Featured work (2017): Foodways in ancient Olynthos: Agricultural Practices, Diet and Land Use in Classical Greece

The new excavation project at Olynthos uses inter and multidisciplinary approaches to interpret the domestic and social life of an urban centre of the Classical period and its chora. The project started in 2014 under the direction of the Greek Archaeological Service in collaboration with the Universities of Liverpool and Michigan and under the auspices of the British School at Athens. The archaeobotanical work is used as a proxy in order to document contextualised and situated activities of farming, food processing, production and disposal of food at Olynthos.

The archaeobotanical data from Olynthos, retrieved through a detailed sampling protocol, comes as an invaluable addition to the very limited archaeobotanical data deriving from the Classical period thus far, not only from Macedonia but the whole of Greece. This dataset will not only demonstrate the essential value of interpretative techniques such as archaeobotanical analysis in the study of archaeological contexts, but it will also emphasize that in the absence of such work, knowledge of significant aspects of daily life would have been permanently lost.

The work has focused on the range of cultivated and wild plants used at the site, detecting any variation in the species and dietary choices between the different buildings and identifying crop-processing procedures and husbandry regimes or the use of specific plants as fuel. The archaeobotanical work also aims to discuss the form and intensity of labour, the risks involved in agricultural production undertaken at Olynthos and whether the production of agricultural products aimed to self-sufficiency or was market oriented.

The support of the Mediterranean Archaeological Fund was used for the travel expenses for the work to be undertaken at the Fitch Laboratory of the British School at Athens, where the material is stored and there are all the necessary equipment and reference collection of the study of the material.

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Taking soil samples from House B at Olynthos. Source: own photo.
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Studying seeds under the microscope. Source: own photo.

For further information, please contact Dr Evi Margaritis (Assistant Professor in Archaeological Science, STARC, The Cyprus Institute) on evimargaritis@gmail.com.


Announcement of the 2018 grants by MAT

The Mediterranean Archaeological Trust (MAT) is pleased to announce that it awarded 22 grants to the following worthy projects in 2018:

  1. A Deposit of Obsidian Nodules in the Protopalatial Palace at Malia (Crete) – Lead Researcher: Dr Maud Devolder. For more information about the project, click here; for more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  2. Defining the Occupation at the hill of Sant’Ippolito (Sicily) during the Bronze Age; Integrating Archeometric Analyses with New Radiocarbon Dates – Lead Researcher: Mr Gianpiero Caso.
  3. Foodways in Ancient Olynthos: Agricultural Practices, Diet and Land Use in Classical Greece – Lead Researcher: Dr Evi Margaritis.
  4. Grinding Implements from the Earliest Farming Communities in Greece: The Assemblage of the Neolithic Site of Pontokomi-Souloukia – Lead Researcher: Dr Anna Stroulia.
  5. Knossos Neolithic Publication Project (KNPP) – Lead Researcher: Dr Valasia Isaakidou.
  6. Long Time, No See: Land Reclamation and the Cultural Record of Central-Western Thessaly, Central Greece (LTNS) – Lead Researcher: Dr Athanasia Krahtopoulou. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here or here.
  7. Middle Stone Age Behavioural Diversity along the South-East Mediterranean Littoral: Evidence from Excavations at Haua Fteah Cave in Libya – Lead Researcher: Dr Sacha Claire Jones. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  8. Preparation of publication of ‘The National Archaeological Museum, Athens: Finds from the 1896 – 9 Excavations at Phylakopi, Melos, Cyclades, Greece’ – Lead Researcher: Dr Robin Barber.
  9. Revealing the Potters of Petsas House, Mycenae – Lead Researcher: Dr Lynne Kvapil.
  10. Socio-political Complexity in Sicilian Early Bronze Age: The Case Study of Castelluccio (3rd Millennium BC) – Lead Researcher: Ms Anita Crispino. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  11. Staters and Obols of Zakynthos – A General Overview of the Most Important Coin Collections – Lead Researcher: Ms Anne Versloot. For more information about the project, click here.
  12. The Archaic Cemetery of Motya. Vol. 1. Final Report of five excavation seasons (2013-17) undertaken by the University of Palermo expedition on the Island of San Pantaleo, Marsala (Sicily) – Lead Researcher: Dr Paola Sconzo. For more information about the project, click here; and for more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  13. The Cave of Euripides in Salamis: The Mycenaean Period – Lead Researcher: Dr Cristina Marabea. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  14. The Early Bronze Age Ceramic Roofing Tiles from Zygouries, Greece – Lead Researcher: Dr Kyle Jazwa. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  15. The Early Bronze Age Ground Stone Tool Assemblage of Mishmar Ha’emeq, Jeezrael Valley, Israel – Lead Researcher: Dr Danny Rosenberg.
  16. The First Mycenaeans in South Central Crete: Highlighting The Necropolis at Kalyvia Near Phaistos – Lead Researcher: Dr Santo Privitera.
  17. The Middle and Late Bronze Age Pottery from the Settlement and the Tombs on the Acropolis of Thorikos (Excavations of Jean Servais): Study and Final Publication of the Finds – Lead Researcher: Dr Margarita Nazou. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.
  18. The Middle Bronze Age at Zincirli Höyük (Turkey): Study and Publication of the Ceramic Assemblage from Area 2 – Lead Researcher: Dr Sebastiano Soldi. For more information about the project, click here, and for more information about the Lead Researcher, click here or here.
  19. The North Cemetery at Ayios Vasilios, Laconia: The History of an Early Mycenaean Cemetery – Lead Researcher: Dr Vasco Hachtmann.
  20. The Zooarchaeological Material of Thorikos Mine 3 – Lead Researcher: Dr Stefania Michalopoulou.
  21. Third Season of Study of the Wall Paintings from Mycenaean Thebes (1998 excavations) – Lead Researcher: Mr Nikos Sepetzoglou.
  22. Utilization of Living Space in Early Bronze Age Sicily: Results of an Interdisciplinary Study in Santa Febronia (Italy) – Lead Researcher: Dr Roberta Mentesana. For more information about the Lead Researcher, click here.

Congratulations to all our grantees.

Featured work (2017): Study and publication of wall paintings from Mycenaean Thebes (1998 excavations)

Our aim is to study and publish a unique assemblage of wall paintings from Mycenaean Thebes (Spourlis Plot). Our work began in 2016 and out of the 3055 fragments we have been able to identify chariots with female charioteers, female and male individuals, architectural features and lengthy decorative bands and zones. Their study will throw new light to the Mycenaean painting and the Palatial site of Thebes.

Due to the limited corpus of Mycenaean wall paintings from palatial Thebes, it is the first time we may draw conclusions to the local iconographic ‘repertoire of power’, in close parallels with the near-by Orchomenos and even the site of Tiryns at Argolid. Our work, apart from throwing light to the art of the brush of the Mycenaean painter, will allow us to comment on the political and economic aspects of the evidently magnificent, yet hidden and understudied due to modern building construction, Mycenaean Thebes.

The generous funding from MAT allowed our team to work on the fragments at the premises of the Thebes Museum by covering transportation and subsistence costs, to work on them digitally at Athens and finally to create the suggested reconstruction drawings. Without the grant, the fragments would be only partially studied to this day.

Our workbench at Thebes Museum laboratory (photo: Angelos Papadopoulos).
One of the chariots (suggested reconstruction drawing: Nikos Sepetzoglou, 2017)

For further information, please contact the visual artist on the project, Mr Nikos Sepetzoglou, at nsepetzoglou@yahoo.gr. The Project Director was Dr Elena Kountouri and Dr Angelos Papadopoulos provided archaeological expertise.

Featured work (2017): Socio-political complexity in Sicilian Early Bronze Age

Socio-political complexity in Sicilian Early Bronze Age: the case study of Castelluccio (3rd millennium BC)

Castelluccio (Noto, Siracusa, Sicily) is the eponymous site of the Sicilian Early Bronze Age culture. The cultural assemblage found during the excavations, carried out by Paolo Orsi on the necropolis in 1890, has become fundamental for the interpretation of this period of prehistory in Sicily. The exploration guided by Giuseppe Voza in 1992 brought to the discovery of the settlement itself.

The project aims to the publication of the artifacts in order to ascertain the emergence of a socio-political complexity in the native communities. In Castelluccio there certainly was a sort of hierarchical structure comparable to the emerging chiefdoms.

Hut 8 shows such a complex plan a uncommon dimensions to be considered as gathering place with either religious function or purposes related to craftsmanship. Furthermore, the group of the vessels found in Hut 2 suggest a well-structured economic systems based on communal practices. The occurrence of exotic items could indicate the presence of “aggrandizer individuals” who used them to display a superior rank.

MAT funding has been very important, allowing us to carry out the archaeometric analyses, to improve the chronology of the site through a series of radiocarbon datings, to study the bioarchaeological remains and to restore some of the most important artifacts brought to light during the excavations.

Castelluccio (Noto, SR): the pithos after the restoration work (After Crispino 2016)
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Castelluccio (Noto Siracusa, Sicily) Hut. N. 8 (After Voza 1999)

For further information, please contact Dr Anita Crispino at anitacri1@virgilio.it.


Crispino A. (2016) – Castelluccio (Noto). Nuovi dati dall’abitato. Istituto Italiano di preistoria e protostoria notiziario di preistoria e protostoria -4.iii Neolitico ed età dei Metalli Sardegna e Sicilia, 84-86.

Voza G. (1999) – Nel segno dell’antico. Archeologia nel territorio di Siracusa. Palermo: Arnaldo Lombardi Editore.

Featured work (2017): The Analysis and Publication of the Middle Bronze Age Phase from Lerna

Lerna, on the shore of the Gulf of Argos, is one of the most important prehistoric sites in Greece, having been occupied with few interruptions over a period of some 5,000 years, from the 6th to the 1st millennium B.C. Major excavations, study and meticulous publication have rendered it the undisputed ‘type-site’ for the Early and Middle Bronze Age; however, the key Middle Bronze Age material from this site remains unpublished.

Middle Bronze Age Lerna lay at the forefront of interactions between the Peloponnese, the Cycladic islands, and a newly emergent Minoan civilisation on Crete and its material culture foreshadows many traits of later Mycenaean centres. The site may hold many of the keys to understanding how phenomena like the complex and stratified societies of the Late Bronze Age Mycenaean Greek mainland initially developed, as the site preserves a deeply stratified record of social, economic and technological change over several millennia, unencumbered by later structures.

The generous grant provided by the MAT has allowed for the first comprehensive site plans of Middle Bronze Age Lerna to be produced. While many architectural plans were produced over the course of the initial excavation, no phase-by-phase rendering of the eight key building phases of the Middle Bronze Age settlement at Lerna has ever been produced.

Plan of Middle Bronze Age Lerna showing the first phase of building during the Middle Helladic II period
Composite plan of Middle Bronze Age Lerna showing the three phases of building during the Middle Helladic I period

For further information, please contact Dr Lindsay Spencer at ls720@cam.ac.uk.

Featured work (2017): the materialization of burial ideology in a Minoan community

The materialization of burial ideology in the Minoan community of Porti in the Mesara (Stephanos Xanthoudides’ excavation)

The aim of the project is the preparation of a monograph presenting one of the richest burial assemblages in south-central Crete recovered from the Minoan Tholos Tomb P at Porti (ca. 2700-1700 BC). All finds from the tomb, including human remains, ceramic vessels, obsidian tools, clay figurines, bronze daggers and tools, sealstones and gold jewellery pieces will be published with a theoretically-informed approach.

The study will focus on site-level specifics rather than the macro-scale (Crete/the Mesara valley), in order to overcome past interpretive trends (evolutionism or empirical reductionism and island-wide models). The project’s greatest asset is the interdisciplinary collaborative work which will integrate intra-site analysis with the following scientific methods:

  • Raman spectroscopy on stone artefacts
  • pXRF analysis of metal artefacts
  • osteological study (age, gender, practices of burial deposition)
  • stable isotope analysis (population diet)
  • DNA analysis of human remains combined with radiocarbon dating
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Bronze dagger blade from Porti (Early Minoan period, 3rd millennium B.C.). Drawing by G. Merlatti. © Heraklion Archaeological Museum/ Porti Tholos Project

The generosity of MAT funding expedites this international collaboration of specialists pressing forward the precipice of archaeological methodology. The resulting publication will bring to light the total findings from a nearly century-old excavation.

For further information, please contact Dr Georgia Flouda (Archaeologist, Head of the Department of Prehistoric and Minoan Antiquities, Heraklion Archaeological Museum) on gflouda@gmail.com.


Featured work (2017): The Academy of Plato before Plato

The Academy of Plato before Plato: a contribution to Early Iron Age Attica

The site of the Academy lies in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Athens, only 3 km west of the city centre and belongs to the wider area of Kolonos. Although mostly known for its association with Plato and the foundation of his philosophical school, as reflected on the modern name of the area too activity at the site goes much longer in time. In particular the excavated remains represent the best preserved settlement remains of the Geometric period known from central Athens.

Early Iron Age Academy forms part of the archaeology of early Greece within the broader frame of «Classical Archaeology». The conducted research is however multifold, since it applies both on the architectural remains, the burials of the site and the movable finds related to them, extending to issues on early feasting activities, housing, burial customs and social organisation. The ultimate aim is to offer the best insights possible to the archaeology of a settlement in Athens during the 8th century BC.

The setting up of the monograph on the early archaeology of the site would not be possible without the funding provided by MAT.

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The architectural remains at the Academy, known as the “Sacred House”. Source: After Mazarakis Ainian 1997, fig. 132

Part of the architectural remains at the site after the recent excavation of 2015 (Photo: A. Alexandridou).

For further information, please contact Dr Alexandra Alexandridou at alexandraalexandridou@gmail.com.

Applications for 2018 grants open

The Mediterranean Archaeological Trust (MAT), set up in 1959 for the promotion of the study of archaeology, invites applications for grants, made on a competitive basis, for expenses in 2018-19, in the preparation for final publication of material from archaeological excavation or fieldwork in the Mediterranean world.

To see how to apply, visit Applications.


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Mycenean krater found in Cyprus. Source: Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mycenean_krater.jpg).