Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/18/2021 - 8/17/2021

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Animals of a Late Bronze Age Household at Mycenae, Greece

FAIN: FT-278594-21

Jacqueline Meier
University of North Florida (Jacksonville, FL 32224-7699)

Research and writing two articles on the use and treatment of animals in Late Bronze Age Mycenae in Greece.

Animals played vital roles as symbols, resources and individuals in Late Bronze Age societies. My research uses a context-based approach to elucidate human-animal interactions at Mycenae, Greece in the Late Bronze Age. I employ zooarchaeology to study how ceramic artisans lived with and used animals at the height of the palatial period at Mycenae (LHIIIA2, 14th c. BCE). I focus on faunal remains recovered from a well in the craft-producing household of Petsas House. The well remains are a significant source of evidence about animal lives, as texts and household evidence of animals are rare at Mycenae. With NEH support, I will write two articles to clarify how animal and human lives were intertwined in a Mycenaean household. I will use a life history approach to study household management of animals and domestic faunal refuse. This will challenge current views of human-animal boundaries at Mycenae and reveal how animals were a part of the household in life and death.

Media Coverage

Details of life in Bronze Age Mycenae could lie at the bottom of a well (Media Coverage)
Publication: PopSci
Date: 3/3/2023

Bronze Age well contents reveal the history of animal resources in Mycenae, Greece (Media Coverage)
Publication: Science Magazine
Date: 3/7/2023

Restos animales de la cultura micénica preservados en un pozo (Media Coverage)
Publication: cienciaplus
Date: 3/7/2023

Date: 3/7/2023

Associated Products

“Well” off in animals: A taphonomic history of faunal resources and refuse from a well feature at Petsas House, Mycenae (Greece) (Article)
Title: “Well” off in animals: A taphonomic history of faunal resources and refuse from a well feature at Petsas House, Mycenae (Greece)
Author: Jacqueline Meier
Author: Gypsy Price
Author: Kim Shelton
Abstract: At the renowned archaeological site of Mycenae, striking depictions of animals in ancient art and architecture, such as the ‘Lion Gate’, reflect the great power of elite residents in the Late Bronze Age. To better understand how social complexity relates to human-animal interactions at Mycenae, more research is needed on the animals who actually lived there. In a first for the archaeological site of Mycenae, we utilized a contextual taphonomic approach and statistical analysis to study a faunal assemblage, focusing on a massive deposit recovered from a well feature located in Room Π of Petsas House. Petsas House was an industrial-residential complex at Mycenae used at least in part by ceramic artisans at the time of its destruction in the Late Helladic IIIA2 period. Intra-contextual analysis of the animal remains detected sub-assemblages with variable histories of animal use and deposition. The results revealed multiple disposal events and possible dog interments. Most of the refuse in the well likely originated from rubbish piles in the surrounding rooms and periphery that were cleaned after a destructive earthquake. Together, the faunal evidence yielded a more nuanced, possibly seasonal picture of animal access than previously available at this important political center. The results provide new insights into the diverse and resilient resource provisioning strategies available to extra-palatial residents of Mycenae, especially those who participated in craft production and trade networks at the height of the palatial period.
Year: 2023
Primary URL: http://
Access Model: Open
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: PLoS One
Publisher: PLoS One

Artisan-animal interactions at Petsas House, Mycenae (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Artisan-animal interactions at Petsas House, Mycenae
Author: Jacqueline Meier
Author: Gypsy Price
Author: Kim Shelton
Abstract: Live and dead animals played complex roles at Mycenae, Greece during the Late Bronze Age. Archaeological remains of non-human animal bodies provide insights into how they were treated as sources of food, raw materials, symbolism, and how they lived as active companions and members of past societies. Abundant animal remains were recovered from Petsas House, a residence used for ceramic production and storage at Mycenae. They were found with an array of materials, including ceramic vessels and architectural debris in a well deposit, which likely formed shortly following a destructive earthquake. Previous analysis of the well fauna, dating to the LH III A2 period (14th c. BCE), revealed abundant livestock remains, including young pigs that point to some local pig management. This paper will utilize zooarchaeological analysis to delve into the domesticated animal populations that were raised, culled, used, and deposited in the extra-palatial well context. We focus on the demography and body-part representation of pigs and caprines (sheep and goats). The results are compared to the taphonomic history of the deposit to better relate the evidence of past animal management to animal use by the artisan residents. Notably, we detected structured culling and variable carcass completeness for the pigs, sheep, and goats. This reflects some general access to locally managed and butchered populations and more specific indirect access to select parts of sheep likely produced for wool. These results are used to decenter the picture of Mycenaean animal use, commonly based on Linear B textual evidence of palatial interests in sheep. Ultimately, our findings reflect how a single household of artisans had different levels of direct and indirect engagement with specific taxa. This provides new insights into human-animal boundaries across different social realms of Mycenae.
Date: 1/6/2022
Conference Name: Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting, 2022

Revitalizing the Vittles: Recent advances in the study of animal subsistence at Mycenae (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Revitalizing the Vittles: Recent advances in the study of animal subsistence at Mycenae
Author: Gypsy Price
Author: Jacqueline Meier
Abstract: Schliemann's unprecedented excavations at Mycenae paved the way for almost 150 years of archaeological investigations focused on the elite people that have come to exemplify the site in the Late Bronze Age. While Schliemann's campaigns focused on elite burials "rich in gold", most of the ecofacts "rich in data" were overlooked in the early days of archaeology at the site. This includes the archaeological remains of animals from Mycenae that reflect ubiquitous and versatile faunal resources. As the consumption of faunal resources transcends political and social hierarchies, animals served as wealth on the hoof and permeated most aspects of past social life. Animals were not absent from early Mycenaean narratives; yet, animal roles were largely based on imagery/iconography which reflected not only elite lives, but idealized elite experiences and relationships with the natural world. For example, interpretations of the iconic stag hunt signet ring from shaft grave IV and boars tusk helmets are associated with wild animal hunting for status and power. In more recent research of animals at Mycenae and throughout the Mycenaean world, the focus has shifted to studies of feasting on meaty animal parts. However, animal remains preserve even more detailed information about Mycenaean subsistence practice and how it relates to social inequality, economic change, and human-environmental interactions. Here, we present findings from our ongoing faunal study of Petsas House, Mycenae, with a focus on cattle. We discuss several advances in faunal research that have furthered the wider narrative of subsistence practice at the site, including recent isotopic and spatial analysis. Context-based analysis of the faunal refuse from this industrial-domestic complex provides new insights into the lived experiences of fauna down to the individual level. Together, these scientific research advancements enable us to move beyond Schliemann’s goals and address questions of subsistence practice
Date: 5/7/2022
Primary URL:

Animals of Petsas House, Mycenae (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Animals of Petsas House, Mycenae
Abstract: Public lecture for the Jacksonville, FL Society of the Archaeological Institute of America Dr. Meier will discuss new zooarchaeological findings which have revealed rich aspects of the everyday lives of Mycenaean craft producers. She will discuss new findings on the herd animals and pets that were a part of domestic life at Petsas House, a ceramic producing household at the famous site.
Author: Jacqueline Meier
Date: 9/18/2021
Location: University of North Florida

Dog Days of the Past (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Dog Days of the Past
Abstract: Science on Tap, a public lecture series in downtown Jacksonville.
Author: Jacqueline Meier
Date: 10/12/2022
Location: Justice pub and Jacksonville University (FL)