Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MYSOBIO (MYcenaean SOcial BIOarchaeology: Deciphering the interplay of funerary treatment and social dynamics in the Mycenaean period)
Reporting period: 2018-01-15 to 2020-01-14
MYSOBIO unravels the diversity of social responses at death and their mutual relationship with wider socio-political developments, instrumental in the rise and fall of the Mycenaean palaces, one of the first complex societies in Europe. To achieve this, it employs, for the first time, a holistic bioarchaeological approach that integrates up-to-date theoretical reflection in mortuary archaeology with cutting-edge, interdisciplinary scientific advances in the study of collective skeletal assemblages. This methodology brings together traditional archaeology, current mortuary theory, biological anthropology, archaeothanatology and funerary taphonomy, further enhanced by state-of-the-art technological innovations from other scientific fields (social geography, geomatics, forensic sciences, archaeogenetics). Hence, MYSOBIO formulates a new methodological pathway to the social dimensions of prehistoric mortuary assemblages, by creating critical new knowledge in the following key areas: i) social developments in the LBA Aegean; ii) field and lab documentation and analysis of commingled human skeletal assemblages; iii) multi-disciplinary approaches in social bioarchaeology.
All objectives were achieved according to the work packages as outlined in the original proposal. These included setting-up of the project, preparation of initial databases, four fieldtrip to Greece for osteological data collection (mostly undertaken in the Wiener Laboratory for Archaeological Science, American School of Classical Studies at Athens), training in GIS, digital techniques and statistics, fieldtrips in Greece for a-DNA lab training in the Centre for Geogenetics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and synthetic data processing and interpretation. Limited teaching was also undertaken during the action.
Five scientific joint publications, related to side projects, were published during the action or are now in press (all peer-reviewed; two articles in journals and three in conference proceedings). Three major peer-reviewed articles on key results of the action will be submitted and published within 2020. Finally, a monograph related to the project is accepted for publication in 2020 by Oxbow Books. Wide dissemination and communication of the results was undertaken throughout the fellowship, with various activities presented in several academic venues worldwide and in various events addressed to the public. These included:
• Presentations at 8 international conferences
• Participation in 3 international and U.K. workshops
• 6 invited research talks and seminars
• Co-organisation of 3 conference sessions or workshops
• Participation in various outreach activities
The wide communication of the project’s results to different audiences (both scientific and the public) ensured a significant inter-sector impact, bridging the gap between the sciences and the humanities. Bringing together specialists from different fields, MYSOBIO set the basis for future scientific collaborations between various European academic institutions, with a great potential for EU research excellence in the years to come. The results of the progress were widely disseminated both within and beyond Europe. Promotion of this research will continue after the end of the action, as major outcomes of the project will be published in the coming months. The enthusiastic response of the public to the communication events associated with the project illustrates how deeply bioarchaeology can affect a modern audience. Building on the fascination that human skeletal remains exert on the public, MYSOBIO offered an alternative biosocial approach to ancient death, focusing on ritual, beliefs, and social relationships rather than monumentality alone. This approach will have a strong impact on heritage development, initiating change in the way we manage mortuary sites and communicate archaeological finds to the public.