secondary" burials but are the result of creating space in the tomb for later burials (Knusel 2014:44) by moving the skeletonized remains from previous burials to the sides of the chamber. In moving bones to the chamber edge, neither bone selection nor construction of a designated burial feature for reinterment is present. Thus, a primary redeposition describes a burial that is not in a fully articulated state but contains elements found in quantities comparable to those in the primary burials. Some articulations may be present, but it is clear that bone movement has occurred. In this deposit there is no specific time frame or location for the human remains (Andrews and Bello 2006:17). The category is similar to Duday's (2006:46-47) "reduction of the corpse" and describes the pile burials in a tomb containing a later primary burial.

In contrast, some burial deposits uphold the hypothesis for secondary burial outlined previously and which relies on identifying human actions such as the collection and reburial of remains in a secondary location away from the site of decomposition. In addition, the actions taking place in the grave or tomb must be related to the secondary burial and no other action (Andrews and Bello 2006:17).

Without a primary burial, the tombs possessing only a bone pile, such as Petroto Level 6, do not arise from an immediate need to reuse the tomb (outlined previously as primary redeposited). Rather, these bone piles are evidence of secondary treatment (cf. Moutafi and Voutsaki 2016:Table 2) because the bones were manipulated without the immediate need to inter another body in the tomb. With parallels in Novotny's (2013) work on ancient Maya human remains, the Mycenaean veneration of the dead included the curation of collective ancestors as seen in the secondary treatment of the piles with no corresponding primary interment.

In the archaeological record, secondary burial should stand out by exhibiting a pattern different from the other burial forms. In the Mycenaean Achaia case study, selection of certain bone elements and their transferal to a designated location for the bones indicate secondary burial. Thus, I suggest that the bioarchaeological criterion for Mycenaean secondary burial depends on element survival percentages that are heavily biased in favor of a specific element or bone type (e.g., long bones or crania) and lacking small, fragile bones. Both element selection and a secondary location away from the space of decomposition are apparent. Thus, I use the term secondary burial to describe a burial feature of selected bones placed in a pit or cist, or stacked on the tomb floor. The element selection and secondary location suggests that the last use of the tomb was not for a burial, but for a reburial: a secondary mortuary rite. The pit burials from Chalandritsa chamber tomb 19 are examples of a secondary burial in this study.

Likewise, the interaction with the dead observed here as the purposeful selection and curation of specific elements buried tightly in subterranean pits has been noted by Geller (2012:117,121-122) to imply a "partibility" that facilitated a change in identity after death of an individual. The selection and reburial of human remains may represent a transformed social role for those dead, possibly from living family to revered ancestor. Now that bioarchaeological analyses of Mycenaean burial practices is increasing, Mycenaean scholarship would substantially benefit from future indepth social analyses of postmortem manipulation.


The current use of the term "secondary burial" in Mycenaean research, and in many other archaeological contexts, does not represent the diverse burial practices adequately. In this study, I have shown that burial deposits interpreted with detailed bioarchaeological analysis incorporating taphonomic methods can maximize the potential of legacy data and lead to a more nuanced understanding of complex postmortem mortuary behaviors.

The sample data presented here suggest that Mycenaean burials reflect both natural taphonomic processes and purposeful human action. Differentiating between these actions is crucial for reconstructing mortuary processes in the Mycenaean era and in other periods and places. Use of a bioarchaeological approach that brings contextual information and taphonomic methods to the fore provides new insights even from legacy data. The results suggest that, in Mycenaean Achaia, anthropogenic manipulation primarily took place after skeletonization, although in rare cases it may have occurred during the decomposition period. While the evidence indicates that all disarticulated burials were manipulated in some way, the patterns with the element survival and tomb context data are the key factors for assessing redeposited bones from primary burials within the tomb versus secondary burials. Secondary burial implies bone selection and reburial in a designated space often (but not necessarily) within the same tomb. The moved bone piles may be a by-product of tomb reuse, but they may also be evidence of mortuary ritual that is archaeologically undetectable. While secondary burial in the Mycenaean record may not have been common, the movement and retention of human remains coupled with tomb reuse may be no less ritually or culturally significant. Both actions may suggest intentional engagement with the dead. These diverse manipulations of human remains over time demonstrate complex, purposeful mortuary behavior.

Further development of these criteria for Mycenaean burial forms can be tested with thorough bioarchaeological and archaeothanatological excavation methodology including the recent advances in soil analyses and micromorphology (Karkanas 2017; Karkanas et al. 2012). The recent increase in bioarchaeological studies will facilitate increasingly comprehensive interpretations of the complex Mycenaean mortuary record.


This study was funded by the University of Groningen and the Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory for Archaeological Science of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The author is deeply indebted to Lazaros Kolonas, Michalis Petropoulos, Maria Stavropoulou-Gatsi, and Lena Papazoglou-Manioudaki for their permission to study the human remains from Portes, Petroto, and Chalandritsa. I am sincerely grateful for Konstantina Aktypi and Michalis Gazis's aid with permits and logistics of studying the material. Lastly immense thanks go to Sofia Voutsaki, Jane E. Buikstra, the three anonymous reviewers, and the editors for providing thorough and constructive feedback.

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Olivia A. Jones (a,b*)

(a) Groningen Institute of Archaeology, University of Groningen, Poststraat 6, 9712 ER Groningen, The Netherlands

(b) Malcom H. Wiener Laboratory for Archaeological Science, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Souidias 54,106 76 Athens, Greece

(*) Correspondence to: Olivia A. Jones, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Poststraat 6, 9712 ER Groningen, The Netherlands


Received 9 December 2017

Revised 15 July 2018

Accepted 20 August 2018

(1.) Excavation photos and plans were accessible to the author but I was not permitted to publish them at this time.

DOI: 10.5744/bi.2018.1025
Table 1. Mycenaean Chronology (modified from Shelmerdine 1997:Table 1
and Voutsaki et al. 2013:Table 1).

Time Period          Abbreviation  Relative Dates (B.C.)

Middle Helladic III  MH III        1800-1700
Late Helladic I      LH I          1700-1580
Late Helladic IIA    LH IIA        1580-1480
Late Helladic IIB    LH IIB        1480-1390
Late Helladic IIIA   LH IIIA       1390-1300
Late Helladic IIIB   LH IIIB       1300-1190
Late Helladic IIIC   LH IIIC       1190-1065

Table 2. Categories of Bone Preservation (adapted from Moutafi and
Voutsaki 2016:Table 1).

                         Method of Assessment
                         Bone          Fragment        Element
                         Completeness  Size (average)  Survival

          Good           >75%          >200 mm         >75%
Category  Good-Moderate   50-75%        150-200 mm      50-75%
          Moderate-Poor   25-50%        100-150 mm      25-50%
          Poor           <25%          <100 mm         <25%

Table 3. Burial Sample.

Site          Tomb

Petroto       Tholos
Portes        Chamber tomb 5
Portes        Chamber tomb 12
Petroto       Tholos
Portes        Chamber tomb 5
Portes        Chamber tomb 12
Portes        Chamber tomb 5
Chalandritsa  Chamber tomb 16
Chalandritsa  Chamber tomb 19

Site          Burial: Description

              Primary Deposits
Petroto       Level 3: primary deposit in a cist
Portes        Burial A: primary deposit in a cist
Portes        Burial B: primary deposit against south wall
              Pile Deposits
Petroto       Level 6: pile against east wall
Portes        Burial C: pile against south wall
Portes        Burial A: scattered bones on chamber floor
              Burial C: pile against southwest wall
              Pit Deposits
Portes        Burial B: pit of bones against west wall
Chalandritsa  Burial I: pit against southeast wall
Chalandritsa  Burial 1: pit in southwest corner
              Burial 2: pit in the northwest corner

Site          Preliminary LH Date

Petroto       LH IIIC
Portes        LH I IIIC
Portes        LH I IIIC
Petroto       LH IIA
Portes        LH I IIIC
Portes        LH I IIIC
Portes        LH I IIIC
Chalandritsa  LH IIB-IIIC
Chalandritsa  LH IIIC

Table 4. Proposed Mycenaean Burial Forms.

Burial                    Element Survival

Primary burial            All elements present except
                          some small/fragile bones
Primary redeposition (*)  All elements present except
                          small/fragile bones
Secondary treatment       All elements present except
                          small/fragile bones
Secondary burial          Selection of bones: high
                          rates of specific bones

Burial                    Articulation

                          Primary Burials
Primary burial            Intact
Primary redeposition (*)  Intact or partially
                          Secondary Burials
Secondary treatment       Intact or partially
Secondary burial          Disarticulated

Burial                    Spatial Characteristics

Primary burial            In original decomposition location
Primary redeposition (*)  Moved from decomposition location
Secondary treatment       Moved from decomposition location
Secondary burial          Arrangement of bones or placement in pit or
                          cist separate from decomposition location

Burial                    Tomb Context

Primary burial            NA
Primary redeposition (*)  With primary
Secondary treatment       Without primary
Secondary burial          With or without
                          primary burial

(*) Corresponds to Duday's "reduction of the corpse" (2009:72).

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