Location: Astypalaia, Greece
The field school takes place on Astypalaia, a small, beautiful island in the Aegean Sea and part of the Dodecanese island group in Greece. It is based on a unique archaeological site – the largest ancient children’s cemetery in the world, with at least 3400 children’s burials. In the field laboratory overlooking the sea, students learn the specialist skills required to excavate, record, identify, conserve, measure and catalogue the tiny bones and teeth of young children. This is one of the few sites in the world where children’s remains are abundant enough to provide such experience. Everyone carries out all the tasks required for each burial.
The children’s cemetery is just below the modern town, which is on the site of the ancient Classical city of Astypalaia. Almost all the burials are in pots, mostly large amphorae previously used to transport the goods traded by the city. Their form suggests that they came from all over the Aegean between around 750 B.C. and A.D. 100. The Field School is taught within a long-term bioanthropology project involving collaboration between the Ephorate of Antiquities of the Dodecanese (part of the Ministry of Culture of Greece) and Prof. Simon Hillson of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London.
The 2019 field school begins on Sunday July 1 and we will work six days per week until Friday August 3. All teaching takes place in the laboratory. The first week will be spent on intensive training in the methods required. For the remainder of the time, students build their experience through supervised work in the laboratory and learn to place the project in its wider context through discussions and lectures. We follow the local working day, which is governed by the heat: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the laboratory (including short breaks for breakfast and lunch). Everyone lives in basic but comfortable studio style accommodation and the evening meal is served in the yard area outside. It is a thirty minute walk uphill to work each morning – so we leave the studios at 6.30 a.m. – and the same walk but downhill on the way home at 3 p.m.
Period(s) of Occupation: Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic. Most burials are 600 to 400 B.C.
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 5 weeks
Room and Board Arrangements
Students share rooms in pleasant studio style accommodation, 3-4 students per room. Each room has a bathroom with shower/toilet/basin and kitchen area with sink/fridge/hotplate. All rooms have air conditioning. The studios each have a terrace or balcony and the whole block is set in a garden space. The studios are 5 minutes walk from a beach, with swimming, cafes, restaurants and supermarkets.
We walk to the laboratory for work each day. That is 30 minutes walk uphill to the town each morning and down again in the afternoon. It is a beautiful walk and not difficult, but students do need to be comfortable about walking each day.
Food is provided each working day - that is, 6 days per week. Breakfast and lunch are provided at the laboratory. Breakfast includes cereals, yoghurt, fruit, toast, cheese, cooked meat, honey, nutella etc. Lunch alternates between sandwiches, traditional Greek pies, kebab/souvlaki and pizza, and there is always fruit and salad. A cooked evening meal is provided by a local restaurant in the garden area of the studio accommodation. One day per week we have a meal in a restaurant. Both mixed diet and vegetarian options are offered. If you have particular dietary requirements, please email to check that we can provide them.
Academic CreditNumber of credits offered: none
Hillson, S.W. (2007). The World's Largest Infant Cemetery and its Potential for Studying Growth and Development: the Notia Kylindra Site on the Island of Astypalaia in the Dodecanese. In: Schepartz, L., Bourbou, C. & Fox, S. (Eds), New Directions in the Skeletal Biology of Greece. Occasional Wiener Laboratory Series. American School of Classical Studies at Athens, pp. 137-154.
Scheuer, L. & Black, S. (2004). The Juvenile Skeleton. London: Academic Press.
Whitley, J. (2001). The Archaeology of Ancient Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hillson, S.W. (1996). Dental anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hillson, S.W. (2014). Dental development in human evolution and bioarchaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.