Research

The laboratory has as its main, long-term research interests studies in human skeletal studies, faunal studies, Geoarchaeology, Archaeobotany and ancient materials studies. A variety of complementary analytical techniques are applied to studies in each area. Close links are encouraged between Wiener Laboratory researchers and the staff of the American School, its conservation department, and associated excavation directors, enhancing communication and interpretation arising out of collaborative research.

Human Skeletal Studies

Faunal Studies

Archaeobotanical Studies

Geoarchaeological Studies

Materials Science Studies

 

Human Skeletal Studies

Human skeletal research at the Wiener Laboratory is related to questions of:
• Social status as revealed in dietary deficiencies and/or pathological profiles for burial groups
• Bio-distance assessments of large cemetery deposits relating to questions of population movement
• Regional contact and kinship
• Dietary and tooth-wear studies
• Occupational markers
• The origin and patterns of occurrence of individual pathological lesions

In addition to macroscopic and microscopic assessments based on the small human comparative collection, x-ray analysis, 3D laser scanning and analysis of thin sections of teeth and bone are carried out in-house.

 

Faunal Studies

Faunal analysis in the laboratory aims to contribute to research topics such as:
• Domestication of animals and the neolithization process in Eastern Mediterranean
• Reconstruction of  palaeoenvironment and terrestrial-marine ecosystems
• Past diet and practices with regard to animal husbandry and carcass utilization
• Exploitation of animals from an economic perspective, detection of exchange and trade
• The interactions between humans and animals, understanding of their place and social roles within human societies
• Seasonality in the occupation of settlements and spatial organization of  site activity
• Taphonomic processes
• Animal raw materials (e.g. bone industry, purple-dye production)

The Wiener Laboratory offers researchers work and storage space for analysis of archaeological animal bone assemblages from Greece and Eastern Mediterranean and adjacent areas. One of the major points of strength of the lab is the modern reference faunal collection, which includes mammals, birds and fish and shells -essential for precise identification and analysis of faunal remains from archaeological contexts.

The Wiener Laboratory is equipped with a range of analytical equipment and houses a large corpus of faunal manuals, osteology atlases, books, and reprints related to zooarchaeological research, as well as publications of material from Greek excavations.

 

Archaeobotanical Studies

The Wiener Laboratory is long engaged in Archaeobotanical studies with the funding of various projects from different chronological periods and excavations in the eastern Mediterranean and surrounding areas. Archaeobotanical studies in the laboratory aim to contribute to research topics such as:

• Reconstruction of the paleoenvironments contemporary to the habitation/use of the archaeological sites
• Woodland management, firewood procurement and plant utilization
• The origins and spread of agriculture
• Diet, subsistence strategies and agricultural practices
• Site use and identification of activity areas

The Wiener Lab is well equipped with microscopes  for the study of seeds, charcoal, pollen, starch grains and phytoliths, and has preparation lab with facilities for extraction of pollen, starch grains and phytoliths, and has preparation lab with facilities for extraction of pollen, starch and phytoliths. The lab is probably the only research establishment in Greece which can accommodate such a wide range of analytical methods for the study of past environments. On top of the technical equipment, the Wiener Laboratory has well informed reference collections of seeds, charcoal and phytoliths, which is essential for the coherent study of ancient plant remains. The reference collections are accompanied with up to date plant atlases, necessary for any study, and well informed publications on ancient environment and landscapes.

Geoarchaeological Studies

This broad class of research in the Wiener Laboratory encompasses studies in the following areas:

• Human landscape interactions, understanding human-induced environmental changes and how climatic fluctuations affected human history.
• Site formation processes focusing on the micro-stratigraphy, micromorphology and diagenetic (post-depositional) alterations of archaeological deposits.

In addition to field and laboratory research, scholars working on geoarchaeological studies contribute to the laboratory’s permanent collections. The Wiener Laboratory is equipped with a range of analytical equipment :

- Polarizing microscopes for the study of thin sections.
- Metallographic microscopes for the study of polished sections
- Inverted-metallographic microscope with integrated florescence for the study of large metallographic specimens, polished specimens and thin sections.
- Stereoscope for detailed macroscopic observation and use-wear studies. All microscopes are connected to digital cameras providing live image on computer screen and high-quality microphotographs.

The laboratory is also equipped with rock-cutting saws and a lapping plate for the preparation of petrographic thin sections.

Materials Science Studies

Wiener Lab supports research projects with a multidisciplinary approach rather than single material analysis and case studies. The reference collections of pottery and rocks in hand specimen and thin sections, the collection of pigments, the collection of experimentally produced tools (stone and bone) as well as the analytical equipment used in geoarchaeological studies can facilitate researchers engaged in the study of the following:

• Ceramics and earthen construction materials (thin section petrography)
• Metals (archaeometallurgy, thin and polished sections)
• Lithics
• Pigments
• Glass and vitreous materials
• Organic residues
The aim of projects related to ancient materials include compositional characterization, investigation of provenance and technology of manufacture, and ultimately an assessment of the human agent in the shaping of its material culture.