Exploring biodistances but always staying close to the Fitch lab
Having spent almost two years at the Fitch lab during the early stages of my academic life, first as a BSA student and then as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow, it is always a great pleasure to return here and find myself among great colleagues and friends.
I recently spent a week at the Fitch Laboratory, where I recorded dental nonmetric traits on two prehistoric Greek assemblages, Kolikrepi, Attica (excavated by Maria Stathi, Ephorate of East Attica), and Schinokapsala, Crete (excavated by Yiannis Papadatos, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens). Dental nonmetric traits are normal variants of the dental morphology, such as an extra cusp or an extra root. What makes them useful in anthropological studies is that their expression is largely controlled genetically, as supported by studies on laboratory mice and macaques as well as based on human population studies. To put it simply, this means that groups of individuals exhibiting the same traits are likely related to each other. Subsequently, the study of nonmetric traits can provide important information on the biodistance of past individuals in the form of intra-cemetery kinship patterns and/or inter-cemetery mobility patterns.
The data collection performed at the Fitch lab is part of a wider project focused on mobility in the prehistoric Aegean, which has received funding from the British School at Athens, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Preliminary results have highlighted the complexity of biodistances and associated human mobility in pre- and proto-palatial Crete (Nikita et al. 2017; Triantaphyllou et al. 2015). However, little is known about mainland Greek mobility patterns, while even more material has recently been excavated in key Cretan sites, necessitating a re-evaluation of biodistances on this island. The cemetery at Kolikrepi, the bioarchaeological analysis of which is currently undertaken by Ms Niki Papakonstantinou, under the supervision of Dr Sevasti Triantaphyllou and Prof. John Bennett, is anticipated to contribute to our existing database of mainland sites, while it is also expected to elucidate kinship patterns in the Mycenaean world. The site of Schinokapsala has been added to the existing database of central and eastern Cretan sites and is expected to contribute to the refinement of the image we have on pre- and protopalatial mobility on the island.
I am looking forward to my next visit!
Efthymia Nikita, Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia.
Nikita E, Triantaphyllou S, Tsipopoulou M, Panagiotopoulos D, Platon L. 2017. Mobility patterns and cultural identities in the Prepalatial and early Protopalatial central and eastern Crete. In: M. Tsipopoulou (ed.) Petras, Siteia: The Pre- and Proto-palatial Cemetery in Context. Acts of a Two-Day Conference Held at the Danish Institute at Athens, 14–15 February 2015. Aarhus: The Danish Institute at Athens and Aarhus University Press; p. 325-340.
Triantaphyllou S, Nikita E, Kador T. 2015. Exploring mobility patterns and biological affinities in the Southern Aegean: first insights from Early Bronze Age Eastern Crete. Annual of the British School at Athens 110: 3-25.