Experimental archaeology in Crete: fire, bones, pots and plants

In early April, we participated in an interdisciplinary experimental event in Greece involving burning and the effects of fire on articulated and semi-articulated animal carcasses, pottery and plant remains, which took place in Sokaras village, in Crete, Greece. The experiments took place in the context of the TEFRA project, which investigates the effects of fire on human remains in prehistoric Aegean. 

Dr Sevi Triantafyllou (TEFRA PI, Associate Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology and Osteoarchaeology, Department of Archaeology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) with a team of PhD candidates and research associates from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, including Yiannis Chatzikonstantinou,  Vaso Papathanassiou, Sotiria Kiorpe and Dr Niki Papakonstantinou specialized on human remains, and Roula Chronaki, specialized on faunal remains, prepared four experimental pyres to examine issues of pyrotechnology and differential burning conditions through a multidisciplinary approach. Also, the partners of the research program Professor Christophe Snoeck, VUB, in Belgium and Dr Evangelia Kiriatzi, Director of the Fitch Laboratory, BSA as well as Kristóf Fülöp, Research Associate of the Research Centre for the Humanities Institute of Archaeology and the Eötvös Loránd Research Network, participated and actively contributed to the implementation of the experiments.

Part of our team, PhD candidate Alexandra Kriti and Dr. Alexandra Livarda (Ramon y Cajal Researcher at ICAC) were invited to participate in the experiments and investigate the effect of fire on plant material. 

Prior to their participation in TEFRA’s experimental pyres, the DarkRevisited team, led by Alexandra Kriti, had prepared a series of traditional recipes based on barley. Barley grains were prepared accordingly and added inside pottery vessels towards the end of the firing experiments, to investigate the effect of cooking accidents.

The cooked and/or charred remains of those recipes will be analysed by our team and will provide further information on the effect of charring on the fresh and processed barley grain. This information will enhance our understanding on the morphology of the grains, the ancient cooking processes, as well as the conditions under which carbonisation occurs in real-life cooking fires.

DarkRevisited team’s participation in TEFRA’s pyre experiments has resulted in a fruitful collaboration with particularly enlightening results on the effects of fire on cereal grains, which will be conjointly disseminated by the team members involved.

Research funded by:

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