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Kyriaki Tsirtsi


Kyriaki Tsirtsi, after finishing her PhD studies on November 2022, holds a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Archaeobotany in the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center of the Cyprus Institute. For her PhD thesis entitled “Agricultural and domestic practices in Classical/ early Hellenistic Sikyon: Evidence from the Archaeobotanical remains and utilitarian pots” Kyriaki was fully embedded in the field team, designing recovery protocols, supervising recovery in the field, and analysing resulting material. This includes traditional archaeobotanical analysis, the identification of charred seeds using suitable reference collections and seed atlases, but it also expands in analysis of starch on ceramic vessels, and morphometric analysis of seeds (olives and grapes). This range of analytical techniques was chosen in order to answer the research agenda of the thesis, which included very specific questions, such as food preparation and storage strategies through time, as well as more general and broadly applicable questions of the Classical/ early Hellenistic economy. Throughout the Post- Doctorate Project, as part of the MEDIS-FOOD Project, Kyriaki deals with archaeobotanical material which is dated to the 3rd-2nd millennium BCE, and it is derived from the EMME region.

Interviewing ancient plant remains; their importance as cultural and natural heritage assets

Archaeobotany -as a subfield of Environmental Archaeology- constitutes a significant research area of Archaeology which started to significantly grow with the rise of Processual Archaeology.
Archaeobotanical assemblages consist of plant remains recovered from archaeological sites, incorporated into the archaeological record through natural or anthropogenic formation processes. Ancient plant remains do not only represent the diversity of species cultivated and exploited in the past but also human -plant relations developed in specific areas and periods of time. The study of archaeobotanical remains allows the reconstruction of past vegetation and the understanding of how people used plants in the past for food, fuel, medicine, symbolic or ritual purposes, or for building and crafts. One of the important aspects of archaeobotanical research is the preservation of cultural heritage. As traditional uses of plants die out, the artefacts in the ethnobotanical and the archaeobotanical record take on a new significance to communities, anthropologists and archaeobotanists on a local and regional level. Ethno/ archaeobotanical material as museum collections are limited in Southeastern Europe and once they are developed, they should not be static; on the contrary, they should constantly grow, asthey have the potential to put great emphasis on the materials and objects of everyday life in regional and interregional level. Archaeobotanical material as a heritage asset, it does not only form a component of cultural heritage (tangible and intangible culture) but also of natural heritage, the understanding of indigenous landscapes and the protection of biodiversity of species of the ecosystem and natural environment. Archaeobotanical studies provide valuable information on the understanding of ancient economies, and they therefore can propose implications on the present agricultural economies of Southeastern Europe, to create a sustainable future based on the knowledge of the past

This paper aims to discuss the need of:

– introducing Archaeobotany in Southeastern Europe as it is still underrepresented from especially state- supervised- excavations due to various reasons, such as lack of time, knowledge and trained personnel, disoriented research questions, lack of sampling protocols, financial/ budget issues etc.
– raising awareness of the importance of Archaeobotany in promoting cultural and natural heritage of the Southeastern Europe, by stressing out the importance of indigenous biodiversity, the local technology developed for the development of specific agricultural regimes
– engaging and educating the local communities on the cultural and natural heritage as a route for sustainability
– introducing archaeobotanical material in Southeastern Europe’s Museum’s displays by showcasing the story of how the plants came to be cultivated and collected, discussing ways of attracting financial support for their curation and dissemination
– setting the baseline of productive dialogue and collaboration among archaeologists and state representatives on efficient protection of past agricultural related heritage