Wiener Laboratory Assists with Analyzing Archaic-Period Cemetery at Phaleron

A leader in archaeological scientific research, the Malcolm H. Wiener Laboratory was recently granted permission to study the cemetery at Phaleron (the old port of Athens). The cemetery is being excavated by Dr. Stella Chrysoulaki, Ephor of Piraeus and Western Attica, and is one of the most significant necropoleis in Attica during the Archaic Period. 

It was used for almost three centuries, from the late 8th to the early 5th century B.C. To date, over 1,500 burials have been recovered, including nearly 400 infant and child inhumations in jars. A team of top bioarchaeologists representing the Wiener Lab and the American School – led by Prof. Jane Buikstra of Arizona State University (a Trustee of the School and a member of the American Academy of Sciences) in collaboration with Dawnie Steadman, Director of the Forensics Laboratory of the University of Tennessee – will undertake managing the study and scientific analysis of the skeletal remains.

The scope and range of the burials are of unparalleled importance for the study of ancient Athens and its port of Phaleron in the Archaic Period. The potential that these burials provide for increasing our understanding of ancient Greek society is significant. 

Questions concerning ancient diet and disease, as well as social and political processes--such as the death penalty, political reforms, and legislation-- can potentially be answered. These answers could then lead to comparative studies that would eventually have global impact.

For further information you can visit the Phaleron Bioarchaeological Project’s webpage here.

Current Research Projects (Wiener Laboratory Fellows and ASCSA Members):
Calla McNamee, Geoarchaeology and Archaeobotany
Wiener Laboratory Postodoctoral Fellow, Dr. Calla McNamee from University of Calgary Canada, is continuing her research on Starches and Grains. Calla has sampled groundstone artifacts from a number of sites including Mitrou, Tsoungiza, Tiryns, and Pylos, in order to reconstruct staple subsistence practices from the Final Neolithic through the early Iron Age, a period that encompasses the formation and disintegration of Mycenaean State level society.

Peter Tomkins, Archaeological ceramics technology
Wiener Lab Senior fellow, Dr. Peter Tomkins, from the Universities of Sheffield and Leuven, is using thin section petrology and Scanning Electron Microscopy to address questions of technology and provenance relating to the Final Neolithic pottery from Knossos, Crete. This work will contribute to a monograph on the production, exchange and consumption of pottery between the Neolithic and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age.

Eleanna Prevedorou, Human Skeletal Studies
Dr. Eleanna Prevedorou is currently the Wiener Laboratory Postdoctoral Coordinator of the Phaleron Project (See relevant section above, on the Phaleron Bioarchaeological Project). In addition, Dr. Prevedorou continues to expand on her previous bioarchaeological and biogeochemical research on Aegean prehistory, particularly with regard to the Early Bronze Age in Attica. Most recently, she was responsible for the excavation, curation, and analysis of the human burial found in the Ash Altar on Mt. Lykaion.

Petra Vaiglova, Faunal Studies and Archaeobotany
Ms. Petra Vaiglova, pre-doctoral Fellow of the Wiener Lab, from the University of Oxford is employing a multi-isotope framework to assess directly how early farmers managed food production. Petra analyzes carbonized plants, animal/human bones and animal tooth enamel from all the major chronological phases at the Neolithic sites of Halai, Kouphovouno and Makriyalos for understanding the establishment of framing in the prehistoric Aegean.

Kaitlyn Stiles, Human Skeletal Studies
Ms. Kaitlyn Stiles, Associate Fellow of the Wiener Lab, from the University of Tennessee is working on human skeletal material from the Mycenaean chamber tomb cemetery at Golemi Agios Georgios, in central Greece, for which she is compiling the first detailed catalogue of the skeletal material. The results of her study will form the foundation of her PhD Thesis titled “Biosocial Identities in Late Bronze Age Greece,” which explores the expansion and adoption of Mycenaean culture at a non-palatial level in terms of lived experiences and identities expressed through biological markers (both osteological and biochemical), material culture, and cemetery organization.

Maria Liston, Human Skeletal Studies
Elizabeth A. Whitehead Professor Maria Liston is studying the human skeletons from the Early-Middle Byzantine cemetery on the Ismenion Hill in Thebes.  These skeletons provide the opportunity to examine the demography, social dimensions of mortuary practice, and health status of a town from a time period that has been rarely studied until recently. In particular, this project should reveal new information on chronic and epidemic diseases through the study of both skeletal lesions and pathogen DNA. 

Floyd McCoy, Geoarchaeology
Floyd W. McCoy is Professor of Geology, Geophysics and Oceanography at the University of Hawaii- WCC and Senior Visiting Associate of the ASCSA. He is continuing geoarchaeological research at Choiromandres, Chryssi Island, Gournia, Mochlos, Papadiokampos, Pelekita Cave, & Pseira, on Eastern Crete; modelling the generation and impact on Crete by tsunami generated during the LBA eruption of Thera; preservation/destruction of Akrotiri by volcanism; recreating the LBA pre-eruption landscape of Thera; and, abrupt climate change as a factor in cultural changes during the Bronze Age.

Ioanna Moutafi, Human Skeletal Studies
Dr. Ioanna Moutafi from the University of Sheffield is currently a Senior Visiting Associate Member of the ASCSA, working on the study of human skeletal remains from the Mycenaean cemetery of Ayios Vasilios, Laconia. Her research interests focus on Aegean Prehistory, and especially funerary archaeology and the social dimensions of prehistoric mortuary practices.

Paraskevi Tritsaroli, Human Skeletal Studies
Dr. Paraskevi (Voula) Tritsaroli from the National History Museum in Paris is Senior Visiting Associate Member of the ASCSA and works on skeletal assemblages from LBA Macedonia, Byzantine Epirus and Early Byzantine Arcadia. Her main interest is the contextual investigation of burial practices as mechanism of social differentiation, integration, or adaptation in the Aegean through time.

Marta Lorenzon, Geoarchaeology
Ms. Marta Lorenzon from the University of Edinburgh, and Visiting Student Associate Member of the ASCSA, is working on the Geoarchaelogical analysis of Monastiraki mudbrick architecture. Her research examines how variations in mudbrick raw materials and manufacturing process reflect the technological, practical and social choices of the inhabitants, and how this fits in to wider questions concerning the organization of labor and craft specialization during the Bronze Age of Crete.

Eleni Nodarou, Geoarchaeology and Materials Science
Dr. Eleni Nodarou from INSTAP Study Center for Eastern Crete is participating in various archaeological projects involving analysis of Cretan pottery from the Neolithic to the Byzantine period. Her research focuses on the petrographic analysis of ceramics.

Maria Ntinou, Archaeobotany
Dr. Maria Ntinou, Senior Visiting Associate Member of the ASCSA, is conducting analysis of wood charcoal remains from three of the most important Mesolithic to Paleolithic cave sites in the Argolid: Klissoura, Kephalari and Franchthi caves. The reconstruction of the local vegetation sequences of the area of the caves will provide important information regarding ancient subsistence economies and cultural and population change processes that took place from the Middle Paleolithic to the Mesolithic.ancient subsistence economies and cultural and population change processes that took place from the Middle Paleolithic to the Mesolithic.


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