Interments characterized by unusual burial treatment of certain individuals which do not conform to contemporary normative burial practices, nor fall under the expected range of variation have been identified repeatedly in the archaeological record, and are now the object of a heated discussion. The location of the interment, the characteristics of the burial structure, the position of the body and, in some cases, traces of mutilation of the corpse are some of the ‘deviant’ features that characterize these burials. This paper explores cases of unusual burials from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period in Greece and attempts to understand the motivation or reasons behind such practices. A specific case-study, two beheaded skeletons found in the House of Fourni at Delos (first century BCE, Cyclades), will be discussed in more detail by means of a conjoined archaeological and osteological analysis which can help us decipher this find and better understand the identity of the deceased.
Voula Tritsaroli studied archaeology at the University of Athens in Greece. She completed her PhD on human osteology and bioarchaeology at the Natural History Museum in Paris where she studied Byzantine cemetery populations from Greece and then she pursued her research at the American School of Classical Athens. She also worked as archaeologist at the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports when she participated in numerous excavations. Voula has published on mortuary practices and everyday life of past populations ranging from prehistory to the Post-Medieval period. She is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Groningen Institute of Archaeology; her research examines the life and death ways of people under Roman rule, by using as case study the Roman colony of Dion in Macedonia. Her topic today deals with unusual burials in Greek antiquity from a bioarchaeological point of view and focuses on two skeletons found in a non-funerary context at Delos.