“Kinship, status and social inequality in the Early Bronze Age of Southeastern Europe: the case of Mokrin necropolis”, financed by Wenner-Gren Foundation (Dissertation Fieldwork Grant).

The Bronze Age period is characterized by major social, political, and economical changes, which resulted in the formation of complex chiefdoms and social differentiation. It is considered that kinship ties channeled the power and relations between individuals and groups. Although the potential for development of ranked society exists on the Early Bronze Age site of Mokrin necropolis in Serbia (2100 - 1800 BC), previous studies haven’t suggested major changes in the social organization. The main goal of the project is to conduct kinship analyses on skeletal remains from the Mokrin necropolis and to address the hypotheses regarding vertical and horizontal stratification. We aimed to answer the questions: Were wealth and social status hereditary? Were the two groups buried in the same part of the necropolis closely related? And does this spatial layout reflect a division of the society into two horizontal segments (moieties)?

With improved DNA extraction methods from skeletal remains, minimized risk of contamination and the new technology, ancient DNA studies have the power to identify genealogy and inheritance practices of Mokrin society. Although kinship studies are generally missing from bioarchaeological studies of the Balkans region, they are very significant for the study of the process of social evolution and connection between the social status and kinship. The kinship analyses could also provide a better insight into the degree of ranking in the Balkans and Europe and into the transition mechanisms of human social organization.

The project is a collaboration between Laboratory of Bioarcheology, University of Belgrade, Department of Anthropology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany and the National museum of Kikinda, Serbia.

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