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MedisFood: Mediterranean Island Life Modes: Foodwebs, Agricultural Practices and Social Complexity in Crete and Cyprus in the Bronze Age

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MedisFood: Mediterranean Island Life Modes: Foodwebs, Agricultural Practices and Social Complexity in Crete and Cyprus in the Bronze Age’’ MEDIS-FOOD,an interdisciplinary project which focuses on the two larger islands of the eastern Mediterranean, Crete and Cyprus. The project examines the origins of the complex societies of the Bronze Age, by analyzing the agricultural practices, crop husbandry and land use of the period, along with the production of wine and olive oil, which are products of great economic and social value. In contrast to prior approaches, the project employs a combination of new research questions and a multidisciplinary methodology in order to elucidate this important period in human agricultural and economic history.

MEDISFOOD will push research forward by using multiproxies (archaeobotany, isotope analysis, phytolith analysis and theoretical models) in order to shed light on the complexity of the processes, which led to the creation of complex centres and agricultural systems in the eastern Mediterranean.


Key Members

Evi MargaritisDr Evi Margaritis, the Project Coordinator of MEDIS-FOOD, is Associate Professor of Environmental Archaeology at the Science and Technology in Archaeology Research Center.  As part of her PhD and post-PhD fieldwork and research Dr Margaritis has gained extensive experience working in Greece, Cyprus, Jordan and Italy and, as a result, she is in charge of the archaeobotanical studies of research projects run by numerous universities and research institutions. She is one of the leading experts in archaeobotanical research in the east Mediterranean and the only archaeobotanist based in Cyprus.

She is an expert in the field of Mediterranean Archaeobotany and part of her research has focused on the emergence of the complex societies through the study of archaeobotanical remains of olive and grape in the Aegean. She has attracted funding from the Gates Cambridge Trust, the Leventis Foundation, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory and the Mediterranean Archaeological Trust; she was also awarded a Marie Curie International Fellowship to work at Cambridge on olive and grape remains from Greece and Cyprus.

Currently she is the assistant director of the Cambridge Keros Excavation Project, one of the most multidisciplinary projects in East Mediterranean, where she is in charge of the Environmental Studies of the project and she has also organised a field school, the Cambridge-CyI field school, for training the next generation of archaeologists. Dr Margaritis has been acting as a reviewer for peer reviewed journals such as Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, Journal of Archaeological Science and American Journal of Archaeology. Her publication record includes numerous publications in peer reviewed journals and chapters in collective volumes, she has been invited at several conferences and workshops and she has organised conferences herself. Dr Margaritis was awarded considerable funding from the Research Promotion Foundation for the project URBAN: The antecedents of urbanism in Europe (RPF EXCELLENCE/1216/0463) under the funding call ‘’Excellence Hubs’. She is also a WP leader at the H2020 Twinning proposal ‘Promised’: Promoting Archaeological Science in EMME, a collaboration between CyI, Universities of Cambridge and Leuven, awarded to Prof Thilo Rehren in 2018.

kyriaki fieldsDr Tsirtsi has extensive experience in archaeobotanical research, both in the field and in the laboratory. For her PhD research, defended in November 2022, Kyriaki combined different archaeobotanical and scientific techniques in understanding the agricultural and domestic economies of Classical Sikyon (Greece). During her PhD studies, she was fully embedded in the field team, designing recovery protocols, supervising recovery in the field, and analysing resulting material, thereby becoming an expert in the flora of the Aegean and the current models of the economy and social organization of the first millennium BCE.

Throughout her PhD studies she was also awarded two Erasmus+ Programs; one took place in 2018, in the School of Archaeology of the University of Oxford and the second in 2021 in the Humana, IMF-SCIC Institute, in Barcelona. Both Erasmus programs focused on microbotanical studies and specifically the analysis of starch granules retrieved from the interior of ceramic pots, in order to reconstruct cooking and consumption patterns in the 1st millennium BCE in Greece. She has also held the British School of Athens Centenary Bursary in order to conduct similar research in Oxford related to the Keros research and excavation project of the University of Cambridge (2019).

In MedisFood, Kyriaki holds a Post-Doctorate position where she explores the long durée of plant choices of the 3rd/2nd millennium BCE, the varieties of grapes and olives exploited in the biggest islands of the Eastern Mediterranean, Crete and Cyprus, and addresses key questions related to the rise of complex societies in both islands. The simultaneous analysis of both islands allows not only the understanding of the unique social and agricultural structures of each island, but also the definition of patterns and tendencies that may have appeared at the same time on both regions and which may reflect adaptations, influences and ultimately connections with other areas, or even directly between Crete and Cyprus.

tamsin oconnellThe Isotope analysis of the archaeobotanical material of MedisFood will be undertaken at the Dorothy Garrod Laboratory of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research of the University of Cyprus under the supervision of Dr Tamsin O’Connell. Dr O'Connell started academic life as a chemist at the University of Oxford. She worked with Prof Robert Hedges at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art in Oxford, firstly for her undergraduate dissertation followed by a SERC/NERC-funded DPhil. She had a Wellcome Trust Post- doctoral Fellowship, then two post-doctoral positions at the The Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art (RLAHA), RLAHA.

She joined the Department in Cambridge in 2004, with a Wellcome Trust University Award, to set up an isotope and palaeodiet laboratory, now called the Dorothy Garrod Laboratory. Her research traces signals of diet and climate in human, animal and plant tissues, using isotopic analysis. As well as application to archaeological, ecological and epidemiological case studies, her work focuses on developing our understanding of the underlying principles, so as to improve the resolution of interpretations and conclusions that we can draw from isotopic analyses. Research topics include stable isotope analysis, palaeodiet, palaeoclimate, ecological studies of foodwebs, nutrition and epidemiology, and biomolecular analysis of human and animal remains.

She recently published the first global review of published human oxygen isotope data. She is presently involved in the following European Funded research projects: Nutritional Biomarkers in Epidemiology (with the University of Reading and Cambridge); The Portus Project-University of Southampton; The Trans-SAHARA project, University of Leicester; The FRAGSUS Project: Fragility and sustainability in the restricted island environments of Malta, Cambridge.



Dr Evi Margaritis, Associate Professor
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel. +357 22208616


Cofinanced by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research and Innovation Foundation-EXCELLENCE/0421/0447medisfood RIF logos



Additional Info

  • Acronym: MedisFood
  • Center: STARC
  • Funding Source: The project is funded by the Research and Innovation Foundation Excellence Grant
  • CyI Funding: 119.000 euros
  • Funding Period: 24 months
  • Starting Date: 1 April 2022
  • End Date: 31 March 2024
  • Coordinator: The Cyprus Institute
  • Partners:

    McDonald Institute,

    University of Cambridge 

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