New methods to explore past agriculture: Modern Experimental Cultivations and 3D Geometric Morphometrics

GIAP (ICAC)’s PhD candidate Alexandra Kriti will present in the “Young Researchers in Archaeometry” Workshop (YRA), which is taking place on 5th and 6th September 2022:

New methods to explore past agriculture: Modern Experimental Cultivations and 3D Geometric Morphometrics

Alexandra E.T. Kriti1, Alexandra Livarda1, Ioannis Mylonas2, Elissavet Ninou3 and Hèctor A. Orengo1
1 Landscape Archaeology Research Group (GIAP), Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology (ICAC), Tarragona, Spain
Hellenic Agricultural Organization-Dimitra, Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources, Thermi, Thessaloniki, 57001, Greece
Department of Agriculture, International Hellenic University (IHU), Sindos, Thessaloniki, 57400, Greece

In this paper we aim to present a new experimental cultivation project in the north of Greece, and how this can be used towards the development of new tools that will allow investigation of agriculture in the past. The project focuses on barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and its experimental cultivation at the Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources, based at Thermi Thessaloniki, north Greece. 

The barley genotypes are originating from various regions of contemporary Greece and constitute the traditional landraces, until the Green Revolution. Also, a modern cultivar from Thessaloniki is used as a control reference.  Different cultivation regimes are simulated by traditional agricultural practices. We are conducting regular observations and measurements on all the plants, thus assessing the landraces’ response to the climatic and environmental conditions, and their potential impact on the phenotype of the grain and its dietary value. Furthermore, few hundreds of grains from selected landraces are recorded with a high-precision 3D scanner. This is the first time that such a method is applied on cereal grains in archaeology. The high-resolution grain models are used for the extraction of 3D Geometric Morphometric (GMM) measurements. All this information is used to train a machine-learning (ML) algorithm with the aim to identify distinct landraces.

It is the first step towards the creation of a cost-effective tool that can be applied on archaeobotanical material from all periods. The preliminary results will be presented, as well as the next steps of the project.

About YRA:
YRA offers young researchers in the archaeological sciences the opportunity to present their research in a friendly environment surrounded only by young students from the same field. We welcome all persons involved in archaeometry research of different nationalities and levels, from master’s students to first postdoctoral fellows. Suggested domains: Archaeometry, Bioarchaeology, Natural Sciences Methods in Archaeology. In this year’s edition, YRA 5th Workshop provides pre-recorded tutorials.

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