Promoting Archaeological Science in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East: Current work on Organic and Inorganic Materials

17th to 23rd July 2022




Applications are now open!


The Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Centre (STARC) of the Cyprus Institute, in collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge and Leuven are delighted to announce that the 2022 Cyprus Institute Summer School "Promoting Archaeological Science in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East: Current work on Organic and Inorganic Materials" will be held from 17th to 23rd July, 2022.

Part of the EU-funded Promised project, the summer school is organised around an intensive series of daily lectures from leading archaeological scientists from STARC, the Universities of Cyprus, Cambridge and Leuven.

Field trips and visits to UNESCO World Heritage sites will complement the lectures.

The summer school will take place at the Environmental Centre of the village of Pedoulas, in the Troodos mountains.


Please see the proposed programme below.


The Summer School is aimed at postgraduate students (Masters' or PhD level), postdocs and professionals in a relevant field of study. Places are limited to ensure a good ratio of students to lecturers; final-year undergraduate students can be admitted, spaces permitting.

Cost: The cost for the summer school is €600 and includes local transport from the airport to Pedoulas and archaeological sites, and all meals and accommodation. Flights are not included. A non-refundable 33% deposit (€200) is required within two weeks of being offered a place in order to secure your place. ECTS will be available upon request.

Limited scholarships/ stipends are available upon request, particularly for applicants from low income countries and those with a demonstrable involvement in archaeological science in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. Applications should include a brief motivation letter, a CV and the name of a potential referee, such as an academic advisor.


The application deadline is 24th of June 2022. Places are limited and will be given on a first come, first served basis. To apply for a place and for any further details, please contact Antrea Oratiou at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Summer School is organised as part of the activities of the Horizon 2020 project “PROMISED: Promoting Archaeological Science in the Eastern Mediterranean’’.

Please visit the PROMISED project website for further information and a report on the previous summer schools, "From Natural Resources to Material Culture: Transdisciplinary Approaches in Archaeological Science" (2019), and "Ancient Landscapes: Raw Materials and Natural Resources" (2021).


 2022 summer school programme

 Promoting Archaeological Science in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East: Current work on Organic and Inorganic Material


Arrival: Sunday 17/07/2022



Saturday 23rd




Professor M. Collin
(University of    Cambridge)

What can old proteins do for us?
Professor M. Martinón-Torres
(University of Cambridge)

Gold as a material: an introduction

 Dr D. Fuks
(University of Cambridge)

Multi-scalar archaeobotanical reconstruction of
ancient plant economy: a case study from the
Late Antique Negev Highlands

Professor Th. Rehren
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

Late Bronze Age glass in the EMME region
 Dr M. Gkouma
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

How are archaeological sites formed?
Applications of soil micromorphology to understanding site formation processes



 Dr T. O’Connell
(University of Cambridge)

Isotopic studies in archaeology - the how, the what, the why
Professor M. Martinon-Torres
(University of Cambridge)

Comparative approaches to the technology, use and value of gold
 Dr A. Hadjikoumis
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

Overview of zooarchaeology in the eastern Mediterranean and two case studies: caprine management in Cyprus and cynophagy in Greece
 Dr A. Oikonomou
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

Cyprus in the center of glass distribution: new analytical data
Dr E. Nikita
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

EMME bioarchaeology: exploring mobility, diet and pathology from prehistory to Medieval times




 Dr A. Van Ham-Meert (University of Leuven)
The role of Sr isotopic analysis for dendroprovancing – pitfalls and possibilities
 Dr M. Georgakopoulou
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

Prehistoric extractive metallurgy and metalworking: Case studies from the EBA Aegean
Dr J.J. García-Granero
(Spanish National Research Council)

Starch grain and phytolith analyses in archaeology

 Dr M. Menu
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

Analysis of prehistoric art
 Dr G. Artopoulos, N. Louca, M. Rafat-Saleh
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

Co-creating Immersive Visualisations of Archaeological Sites: Khirokitia VR 




 Dr T. O’Connell
(University of Cambridge)

Isotopic studies in archaeology - case studies
 Professor V. Kassianidou (University of Cyprus)
Revealing the long history of copper production in Cyprus – fieldwork/lab work/archival research
Dr E. Margaritis
(The Cyprus Institute – STARC)

Integrating excavation and archaeological science: the case of EBA Keros in the Cyclades
Dr A. Cortell
(University of Cambridge)

Tactical simulation and Agent-Based modelling to understand the past
L. Bonner
(University of Cambridge)

'You do what?': Communicating Your Research to the Public




     Dr Ch. Leontiou (The Cyprus Institute)
Graduate School presentation




   Visit to the Unesco monument of Ioannis Lambadistis Monastery at Kalopanagiotis village Guided Tour of the village of Pedoulas  Workshop: Cyanotype on plants  Pottery making session  
20:00  Dinner  Dinner  Dinner  Dinner End of the summer school dinner with local musicians  

List of Abstracts:


Monday 18th


- Professor M. Collins (University of Cambridge)What can old proteins do for us?

The last decade has established the study of ancient proteins as a significant and useful addition to the arsenal of biomolecular methods for historic and archaeological materials. Once we had established that proteins did indeed persist, the approximate limits to survival have (delightfully) been repeatedly broken. Phylogenetic studies have helped resolve thorny and long-standing taxonomic questions but more recent studies have highlighted their obvious limitations. In cultural heritage and archaeology, a simple fingerprinting tool has uncovered scribal jokes in Medieval manuscripts, split the ‘Maglemosian’ culture in two and revealed early hominin fossils. Attention is turning to complex mixtures and biological signals. As we learn more we are confounded by the challenge of identifying authentically old proteins and the complexity of decomposition pathways. Intriguingly there are some odd, and unexpected results which demand a rethinking of the approaches we take to study modern proteins and these will be explored in the latter half of my presentation.


-  Dr T. O’Connell (University of Cambridge)Isotopic studies in archaeology - the how, the what, the why.


- Dr A. Van Ham-Meert (University of Leuven)The role of Sr isotopic analysis for dendroprovancing – pitfalls and possibilities

Dendrochronological analyses are a powerful tool for dating material when appropriate reference chronologies are available. Such chronologies are species-specific and are geographically bound: cedar tree-ring sequences from Lebanon, cannot be compared with Baltic oak chronologies. Different species and taxa behave differently, their tree-ring widths, speed of growth and responses to environmental strain are different. Two trees from the same species growing in different locations, subjected to a different climate, will also exhibit a different tree-ring pattern. This is the basis for using tree-ring analysis for dendroprovenancing. One of the challenges in this field of research is to link reference chronologies which are often site-specific (i.e. linked to the location where the finished wood was used), to the original place of growth of the trees. This is where an external property, linking the trees to their place of growth can complement the dendrological evidence. The Sr isotopic composition of trees is one such property. In this lecture we will explore how Sr isotopic analysis of wooden objects can contribute to their provenance, how dendrological and isotopic evidence can complement each other, but also look at sources of contamination and cases where isotopic analysis is impossible or can lead to erroneous conclusions. Case studies illustrating both aspects will be discussed. During this talk an effort will be made to sensitize everyone to the precautions necessary before applying scientific analysis to archaeological materials. Not simply for material culture concerns, but also to think through whether an analysis will yield more (useful) information and/or what the limits are of the particular technique all of which are of primordial concern when designing a project. T. O’Connell (University of Cambridge) – Isotopic studies in archaeology - case studies


- Dr T. O’Connell (University of Cambridge)Isotopic studies in archaeology - case studies 


Tuesday 19th


-  Professor M. Martinon-Torrres (University of Cambridge)Gold as a material: an introduction

The allure of gold is widespread among archaeologists and the public alike. It is rare, shiny, and enigmatic, and it has been shown to play important economic and symbolic roles cross-culturally. However, we would be wrong to think that the appreciation of gold is universal, and that those who have used gold did so for the same reasons, or in the same way. Comparative archaeological science can help disentangle some of these interesting dimensions.
In this introductory session, we will outline geochemical and materials science perspectives on gold, trying to understand the key factors that make it such a peculiar metal. We will also summarise important aspects of its extractive technology, and common scientific approaches to archaeological goldwork. Some of the questions we will consider include: the identification of placer vs smelted gold; gold alloys and their changing properties; metallography and chemical analyses of goldwork; challenges of gold sourcing.


- Professor M. Martinon-Torres (University of Cambridge)Comparative approaches to the technology, use and value of gold

This session will focus on comparative case studies, illustrating how archaeological science reveals the multiple ways in which gold was obtained, shaped, exchanged and made meaningful in different contexts. In addition to discussing different archaeological questions and useful concepts that can be approached through the study of gold, we will also demonstrate practical applications of the chemical analysis of gold artefacts (including pXRF), microscopy and microanalysis, as well as the potential of legacy data.

Specific examples to be discussed will vary depending on the students’ interests. Some of the options on offer may include: lost-wax casting and Muisca votive offerings from Colombia; collective manufacture, fragmentation and deposition of goldwork in Early Bronze Age Crete; gilding and life-histories of Nahuange ornaments from Colombia; legacy data analysis of Bronze and Iron Age goldwork from Iberia; the trade of gold across the Sahara in the pre-Islamic period; patterns in the composition of Bronze Age Egyptian jewellery; Great Zimbabwe gold and Indian Ocean globalisation; the late arrival of gold in China.


- Dr. M. Georgakopoulou (The Cyprus Institute – STARC)Prehistoric extractive metallurgy and metalworking: Case studies from the EBA Aegean

Archaeometallurgy, the study of ancient metals with the application of scientific techniques, aims at unravelling how metals were produced, worked, used, and circulated in antiquity and in turn how people engaged with the material, restricted or transmitted technical knowledge, and interacted through trade and exchange. Beyond the artefacts themselves, the wide range of associated remains of metallurgical activities, preserved and recovered archaeologically, are a valuable asset in the field of archaeometallurgy, offering direct insight into the full operational sequence of metal artefact production in its cultural and natural environment. This session introduces some of the main questions addressed through the study of ancient metallurgy, as well as the materials and methods used, using case studies from the Early Bronze Age Aegean.


- Professor V. Kassianidou (University of Cyprus)Revealing the long history of copper production in Cyprus – fieldwork/lab work/archival research

Cyprus holds some of the richest copper ore deposits per surface area in the world and was one of the most important copper sources throughout Antiquity. By the first century AD, when Pliny the Elder wrote his multi-volume treatise Natural History, copper from Cyprus was so well known in the Roman Empire, that the ancient author assumed it was discovered there. Eventually the island came to give the metal its latin name – cuprum. The remains of the ancient copper mines and smelting workshops, spread around the Troodos mountains, attracted the interest of modern prospectors already from the beginning of the 20th century. Thus, after a gap of more than 1000 years, the modern copper mining industry was launched.

At the same time archaeologists and archaeometallurgists started to study these remains revealing the history of copper production on the island. The aim of this course is to present the history of metallurgy on the island of copper and the results of these studies which combined intensive surveys, excavations, and extensive analytical programs. The objective of the course is to use Cyprus as an example to introduce students to the methodology of recording and interpreting archaeometallurgical remains but also other means of information such as archives.


Wednesday 20th


- Dr D. Fuks (University of Cambridge)Multi-scalar archaeobotanical reconstruction of ancient plant economy: a case study from the Late Antique Negev Highlands


This lecture presents a multi-scalar approach to agricultural change, employing a modified Braudelian classification of time at which archaeobotany informs on agricultural systems. Plant remains from rubbish middens at mid-first millennium CE sites in Israel’s Negev Highland desert provide the case study:

(1) Long-term, millennial-scale influence of crop diffusion is attested by qualitative changes in crop baskets. This includes early evidence for eggplant introduction in the Levant, supporting the Islamic Green Revolution thesis. Yet the full plant assemblage suggests a greater role for Roman agricultural diffusion, which appears as a peak period of post-Neolithic, pre-modern crop diffusion in southwest Asia.

(2) Medium-term, decadal-centennial economic trends are reconstructed using quantitative changes in key crops. These reveal the rise and fall of commercial viticulture in the Negev Highlands centered on the mid-6th century CE, in tandem with ceramic evidence for changing involvement in Mediterranean trade. This exemplifies a globalizing ancient economy’s vulnerability to external shocks like plague and climate change.

(3) Sub-annual seasonal rhythms of ancient agropastoral activity are encapsulated in plant remains within herbivore dung pellets. A multi-proxy archaeobotanical study of pellets’ seed/fruit, phytolith and pollen remains demonstrates this approach’s potential for reconstructing ancient agropastoral seasonality, mobility, and landscapes.

We will close by considering how this multi-scalar approach adds depth and dimension to reconstructing ancient agricultural systems, offering broader and more nuanced understandings of agricultural expansion, diversification and sustainability.


-  Dr A. Hadjikoumis (The Cyprus Institute – STARC)Overview of zooarchaeology in the eastern Mediterranean and two case studies: caprine management in Cyprus and cynophagy in Greece.

The first part of this presentation consists of a brief overview of what zooarchaeology is and an account of its current state of affairs in the eastern Mediterranean region. The region has been at the epicentre of research interest since the early days of modern (and scientifically sound) zooarchaeology. There has always been a vast gap between the volume of zooarchaeological research conducted in the region and the institutional presence of zooarchaeology as an archaeological sub-discipline, which is currently being bridged.

The second, and largest, part of the presentation focuses on two specific case studies. The first one focuses on sheep and goat management in prehistoric Cyprus and their diachronic economic and social significance. The second case study concerns a unique so far case of dog consumption in Early Bronze Age Greece.


- Dr J.J. García-Granero (Spanish National Research Council) – Starch grain and phytolith analyses in archaeology

Past human societies used plants and plant-based artefacts for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to food, building material and fuel. Microscopic plant remains such as starch grains and phytoliths provide direct information of past plant use strategies, often highlighting the presence of plants or plant parts not commonly preserved in the macrobotanical record (e.g., soft plant parts such as leaves). Starch is the most common carbohydrate in human diets. Starch grains are produced in edible plant parts (seeds, fruits, underground storage organs, etc.) and are usually regarded as a direct evidence of the consumption of starchy plants. On the other hand, phyoliths are silica particles that form within and between plant cells and are liberated when plants die and decay. Phytoliths are often produced in aerial plant structures (leaves, culms, inflorescences, etc.) and often reflect the presence of non-edible plant parts, but they are also found in some underground storage organs, seeds and fruits.


- Dr E. Margaritis (The Cyprus Institute – STARC) Integrating excavation and archaeological science: the case of EBA Keros in the Cyclades

New excavations on Dhaskalio (2016-2018), west of Keros in the Small Cyclades, have investigated the site’s rapid expansion in the mid-third millennium BCE, evidence for intensification and extensification in the subsistence base, the apparent architectural monumentality of the site, and centralisation of resources and practices.

An extensive and monumental construction programme turned the rocky islet into an almost completely overbuilt area. Planning and ambition are evident in all areas excavated, with a system of drainage channels underpinning an architectural scheme dependent on massive terraces to create flat spaces for dense structures made of marble imported from Naxos, 10 km distant. All other materials were also imported to the site, ranging from pottery to everyday artefacts and food. Extensive analyses of artefactual and environmental data are currently underway in order to determine the everyday life of a site which may not have been a simple settlement.

The excavations and the post-excavation work now underway demonstrate the antecedents of urbanisation that can now clearly be discerned at Dhaskalio: a rapid expansion, coupled with centralisation of resources, skills and persons, planned monumental architecture, and changes in the subsistence base, all drawing in people and resources in a wide network stretching beyond the Cyclades. Given the importance of the site and its analysis, it was important to have a detailed and integrated excavation, recovery, recording and analytical strategy from the start. The excavation was conducted using a detailed, all-digital recording system, with recovery protocols for samples and micro-artefacts on an extensive scale. This presentation will focus on the analytical techniques employed in order to decipher the complicated excavation record of Dhaskalio. Evidence from the environmental studies, ground stone tools analysis, metallurgy, micromorphology and architecture will be presented for the interpretation of the site, emphasising the importance of an integrated approach.



Thursday 21st


- Professor Th. Rehren (The Cyprus Institute – STARC)Late Bronze Age glass in the EMME region.

The Late Bronze Age saw a thriving international community of elite exchange systems and cultural interaction, as well as intense economic, political and military competition over the Levant and adjacent regions. Glass played a highly visual role in the artistic expression of the time, adding dazzling colours to an otherwise much more drab environment. This lecture will look at the production and distribution of this artificial material emulating precious exotic stones such as lapis lazuli, amethyst, obsidian and others, from an Egyptian perspective. We will explore two complementary aspects: firstly, the technical production and analytical investigation of LBA glass, and secondly discuss the seemingly contradictory evidence for the long-distance exchange of glass based on various sources, ranging from temple dedications, diplomatic correspondence, and archaeological excavations to trace element analysis and linguistics.


- Dr A. Oikonomou (The Cyprus Institute – STARC)Cyprus in the center of glass distribution: new analytical data

Arguably, glass is an artificial material that needed the greatest amount of technical know-how to produce it of any other inorganic ancient material in antiquity. Mixing of specific ingredients/raw materials and very sophisticated control of pyrotechnology produces a material having unique properties, such as opacity, translucency and transparency, while it can be coloured with bright hues and can reflect/refract the light.

During the early 1st millennium CE with the invention of glass blowing glass industry resulted in a fundamentally new role of glass and slowly developed a more functional character. Glass was produced in massive quantities and was distributed widely in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (EMME) region.

In this lecture we will examine and present an outline of this major industry across the EMME with a special focus on Cyprus during the early Byzantine-Late Antique period. We will see how archaeological sciences contribute to broaden our understanding on how glass production and distribution was organised. For this, results of an ongoing project on finds related to glass industry from Amathus / Limassol will be presented and interpreted in comparison with other data from Cyprus and the wider EMME region.


- Dr M. Menu (The Cyprus Institute – STARC)Analysis of prehistoric art

Palaeolithic art can only be interpreted if we take into account the techniques that are necessary to its realisation. Palaeolithic art comprises cave paintings and mobiliary objects, stone, bone artefacts, carved, engraved and painted. Two major colours were available: black and red, the various pigments are prepared and associated with other ingredients following specific recipes. While studying the different materials, their origin, their transformation, their elaboration, examining the different tools to carve, to draw, to paint, we are able to define the specific “chaîne-opératoire” for the realisation and the understanding of the most ancient art what had the longer history.


- Dr A. Cortell (University of Cambridge)Tactical simulation and Agent-Based modelling to understand the past

One of the key challenges posed within archaeological research resides in the problems of archaeological data. Its nature, the fact that it is often biased or without possibilities for effective random sampling, and always incomplete, presents major analytical challenges from a quantitative perspective. If our inference capacity can only be as good as our data, how good is, then, our inference capacity?

This is not a new problem within archaeological research, and many attempts have been made to try to develop techniques which can mitigate the impact of scarce data on hypothesis building. These innovative methods have known an exponential increase through the generalisation of more sophisticated quantitative and computational techniques which, in turn, rely in the increase of computational power during the past years.

In this session we will focus on tactical simulation and agent-based modelling. Agent-based modelling is an inferential technique which has been in use for some time in Archaeology and other Social Sciences and which relies on simulation to try and test different theoretical options. In essence, it consists of the creation of a virtual behavioural model with specific rules, known to the researcher, from which different hypotheses can be validated. Here, we will show implementation rules for simple models, while adding case studies for more complex ones, in order to provide a solid basis from which to grow and advance in this technique.


Friday 22nd 


- Dr M. Gkouma (The Cyprus Institute – STARC)How are archaeological sites formed? Applications of soil micromorphology to understanding site formation processes

In recent years, the application of micromorphology to the study of archaeological soils and sediments has significantly increased our knowledge on site formation processes, by allowing the high-resolution analysis of contextual relationships between sediments, artefacts and bioarchaeological remains. The overall objective of the application of micromorphology in archaeological sites is to examine the archaeological record on the microscale, i.e., the scale at which human activities and natural processes often occur. These subtle episodes may be invisible to the naked eye but can be identified clearly under the microscope. This lecture will address how micromorphology has contributed to the identification and interpretation of the natural and anthropogenic events, which have affected an archaeological site before, during, and after its occupation. Examples will be drawn from core domestic and non-domestic sites of the Aegean and Cyprus in different sociocultural and environmental contexts.


- Dr E. Nikita (The Cyprus Institute – STARC)EMME bioarchaeology: exploring mobility, diet and pathology from prehistory to Medieval times

This lecture will briefly outline recent and ongoing human osteoarchaeology projects by members of the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Centre (STARC) of the Cyprus Institute. The projects have been selected to cover diverse aspects of the population history in Cyprus and the broader EMME, such as human mobility, kinship, diet, stress and pathology. After a brief presentation of the skeletal methods adopted in each case, emphasis will be placed on the interpretation of the results in their historical and cultural context, highlighting the importance of adopting a biocultural approach in osteoarchaeological studies. A number of important initiatives aimed at promoting human osteoarchaeology in the region will also be briefly presented, and cover open access best practice guides, public outreach materials and web applications.


- Dr G. Artopoulos, N. Louca, M. Rafat-Saleh (The Cyprus Institute – STARC)Co-creating Immersive Visualisations of Archaeological Sites: Khirokitia VR

The use of immersion and virtual reality in archaeology is becoming ever more popular due to the latest developments in interaction technologies with regards to the accessibility, accuracy and reliability of digital interfaces. There are many advantages of using this technology to interpret archaeological finds and chronological transformations of sites and monuments, as well as to engage the public in educational activities. This presentation will focus on the considerations, requirements and practical challenges of big data collection, processing, management and interactive visualisation, as well as the workflows involved in the co-creation of an interactive experience of the Neolithic settlement of Khirokitia (Choirokoitia) in Cyprus together with the excavator of the site. The archaeological site of Khirokitia is a UNESCO World Heritage site excavated and studied in a series of campaigns from the 1930s onwards, most recently by the French Archaeological Mission in Cyprus, beginning in the 1970). It is dated between the 7th and the 5th millennium BC, in which many phases of construction can be distinguished. For the present work we have focused on the stratigraphy of levels C1 to B1.

Importantly for the field of visualisation, in the past, most research aimed for moderated visual complexity and richness due to limitations in visualisation capacity of the software and projection technology. This compromise of producing good enough visualisations was further supported, and in result established, by the epistemological considerations of archaeologists and humanities scholars regarding the representation of uncertainty (Kensek 2007). Breaking away from these limitations, the presentation will focus on the novel capacities of state-of-the-art digital tools in real time photorealistic visualisation of 3D spatial data for the needs of Virtual Reality immersive experiences.

Kensek, Karen (2007). Survey of Methods for Showing Missing Data, Multiple Alternatives, and Uncertainty in Reconstructions. In CSA Newsletter, vol. XIX (3).


- L. Bonner (University of Cambridge)'You do what?': Communicating Your Research to the Public

It is now more important than ever for researchers to be able to communicate with non-specialist audiences, but presenting complex, and sometimes controversial, topics in an engaging and accessible way to people outside of the field can be difficult. Outreach, widening participation, citizen science, collaborative research, community engagement, sci comm….these various types of public engagement have different approaches and processes (and pitfalls!), but one thing they all have in common is an aspiration to better connect research with wider society. This interactive talk will explore some of these methods, introduce tools, tips and resources to support your future engagement work and highlight specific issues surrounding archaeological science.