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Jordanian migration and mobility in the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2100–1550 BCE) at Pella

Stantis, Chris; Maaranen, Nina; Kharobi, Arwa; Nowell, Geoff M.; Macpherson, Colin; Schutkowski, Holger; Bourke, Stephen

Jordanian migration and mobility in the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2100–1550 BCE) at Pella Thumbnail


Chris Stantis

Nina Maaranen

Arwa Kharobi

Holger Schutkowski

Stephen Bourke


The site of Pella, located in the foothills of the east Jordan valley, was a prosperous city–state throughout the Middle Bronze Age (MBA, ca. 2000–1500 BCE). As part of a widespread trading network, Pella enjoyed extensive socio-economic relationships with Egypt, Cyprus, and the Aegean, Anatolia, and Babylonia during this period. We report isotopic analysis (87Sr/86Sr, δ18O, and δ13C) from enamel of 22 human permanent second molars of which 13 second lower molars were used for an additional biodistance analysis based on ASUDAS. The multidisciplinary approach investigates the ancestral background of MBA Pella and the degree of temporary or more permanent relocation from other settlements. Ancillary to carbonate isotope analysis for migration investigation, dietary information in the form of δ13Ccarbonate was also collected. δ13Ccarbonate values (mean −12.3‰ ± 0.4 SD) suggest a uniform diet reliant on C3 cereals and legumes as crops and animal fodder, adhering to expected Bronze Age Levantine dietary norms. Two methods are used to identify non-locals. Using a biospheric baseline, three individuals with non-local 87Sr/86Sr ratios are identified. Bagplot analysis of both 87Sr/86Sr and δ18O data suggests that three individuals (14%) grew up elsewhere; two individuals who were already identified as 87Sr/86Sr outliers using biospheric data and one more with outlying δ18O values. All individuals identified as non-locals, using either method, are from one tomb, Tomb 62. The dental nonmetric traits indicated diverse morphology and subsequent ancestry for Tomb 62 (11/13), whereas primary burials (2/13) clustered together. The commingled condition of Tomb 62 material prevented a more exhaustive biodistance analysis, but the tentative results coincide with interpretations of the tomb. Significant movements of populations throughout the Middle Bronze Age are evidenced through funerary rituals and architecture, and this study demonstrates that Pella, thought to be peripheral, nonetheless had some permanent movement evidenced through isotopes and ancestry analysis.


Stantis, C., Maaranen, N., Kharobi, A., Nowell, G. M., Macpherson, C., Schutkowski, H., & Bourke, S. (2022). Jordanian migration and mobility in the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2100–1550 BCE) at Pella. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 32(2), 339-357.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 11, 2021
Online Publication Date Nov 22, 2021
Publication Date Apr 19, 2022
Deposit Date Jan 26, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jan 27, 2022
Journal International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Print ISSN 1047-482X
Electronic ISSN 1099-1212
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 2
Pages 339-357
Public URL


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (1.3 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

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