Agriculture and Subsistence Practices at the Dawn of Urbanisation of Europe: The Cyclades in the Early Bronze Age
During her fellowship, Dr. Margaritis will focus on the study of the origins of the complex societies of the Bronze Age, by analyzing agricultural practices, crop husbandry and land use of the period, including the cultivation of new cash crops such as olive and grape, using environmental data that has been recovered by the Keros excavation research program in the Aegean, undertaken by the University of Cambridge.
The unique relevance of Keros to the research question lies in its state of preservation and in its nature. It is the only site in this category that did not continue in use after the third millennium, leading to its exceptionally well-preserved archaeological resource. Moreover, the site’s hinterland lies on an uninhabited island which has not been subject to the devastating superficial changes wrought in most areas by modern, mechanized farming, or recent urban expansion. The site demonstrates all the characteristics of incipient urbanism, and so is, therefore, the ideal test case to answer these crucial questions in the development of Mediterranean society. Furthermore, the data from Keros have been obtained using very intensive recovery protocols, making Keros one of the best-sampled excavations in the region.
The research focuses on a period and area where archaeobotanical studies have not previously been well-advanced. Early Bronze sites have been the focus of research on the mainland, in the northern Aegean at sites such as Thermi and the Heraion on Samos, and recently on Crete
In addition, a significant quantity of olive stones and grape pips has been recovered at Dhaskalio. This, therefore, allows for the first time the use of geometric morphometric analysis on archaeobotanical remains of olive and grape from the Cyclades. This method will be used to identify different varieties of grapes and olives and their possible affiliation with modern cultivars, and will also determine whether the plants were wild or cultivated, providing new and extensive data relevant to one of the most debated questions in Aegean prehistory, concerning the date of the domestication of the olive and vine.
Currently, Dr. Margaritis is preparing an article about vine cultivation in the 3rd millennium Aegean.
Dr. Margaritis is a leading expert in archaeobotanical research in the eastern Mediterranean and the only archaeobotanist based in Cyprus, where she is an assistant professor at the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center of the Cyprus Institute. Her education (BA, University of Athens; MSc, University of Sheffield and Ph.D., University of Cambridge) focused on environmental archaeology and archaeobotany and she has carried out numerous post-doctoral projects on multiple facets of the human-environment relationship mainly in the geographical area of the project (i.e. the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean regions). Throughout her long experience as an archaeobotanist, she has managed the archaeobotanical studies of numerous research projects, several of which are still actively running in Cyprus. She has generated a very large data set with research themes on Minoan and Mycenaean Agriculture, and Early Bronze Age farming. Her work also focuses on the Classical economy, and she has contributed significantly to the current novel approach that views ritualistic behavior as a proxy to many other aspects of ancient societies. Besides carrying out cutting-edge research, Dr. Margaritis has ample experience in working within international teams, with other specialists and post-graduate and post-doctoral researchers, and she has built and led many research teams in various projects. Currently, she is the Assistant Director of the Cambridge Keros Project, one of the most multidisciplinary projects in the eastern Mediterranean. She is in charge of all environmental studies of the project and has also organized several field schools, both at Keros and at the Cyprus Institute to train the next generation of archaeologists in Greece and Cyprus. Dr. Margaritis’ international recognition is also reflected in her capacity as a reviewer for peer-reviewed journals such as Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, Journal of Archaeological Science and American Journal of Archaeology. Her publication record includes numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and chapters in collected volumes. She has been invited to many conferences and workshops and she has organized a number of conferences focusing on archaeological science.