The Interwoven Effects of Regionalism in Southeast Thessaly

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ancient Pastoralism

  • Katherine Bishop University of Alberta


This study investigates possible evidence of seasonal movement of animals – transhumance – in the Greek archaeological record. By engaging with the so-called Agropastoral Debate in Thessaly this analysis argues that regionalism and rising urbanization forced a marked reliance on wool-based economy. The increased demand for wool created herd sizes larger than what local subsistence agriculture could support. Shepherds were required to move with their herds and utilize either short- or long-distance transhumance within Thessaly. This multidisciplinary approach examines transhumant domestication through ethnographic, ethnohistoric and literary sources integrated with palaeobotanical, material, cultural, and zooarchaeological evidence at Classical-Hellenistic sites in the regions of Thessalian Phthiotis (Pharsalos) and Achaia Phthiotis (New Halos, and Kastro Kallithea) in southeast Thessaly. Preliminary data supports mobile pastoralism in antiquity and argues for transhumant domestication in Thessaly by at least the Hellenistic period. This study is part of a larger research project interested in animal management practices and domesticated sheep and goat herd movements in ancient Thessaly.