SAS Bulletin

Volume 20   Number 1/2   January /June 1997

The Wiener Laboratory

Contributed by Scott Pike, Acting Director 1995-97

    Since its inauguration on 2 June 1992, the Wiener Laboratory of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens has gained recognition as a promising research facility supporting scholars applying a wide variety of analytical techniques from the natural, physical and biological sciences to archaeology and history. Through fellowships, consultations, lectures, seminars and workshops, the Lab plays an integral role in encouraging more scientific work and enlarging the scholarship base and scope of research in Aegean archaeology by providing resources and opportunities for scholars working in Greece.  In September, Dr. Vanda Vitali became the new Director of the Wiener Laboratory.

    Each year the Wiener Laboratory offers three fellowships to specialists in the fields of human skeletal studies, faunal studies and geoarchaeology. The fellowships are open to scholars with a Ph.D. and those working on a doctoral dissertation; a stipend of approximately $13,000 to $25,000 will be awarded depending on seniority and experience. Applicants must have a well-defined project addressing significant archaeological questions which can be undertaken in the Wiener Laboratory within the academic year. The J. Lawrence Angel Fellowship in Human Skeletal Studies is specifically for the study of human skeletal remains from archaeological contexts in Greece; similarly, the Research Fellowship in Faunal Studies is for the study of faunal remains from archaeological contexts in Greece. The Research Fellowship in Geoarchaeology is for individuals whose projects address significant archaeological questions in areas of study which may include quarried stone, lithics, building materials, ceramics, soil and sediment studies.
    In addition to the proposed research, the Fellow will be expected to contribute to the development of the Labís comparative or other collections, assist with queries from excavators, offer a lecture on the work undertaken while at the Lab, participate in one school trip, and contribute to seminars on aspects of archaeological science as part of the American Schoolís annual curriculum. The deadline for applications for 1998-99 is 5 February 1998; further details are available from the Director at the address below.

Reference Collections
    The Wiener Laboratory houses a growing specialist library and seven developing reference collections, resources that support its membersí research and are available to other interested scholars and excavators.
    The specialist library contains 26 journals and newsletters and over 1,150 books, dissertations and monographs including advanced texts in the fields of faunal, human skeletal and geoarchaeological studies as well as general reference and introductory texts in various areas of archaeology and the natural sciences. The library is intended not only to support the Labís work, but also to serve as a starting point for multidisciplinary research.
    The Labís first reference collection, the Modern Animal Bone Comparative Collection, was initiated in 1992 by Dr. Walter Klippel (University of Tennessee) and Dr. Lynn Snyder (Smithsonian Institution) and was developed by Dr. Yiannis Hamilakis (University of Wales Lampeter), Justine Lev-Tov (University of Tennessee), Deborah Ruscillo (University College London), and Dr. Ekaterina Trantalidou (Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology and Speleology, Greece). This growing collection now has over 150 specimens.
    The Mollusk Study Collection, which contains primary marine mollusk shells found in Aegean archaeological contexts, was started by Michele Miller (Boston University) and will be expanded by 1996-7 Faunal Fellow Deborah Ruscillo (University College London).
    The Lithic Collection contains hand-samples, thin-sections, and a computerized catalogue of over 200 specimens donated to the Lab. Dr. Ruth Siddall (University College London) has curated the collection and provided complete petrographic and hand-sample descriptions for each of the lithic specimens. The collection has grown with the addition of thin-sections, hand-samples and a stable isotope database for Aegean marbles contributed by Dr. Norman Herz (University of Georgia); and will be further expanded by samples of oolithic limestone from Greek and Roman quarries at Corinth from a study by Dr. Chris Hayward (London Natural History Museum); as well as by marble samples from Mount Pentelikon, and other quarry regions, from various studies conducted by Scott Pike (University of Georgia).
    An Anthropological Archive is being created by 1996-1998 J. Lawrence Angel Fellow Anna Lagia (University of Chicago). It will comprise of well-documented human skeletons of known age, sex, occupation, place of birth, death and cause of death. Endorsed by the Department of Human and Animal Physiology of the University of Athens and the Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology and Speleology in Greece, this collection will be invaluable to anthropological and medical research.
    An Ethnobotanical Collection has been initiated by Research Associate Harriet Blitzer as part of her National Geographic Society-sponsored project on the environmental and cultural contexts of olive cultivation and the relationship of olive cultivation to other aspects of Aegean culture. Her contribution of plant and seed samples from wild and domesticated olives, as well as samples of associated flora, will open this collection.
    A Ceramic/Clay, Building Material Collection is in the planning stages with material anticipated from the following projects and researchers: [1] ceramic and raw material samples from a study of ceramic technology at Lerna in the Third Millennium B.C. by Christine Shriner (Indiana University); [2] clay samples from a preliminary petrographic analysis of Epirote coarsewares by Melissa Moore (Boston University); [3] samples from a study of the production and distribution of Canaanite storage jars in the Late Bronze Age East Mediterranean by Michael Sugerman (Harvard University); and [4] lime cement, mortar and concrete samples from Dr. Ruth Siddallís research on building materials at the site of Ancient Corinth.
    A Sediment Collection is also in its planning stage with thin sections and micromorphological descriptions anticipated from the following projects and researchers: [1] a preliminary study of lithostratigraphy and micromorphology of Theopetra cave deposits, Thessaly, Greece by Dr. Panajotis Karkanas (Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology and Speleology, Greece); and [2] a micromorphological study of sediments from the Late Minoan site of Halasmenos, Crete by Scott Pike.

Current Anthropological Research
    Research Associate Dr. Ethne Barnes (Wichita State University) continues her analysis of developmental defects and pathology of human skeletal material from Petras, Crete and the excavations of a Frankish cemetery at Ancient Corinth.
1996-97 J. Lawrence Angel Fellow Sandra J. Garvie Lok (University of Calgary) is collecting samples and examining Byzantine and post-Byzantine materials from the Church of Agios Nicholaos at the Athenian Agora, the 13th Byzantine Ephoreia on Crete, the 11th Byzantine Ephoreia in Servia, and from Agia Triada, Thebes as part of her dissertation (An Examination of Diet, Health and Gender in Byzantine and Ottoman Greece).
    1996-98 J. Lawrence Angel Fellow Anna Lagia (University of Chicago) continues her dissertation research (The Biological Imprint of Major Historical Processes that Occurred during the Twentieth Century in Northern Greece).
    Research Associate Lisa M. Littleís (Indiana University) dissertation research (A Biological Distance Study of Mycenaean Populations on the Greek Mainland) utilizes the results of epigenetic skeletal analysis in an effort to address questions of social interaction within and between communities during the Mycenaean period. Some of the populations to be included in this research are from the Athenian Agora, Galatas and Mycenaeís Grave Circle B. In addition to work on her dissertation, Lisa is also involved in the analysis and publication of a number of other skeletal collections from a wide range of archaeological periods: [1] the Late Minoan III Mochlos, Crete with Jeffery Soles (University of North Carolina); [2] Kritsa, Crete with Metaxia Tsipopoulou (Archaeological Museum, Agios Nikolaos, Crete); [3] the Early Iron Age collection from the Athenian Agora with John Papadopoulos (The Getty Museum); [4] the Medieval period burials from within the Hephaisteion, Athenian Agora with Eric Ivison; and [5] human remains from a Hellenistic well in the Athenian Agora with Susan Rotroff (Washington University) and Lynn Snyder (Smithsonian Institute).
    Research Associate Sevasti Triantaphyllou (University of Sheffield) is carrying out mortuary data analysis of Prehistoric cemetery populations from Northern Greece.

Current Zooarchaeological Research
    1996-97 Faunal Fellow Deborah Ruscillo (University College London) is collecting data for her dissertation (Sexual Dimorphism in Mammalian Skeletons for Applicability in Archaeology).
    Research Associate Dr. Lynn Snyder (Smithsonian Institution) is examining faunal materials from the Frankish Complex and Demeter Sanctuary in Corinth as well as material from the Athenian Agora and two sites on Crete - Halasmenos and Kavousi.
    Research Associate Dr. Ekaterini Trantalidou (Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology and Speleology, Greece) is analyzing Late Bronze Age animal bones from several sites including: [1] Akrotiri, Thera; [2] the sanctuary of Hermes and Aphrodite in Symi, Crete; [3] Kalamakia, Areopolis Cave; and [4] Maara cave.

Current Geoarchaeological Research
    1996-98 Geoarchaeology Fellow Richard K. Dunn (University of Delaware) is working on the mid to late Holocene evolution of the alluvial-coastal plain at Marathon, the site of the 490 B.C. battle between the Athenian and Persian armies. Mycenean to Hellenistic cemeteries and a Roman villa are also situated on the plain. Subsurface studies are determining the past shifts in alluvial, lagoonal, coastal, and shallow marine environments, and paleoenvironmental maps place the battle and other sites in their proper environmental framework. In September, Rick will begin a study of the alluvial-coastal plain at Itea, on the northern Gulf of Corinth. Situated below the site of the oracle at Delphi, the area is the probable harbor site of the sacred center. Subsurface studies will determine the extent and duration of a former marine embayment and the potential for existence of a natural harbor.
    Research Associate Dr. Panajotis Karkanas (Ephoreia of Palaeoanthropology and Speleology) carries out the petrographic component of his study on diagentic changes in the Theopetra Prehistoric cave deposits.
    Former Acting Director Scott Pike (University of Georgia) continues the fieldwork and petrographic component of his dissertation research (Archaeological Geology and Geochemistry of the Ancient Marble Quarries on Mount Pentelikon, Attica, Greece), as well as the following projects: [1] a petrographic characterization study of Minoan calcium cemented sandstone (beachrock) quarries, East Crete with Jeffrey Soles (University of North Carolina); [2] a soil micromorphological study of selected archaeological sediment profiles from Halasmenos, Crete with Paul Goldberg (Boston University); [3] a petrographic and stable isotopic characterization study of marble quarry regions from Amorgos, Naxos, Paros and Kea Islands, Greece with Sarah J. Vaughan (University of Bristol) and Norman Herz (University of Georgia); [4] a study of stable isotope fractionation of marble temper in experimental ceramic briquettes with Vaughan and Herz; [5] the petrographic, stable isotopic and geochemical characterization of marble samples from the prow of the Athena Nike victory monument, Samothrace, Greece and the presumed marble source quarries near Lartos, Greece with Ira Mark (ISM Designs); [6] a characterization study of marble quarries from the Cycladic island of Siphnos, Greece with Herz; [7] a marble characterization project of Attic statuary from the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods to determine the importation history of marble used for fine sculpture with Herz and Olga Palagia (University of Athens, Greece); [8] a marble characterization study of the Colossal Apollo statue at Delos with Ken Sheedy (Australian Archaeological Institute); [9] the marble identification of roof tiles from Perachora with Blanche Menadier (Royal Holloway).
    Research Associate Christine Shriner (Indiana University) is completing a material and technological study of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ceramic products from the site of Lerna in the Argolid.
    Research Associate Dr. Ruth Siddall (University College London) is working on a study of the compositions and technology of varieties of building materials used at ancient Corinth with Dr. Charles Williams (Corinth Excavations).

Ethnobotany Research
    Research Associate Harriet Blitzer is working on her National Geographic Society sponsored study, ìRegional Variation in Traditional Aegean Olive Cultivation - The Environmental and Cultural Contexts of Olive Cultivation and the Relationship of Olive Cultivation to Other Aspects of Aegean Culture.î

Forthcoming Wiener Laboratory Publications
    Vaughan, Sarah J. and William D.E. Coulson (eds.), Paleodiet in the Aegean, Wiener Laboratory Publication Number 1, Oxbow Books (in press).
    Vaughan, Sarah J. (ed.), The Proceedings of a Workshop on The Practical Impact of Science on Field Archaeology:  Maintaining Long-term Analytical Options held in Nicosia, Cyprus on 22-23 July 1995, Wiener Laboratory Publication Number 2 (in preparation). Contributors:  Ethne Barnes, Della Cook, Richard Evershed, Paul Goldberg, G.A. Wagner, Paul Croft, Andreas Georghiades, Julie Hansen, Chris Hayward, Vasiliki Kassianidou, Walter Klippel, John F. Merkel, Rip Rapp, Jessica Johnson, Vasilis Kilikoglou, Yannis Maniatis, Alice Paterakis, Sarah J. Vaughan.
    Pike, Scott with Seymour Gitin (eds.), The Practical Impact of Science on Near Eastern and Aegean Archaeology, Wiener Laboratory Publication Number 3, Archetype Press (in preparation). Contributors include: Magen Broshi, Tamar Dayan, Erv Garrison, Yuval Goren, Azriel Gorski, Liora Horwitz, Anne Killebrew, Mordechai Kislev, Nili Liphschitz, Arie Nissenbaum, Naomi Porat, Arlene Miller Rosen, Patricia Smith, Steven Weiner, Scott Woodward, Joseph Yellin.
    Pike, Scott (ed.), Selected Papers from a Workshop on Excavation Techniques and Treatment of Finds: Balancing the Constraints of Excavation with Conservation and Analytical Potential, Wiener Laboratory Publication Number 4 (in preparation). Contributors include: Jane E. Buikstra, Linda Scott Cummings, Hector Neff, Arthur Rohn, Henry Schwarcz, Ruth Siddall, Ekaterini Triantalidou, Noreen Tuross, Ian Whitbread.

For additional information about the Wiener Laboratory, please contact the Director, Dr. Vanda Vitali: The Wiener Laboratory, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 54 Souidias, Athens 106 76, Greece. Tel: (301) 723-6313; fax: (301) 729-4047; e-mail:

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