Strontium isotope evidence for human mobility in the Neolithic of northern Greece

H. L. Whelton*, J. Lewis, P. Halstead, V. Isaakidou, S. Triantaphyllou, V. Tzevelekidi, K. Kotsakis, R. P. Evershed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Strontium isotope ratios are widely used in archaeology to differentiate between local and non-local populations. Herein, strontium isotope ratios of 36 human tooth enamels from seven archaeological sites spanning the Early to Late Neolithic of northern Greece (7th–5th millennia B.C.E.) were analysed with the aim of providing new information relating to the movement of humans across the region. Local bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr signals were established using tooth enamel from 26 domestic animals from the same Neolithic sites. 87Sr/86Sr values of faunal enamel correlate well with predicted strontium isotope ratios of the local geology. This is consistent with animal management occurring at a local level, although at Late Neolithic sites strontium isotope values became more varied, potentially indicating changing herding practices. The strontium isotope analysis of human tooth enamel likewise suggests limited population movement within the Neolithic of northern Greece. Almost all individuals sampled exhibited 87Sr/86Sr values consistent with having spent their early life (during the period of tooth mineralisation) in the local area, although movement could have occurred between isotopically homogeneous areas. The strontium isotope ratios of only three individuals lay outside of the local bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr range and these individuals are interpreted as having spent their early lives in a region with a more radiogenic biologically available 87Sr/86Sr. Mobility patterns determined using Sr isotope analysis supports the current evidence for movement and exchange observed through studies of pottery circulation. Suggesting limited movement in the Early and Middle Neolithic and greater movement in the Late Neolithic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-774
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Early online date28 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Strontium isotopes
  • Neolithic
  • Greece
  • Mobility
  • Human
  • Animals

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