Regional differences in the health status of late Bronze Age Mycenaean populations from East Lokris, Greece
Iezzi, Carina Angelica
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The study of Mycenaean skeletal remains from the East Lokris region of central Greece can provide information about non-elite populations compared to those from major centers. This contrast can serve to broaden our perspective on how social and environmental factors affected the health of the non-elite and therefore provide a more holistic portrait of the Mycenaean world. This project represents the first population-level analysis of Mycenaean skeletal remains from central Greece. The goal of this study was to assess potential health differences between different environmental zones in East Lokris. Four questions were addressed: (1) did health vary between coastal and inland populations? (2) Did health vary between the sexes? (3) Did subsistence types vary per region? (4) Were there regional differences in gene pools? A series of Late Helladic III B-C (1325-1100 BCE) human skeletal remains were examined for this study. All burials were derived from chamber tombs that had been looted in modern times. Tomb architecture served as a control for socioeconomic status. Results indicated that there were significantly higher rates of anemia and platymeria inland and, overall, health was poorer. This was likely due to the more rugged environment and possibly somewhat different social conditions present inland. Overall, East Lokrian women had significantly more metabolic disorders than did men. These were more likely a result of nutritional depletion from childbearing and poor sanitary conditions than from living in a patriarchal society. Men had significantly more physical stressors than did women. Based on stressors observed in both sexes, there appears to have been a division of labor by sex inland, while there was more of a social division of labor coastally. Analyses indicated that there were somewhat different subsistence bases in each region, with the coastal group more involved in agriculture and the inland group subsisting on a more mixed economy. Non-metric variations indicated that the coastal region contained a higher prevalence of Asiatic traits, while the inland region had more European traits. These findings suggest gene flow from different areas into East Lokris based on geography.