The 'Shep-herd' relationship in Classical and Hellenistic Thessaly, Greece: Investigating husbandry practices using carbon, oxygen, and strontium isotopes from sheep and goat tooth enamel

  • Author / Creator
    Bishop, Katherine G.
  • I investigate pastoral archaeology in Greece, and specifically the Hellenistic contexts at Kastro Kallithea and Pharsalos. Current research on ancient pastoralism in Thessaly, Greece is divided over the presence, prevalence, and degree of specialized shepherding or seasonally mobile management (transhumance), a discussion referred to as the agropastoral debate. I present the first isotope-based contribution to this discussion. I sequentially sample sheep and goat third molars (M3) recovered from Building 10 at Kastro Kallithea and the Arsenopoulos and Alexopoulos Plots at Pharsalos, and isotopically analyze the resulting enamel segments to reconstruct aspects of diet (δ13C), seasonality (δ18O), and geolocation (87Sr/86Sr). I integrate this stable isotope analysis with archaeological, ethnographic, and literary data to examine various husbandry styles used in Thessaly.

    Through this research I have found evidence of sedentary, seasonally mobile, and other specialized forms of pastoralism, including the first recorded cases of transhumant animal management in Thessaly from the Hellenistic period. Each management style would have had corresponding impacts on ancient economy, sociopolitical livelihood, land use, and human-animal relationships. I show how the stable isotope values of animal teeth can be used as a tool for studying the spatiotemporal distribution of shepherding and, when used in conjunction with contextualizing research, ultimately allow us to study animal management styles in the Mediterranean. My research lays the foundation for future studies of animal management in Thessaly, starts to map out the extent of transhumance in the region, and contributes a nuanced voice to the long-standing debate on the use and extent of ancient Greek pastoralism. Ultimately this research presents a glimpse into shepherding livelihoods and connects the modern and deep pasts in Thessaly.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.