Identifying kurgan graves in Eastern Hungary: A burial mound in the light of strontium and oxygen isotope analysis.

Claudia Gerling, Volker M Heyd, Alistair W G Pike, Eszter Banffy, Janos Dani, Kitti Kohler, Gabriella Kulcsar, Elke Kaiser, Wolfram Schier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


Isotopic analyses of human tooth enamel are increasingly applied to provide answers to archaeological questions. 87Sr/86Sr and d18O analyses are used to investigate small- and large-scale mobility and migration of prehistoric human individuals. Within a pilot study looking into the kurgan graves in the Eastern Carpathian Basin, we analysed the tooth enamel of 8 humans from the Early Bronze Age burial mound of Sárrétudvari-Örrhalom, Hungary. According to the archaeological record, the kurgan is linked to the Northern Pontic Yamnaya regional groups. Certain foreign burial traditions suggest that the connection is close, or even that the individuals buried in the mound had migrated from the East into the Great Hungarian Plain. Strontium and oxygen isotope analyses reveal an earlier period of ‘local’ burials, spanning the period 3300–2900 BC, followed by burials that postdate 2900 BC that exhibit ‘nonlocal’ isotopic signatures. The combination of the isotope values and the grave goods associated with the non-local burials point to the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains as the nearest location representing a possible childhood origin of this nonlocal group.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPopulation Dynamics in Prehistory and Early History. New Approaches Using Stable Isotopes and Genetics.
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the International Conference March 24-26, 2010 at the Freie Universität Berlin.
Place of PublicationBerlin
Publisherde Gruyter
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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