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Bioarchaeology

Bioarchaeology, a new research domain focusing on people and their remains, is available in Cyprus through The Cyprus Institute. It concerns itself with the past peoples of Cyprus and the surrounding regions, focusing on health status, diseases, demographic structure, mortality rates, diet, residential mobility, and effects of cultural practices on the body.

The competitive funds awarded for this research domain are a validation of its importance for Cyprus. Collaboration in the field is coupled with cutting edge laboratory analyses (e.g. isotopic analyses for diet and residential mobility, palaeoparasitology) and education through field schools and laboratory training.

bioarchaeology1Recent collaborations with the Department of Antiquities (Cyprus) include analyses of human remains from the finely decorated Larnaca-Liperti sarcophagi (see section on 'Colour'), and Psematismenos-Trelloukkas, the largest Early Bronze Age Cypriot population known to date. Surprisingly to the archaeologists, our results show that the temple-shaped sarcophagus contained the burial of not one, but two individuals, a 20-22-year-old female and a foetus/perinatal infant, allowing new insights into the events preceding the use of these sarcophagi. At Psematismenos-Trelloukkas the human bioarchaeological analyses form a new, unique picture of Early Bronze Age burial practices.

Our MIDAC-OSTA (Migration or Indigenous Development in Ancient Cyprus: Oxygen and Strontium isotope Analyses using mass spectrometry) project uses isotope ratio analysis of dental enamel to explore the hotly debated questions of population mobility in prehistoric Cyprus. The impact of this bioarchaeological research domain is manifold, from creation of crucial knowledge on the past inhabitants of Cyprus and the surrounding region, to capability building on human remains analyses, and from archaeological investigations (e.g. by the Department of Antiquities) to forensic work. Health is a crucial aspect of wellbeing of individuals, populations, and societies - understanding the health and disease history of Cypriot populations benefits society today. Understanding population movements in the past helps to put into context the cultural and genetic variety and richness present in Cyprus today.

Related Projects: STAR-LAB (RPF)
CyI People: K. O. Lorentz
Key Partners: Cyprus Department of Antiquities; Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Isotope Geosciences Laboratory (NIGL), UK; Oriental Institute, University of Chicago (US); University of Cambridge (UK); SUERC (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre) (UK); C2RMF (France)
Selected Publications: Lorentz, K.O. 2011 ‘The human remains’ in G. Georgiou, J.M. Webb and D. Frankel, Psematismenos-Trelloukkas: An Early Bronze Age Cemetery in Cyprus. Nicosia: Department of Antiquities, Cyprus, pp. 313 - 336
Lorentz, K.O. 2011 ‘Cyprus’ in N. Marquez Grant & L. Fibiger (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Archaeological Human Remains and Legislation: An international guide to laws and practice in the excavation and treatment of archaeological human remains. New York: Routledge, pp. 99-112
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