Early Cycladic Cemeteries

Early Cycladic grave types
(R.L.N. Barber, The Cyclades in the Bronze Age, London 1987, p. 77)
Since the 19th century, archaeologists have been studying the Cycladic culture of the Early Bronze Age (3200-2000 BC) by excavating cemeteries and observing differences in the graves and grave goods.
The Cycladic people of the EBA did not have a system of writing nor do archaeologists have comprehensive information on their settlements; therefore, scholars must rely on the numerous excavated cemeteries for insight into the organization of their society and their views on death.
Overall changes in the distribution and organization of Cycladic cemeteries through time suggest a gradual shift from small and isolated communities to larger, urban centres.
The large variety of grave goods found in tombs reflects a society with different levels of wealth. The presence of grave goods might also imply a belief in an afterlife

Early Cycladic I period (3200-2800 BC)

Burial in contracted position, from an Early Cycladic grave
  During the Early Cycladic I period, cemeteries consisted of clusters of 10-15 cist-graves located on a hillside. These graves, shallow subterranean pits lined with four stone slabs, housed only one body in a contracted position. The body lied on its right side, the knees were pulled up to the chest and the hands rested in front of the body. In some cases, a small platform was constructed just above the grave, possibly to be used for funerary rituals. Only a small minority of EC I graves contained grave goods. Pottery was the most common artifact but marble figurines and beads have also been found in some burials. The goods could have been the individual's personal items, and the gesture of burying an object with its owner might also be a sign of a belief in an afterlife. The small number of graves and the distribution of EC I cemeteries suggests a system of habitation based on dispersed family-centred farmsteads.
Typical grave offerings of the EC I period
(R.L.N. Barber, The Cyclades in the Bronze Age, London 1987, p. 90-91, 124)

Early Cycladic II period (2800-2300 BC)
During the Early Cycladic II period, there were more cemeteries and each tended to have more graves and burials, reflecting a rise in population and possibly a different organization of society. The establishment of new burial grounds close to the sea seems to suggest a shift to coastal, nucleated communities. While cist-graves remained in use, their size and design was altered slightly to accommodate multiple burials. The graves became deeper and included a small platform separating the latest burial; earlier burials were stored underneath the platform. Goods included marble vessels and figurines, silver and bronze jewellery, cosmetic items, beads of shell and stone, and pottery. Bronze weapons appear in a very small number of graves. As in the earlier phase, there is considerable variation in the quantity and quality of grave goods (while many graves had no goods at all), reflecting a society of varying wealth and status.
At this period, a new type of corbelled tomb emerged at the extensive Chalandriani cemetery on Syros. In a corbelled tomb, the roughly circular walls were made of courses of dry masonry decreasing in diameter until only one slab was needed to seal the tomb. Although the Chalandriani tombs were provided with side entrances, they mostly held single burials. More than 600 graves have been found, clustered in distinct groups; there is considerable diversity in the quantity and quality of grave goods.
Typical grave offerings of the EC II period
(R.L.N. Barber, The Cyclades in the Bronze Age, London 1987, p. 90-91, 104, 124)

Early Cycladic III period (2300-2000 BC)
In the Early Cycladic III period, many cemeteries were abandoned and this has been thought to reflect a decrease in population. However, it is also possible that this phenomenon indicates a shift of occupation towards coastal urban centers, such as Phylakopi on Melos, Paroikia on Paros and possibly Ag. Irini on Keos, Akrotiri on Thera and Grotta on Naxos (although the corresponding levels of the latter settlements are rather insufficiently explored, so far). Our knowledge of EC III burial customs is very limited, since only a few cemeteries of this period have been excavated. We do know, however, that the Cycladic people continued to use cist graves, but the rock-cut tomb also emerged during this period to accommodate multiple burials. The few excavated tombs and cemeteries have included more decorated pottery than earlier periods but very few items of other materials.

Typical grave offerings of the EC III priod
(R.L.N. Barber, The Cyclades in the Bronze Age, London 1994, p.90-91)