This dissertation addresses the role of kinship and residential mobility during the transition from Final Neolithic to Early Bronze Age (ca. 3500 – 2500 BC) in Attica, Greece. It examines descent systems, ancestor formation, and the interplay between biological, social, and spatial structure in mortuary practices. It also evaluates the nature and degree of residential mobility and its potential role in the formation and maintenance of social networks. Archaeological hypotheses on the kin-based structure of formal cemeteries, the familial use of collective tombs, marriage practices and mate exchange, and relocation were tested focusing on the Early Helladic cemetery of Tsepi at Marathon. Tsepi constitutes the earliest formally organized cemetery on the Greek mainland and it has also contributed to enduring debates over the nature of the interaction between the eastern Attic coast and the central Aegean islands.
This study integrates osteological, biogeochemical, and archaeological data. Inherited dental and cranial features were used to examine biological relatedness and postmarital residence (biodistance analysis). Biochemical analysis of archaeological and modern samples was conducted to examine the geographic origins of the individuals buried in the cemetery and reconstruct mobility patterns. Osteological and biogeochemical data were interpreted in conjunction with archaeological and ethnographic/ethnohistoric data.
The results generally supported a relationship between spatial organization and biological relatedness based on phenotypic similarity at Tsepi. Postmarital residence analysis showed exogamous practices and tentatively supported higher male than female mobility. This practice, along with dietary inferences, could also be suggestive of maritime activities. Biogeochemical analysis showed a local character for the cemetery sample (96%). The common provenance of the three non-local individuals might reflect a link between Tsepi and a single locale. Burial location was not determined by provenance or solely by biological relatedness. Overall, the results point towards more nuanced reconstructions of mobility in prehistoric Aegean and suggest that burial location depended on a complex set of inter-individual relationships and collective identities. The contextualized bioarchaeological approach applied in this study added to the anthropological investigations of social practices such as kin relations (e.g., biological, marital, social kinship) and residential relocation as diachronic mechanisms of integration, adaptation, or differentiation.