Meet our new MSCA fellows: Drs. Efrosyni Boutsikas & Charlotte Diffey

Skyscapes, religion, plants and ancient economy are some of the themes to be investigated by the two successful 2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie fellows that will join GIAP. They are two brilliant female researchers: Dr Efrosyni Boutsikas and Dr Charlotte Diffey. Both of them will be working on the Aegean with new technologies, involving loads of 3D reconstructions!

Dr Boutsikas is an established scholar and with this fellowship aims to amplify her analytical toolkit with cutting-edge techniques on advanced 3D modelling and landscape analyses, while delving into current theoretical approaches on the cognitive formation of space and experience in ritual performance. This will be achieved through applied research on ancient Greek ritual practice collaborating and guided by Dr Hector Orengo at GIAP and also by Dr Schjødt’s team at the Department of the Study of Religion at Aarhus University (Denmark), where she will have a short stay of about 2 months. Her project, STAR-AGESS aims to recreate immersive environments that incorporate ancient sky and astronomical simulations, horizons, detailed topography and architectural 3D models of the sanctuaries at Sounion, Aegina and Perachora in Greece.

Efrosyni Boutsikas brief biography:

Efrosyni Boutsikas is a Senior Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at the University of Kent and a member of the Council of the International Society for Archaeoastronomy in Culture (ISAAC). Her research focuses on ancient Greek religious experience, memory, myth and the role of time, space and landscape in ritual performance. She has written and co-authored papers on the role of astronomy and catasterism myths in shaping ancient religious experience and ritual practice. She has directed research projects in Greece, Cyprus, Sicily and Turkey funded by the British Academy, the Society of Antiquaries (London) and the Royal Society of New Zealand. Her research has been published in a range of classical, archaeological, and archaeoastronomical journals. Efrosyni is currently also a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Astronomy in Culture and the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, and a co-director of the University of Kent’s Interdisciplinary Centre in Spatial Studies (KISS). She is the author of The Cosmos in Ancient Greek Religious Experience: Sacred Space, Memory, and Cognition (Cambridge University Press, 2020) and a co-editor of Studies in Cultural Astronomy in Honour of Clive Ruggles (Springer, 2021).

Dr Efrosyni Boutsikas

Dr Diffey is a talented early career researcher, who is specialized in archaeobotany and stable isotope analysis, having been trained in one of the best research teams in the field led by Prof. Amy Bogaard at the University of Oxford, UK. Despite the early stage of her career, Charlotte has a very strong field, laboratory and publication record, with work in Europe, Asia and the Americas, including research at the iconic sites of Çatalhöyük in Turkey and Knossos in Greece. She will join GIAP with the project ‘DarkSeeds’ under the guidance of Dr Alexandra Livarda. Her project aims to provide a new explanatory model of the economic changes observed during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age in the Aegean, a period often referred to as ‘Dark Ages’, through the application of standard archaeobotanical and stable isotope analyses alongside newly developed methods at GIAP that combine 3D photogrammetry and Machine Learning-aided Geometric Morphometrics (GMM).

Charlotte Diffey brief biography:

Charlotte completed her PhD in 2018 and since then she held two post-doctoral positions. First at the University of Oxford and then at the University of Reading where she currently continues working. In her current position Charlotte is working on the ERC-funded ‘Middle East Neolithic Transition: Integrated Community Approaches’ (MENTICA) project. This research concentrates primarily on the establishment of early farming practices and communities at several Neolithic and Chalcolithic sites in Iraq and Iran. Her previous research has focused on large-scale Bronze Age farming and politics in the Eastern Mediterranean and Northern Mesopotamia, working on archaeobotanical assemblages from the major urban centres of Hattusha (Turkey) and Tell Brak (Syria).

Dr Charlotte Diffey

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