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Promoting Archaeological Science in the eastern Mediterranean

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Promised (Promoting Archaeological Science in the eastern Mediterranean)

Reporting period: 2018-09-01 to 2019-11-30

Promised aims to improve the research skills and performance of archaeological science faculty at the Cyprus Institute, and the wider national and regional community. The application of scientific methods to archaeology is an important and growing field of archaeological research world-wide, and Cyprus is part of the wider Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region that is particularly rich in archaeological remains. In this context, the Cyprus Institute’s Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center (STARC) is a strategic initiative to develop a centre of excellence in archaeological science in Cyprus. However, traditionally, the more ‘value-adding’ post-excavation research activities related to this archaeological richness take place in countries with more advanced research traditions, primarily in northern and central Europe, which means that those regions have a much stronger research tradition and experience. The project meets the core Twinning objectives by addressing identified challenges in networking and deficiencies in research performance at STARC. Fundamentally, it aims to significantly strengthening research in Archaeological Science through training existing researchers and faculty in advanced research and laboratory methods, and secondly to bring the quality of the CyI Graduate School programmes to the level of similar programmes in the advanced partner institutions. The Archaeological Science research teams at the University of Cambridge and KU Leuven were chosen as recognised leaders in both areas, with complementary strengths in their disciplinary coverage, scientific expertise, and the nature of their doctoral programmes, being based in the Humanities and Natural Sciences, respectively.
Work within the Promised project took place across all six work packages:

WP 1 (Management and Coordination) - underpins the entire operation with a regular pattern of project meetings, accentuated by periods of increased activity around events such as the initial setup, Consortium Agreement and final Grant Agreement negotiations; the public launch; internal budgeting processes; and now the mid-term reporting.

WP 2 (Research Skills Training) focusses on the updating and ‘Europeanisation’ of the CyI doctoral programme in general, and the development of a specific Archaeological Science PhD programme within the CyI Graduate School. Overall, it intends to overhaul the entire life cycle, from recruitment and admissions through delivery and finally examination of candidates, of the existing PhD programme ‘Science and Technology in Cultural Heritage’. As a result, a significantly revised doctoral programme has been submitted for accreditation to the QAACY with a new title of Science and Technology in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (acronym ACH), putting archaeology firmly in the front of the new programme.

WP3 ‘Towards a Community of Practice’ includes all training events based on joint activity, combining social and structured learning with elements of apprenticeship and mentoring. Through short-term staff visits and secondments, shadowing exercises and organisation of conference sessions, this WP links researchers from CyI with their peers at the advanced partner institutions.

Exchange Visits and Mentoring Visits: CyI will provide the opportunity for STARC researchers and CyI administrators to participate in visits to the advanced partner institutions in order to present their work, discuss further directions, and to establish cooperation and partnership. Three exchange visits will be organised per year, one at each partner site. For mentoring of CyI staff, researchers and administrators from the advanced institutions will visit CyI for multiple week mentoring visits in order to provide training to CyI researchers. A minimum of one visit per year by each advanced partner to CyI is foreseen.

Research learning secondments - CyI researchers will spend longer periods at the advanced institutions, in order to be trained in particular research approaches and to be introduced in this particular research environment and network. A minimum of one visit per year by CyI staff to each advanced partner will be organized.

Championing CyI memberships of European academic networks - CyI staff go on short missions to meet with relevant networks, while researchers participate in international conferences/summits.

Proof-of-concept / mini-projects and joint publications - All exchange visits will allow for time and expertise to perform ‘Proof-of-concept’ work on mini-projects which will lead to new research lines and expertise introduced at CyI, and to publications on these research projects in international journals. The outcomes of joint research/mentoring projects will form the highest level of scientific dissemination within the project and are aimed mainly at an academic audience. These are important means to disseminate/transfer the concept of the archaeological science interdisciplinary approach.

The objectives of WP 4, Sharing Best Practice, are for the Promised team to gain experience through joint activities. The flagship activity for this is the annual Summer School, the first of which took place in July 2019 under the title From Natural Resources to Material Culture: Transdisciplinary Approaches in Archaeological Science and provided hands-on experience together with lectures to 12 postgrad students.

WP 5, Outreach and Dissemination, the public-facing work package, ensured that the Promised team members were not only fully committed to communicating science to society, but also raised awareness on archaeology as a discipline and its significance for modern society. Major developments were the development of a detailed Communication Strategy, the participation if a number of outreach activities (national and local Science fairs, conferences), the organisation of an international conference, the organisation of a series of innovative workshops and the publication of academic journals.

WP6 - Ethics requirements runs throughout the project’s duration. The project finalised two key documents by early 2019 and were incorporated in the research protocols of the project
At this stage of the project we anticipate to achieve all milestones and impacts as detailed in the application by the end of the funding period, and to lock in several significant legacy elements of activities continuing well beyond the end date. An example for this, concerning almost all WPs but particularly WP1 (in terms of effort) and WP5 (in terms of outreach and impact exceeding our initial expectations), is the success of ICAS-EMME 2.

WP3 – partners demonstrated practical commitment to between them collaboration beyond the scope of this project by a) submitting an MSCA ITN application and b) developing an online petrography teaching tool.

WP5: The completion and formal publication of standard operating procedures and guides for best practices are contributions to the field that go beyond the project’s life span and were not anticipated in this manner.

Furthermore, we are the first (to our knowledge) Cypriot – based project to actively organise archaeological activities for disables.