Bioarchaeological field analysis of human remains from the mass graves at Phaleron, Greece

Anne Ingvarsson, Ylva Bäckström, Stella Chryssoulaki, Anna Linderholm, Anna Kjellström, Vendela Kempe Lagerholm, Maja Krzewińska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2016, archaeological excavations undertaken by the Ephorate of Antiquities of West Attica, Piraeus and Islands 3.8 km south-west of Athens, Greece, revealed mass burials of 79 skeletons in three rows. The burials are dated to the 7th century BC. The anthropological field documentation was undertaken by The Swedish Institute of Athens, and followed established bioarchaeological protocols regarding taphonomic processes, age, sex, injuries, and pathological changes. The descriptions and interpretations should be regarded as preliminary field observations. A majority of the individuals were young adult or juvenile males, most of them without signs of active disease and with a generally good oral health status, but with corroded iron shackles around their wrists. Cause of death could not be determined although extensive and likely perimortem fractures were observed. The only object related to injury and/or possible cause of death was an arrowhead found in the chest of one of the skeletons. Why and where the individuals were killed is a matter of conjecture; the observations from the field documentation neither validate, nor disprove the hypothesis that these individuals were captives and victims of the socalled "Cylonian conspiracy" in the 7th century BC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number02
Pages (from-to)7-158
Number of pages152
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Classical Archaeology and Ancient History

Free keywords

  • Archaic
  • Greece
  • Mass graves
  • Osteology
  • Phaleron


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