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Department of Archaeology


EPOCH - Early Populations In Cretan History


‘Early POpulations in Cretan History: Investigating residential mobility in the eastern Mediterranean using isotope GeoChemistry’ (EPOCH GeoChem) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie multidisciplinary (archaeology, bioarchaeology, isotope geochemistry) project. 

EPOCH GeoChem investigates the Neolithic Transition and the subsequent socio-economic developments on Crete (Greece) using a pioneering, multifaceted methodological approach. For the first time, the focus is on the skeletal remains of the respective people; the tools are cutting-edge isotope geochemistry and radiocarbon analyses; the perspective is bioarchaeological and the methodology is novel for this topic.

The main objectives are to: a) investigate residential mobility during the Neolithic to Early Bronze Age on the island of Crete; b) refine the chronology of the early human occupation of the island; c) achieve a nuanced reconstruction of the early Cretan bio-cultural history through in-context interpretation of isotopic data; d) generate the first comprehensive map of local bioavailable strontium and oxygen isotopic signatures for the Eastern Mediterranean, for this project, as well as for others studying human/animal mobility.

For the first time, isotopic analyses of multiple elements (strontium, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, sulphur and hydrogen) are used on the same archaeological human remains, including the earliest yet excavated collection from Crete, to determine geographical origins and diet as proxies for distinguishing between different groups, reconstruct mobility and gain insights into the lifeways and social organization of the respective communities. AMS radiocarbon dating will provide a clear chronological framework to this research.

External Collaborator: Professor Christopher Ramsey, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, University of Oxford (Partner Organisation)

This project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 654736.





Dissemination activities

24-09-2016: 12th International Congress of Cretan Studies, Heraklion, Crete, Greece, September 21 –25, 2016. Title of paper presentation: “The Neolithic cemetery at Katsambas (Heraklion) on Crete: A bioarchaeological perspective”.

Photos and Videos

Sampling archaeological animal bone.





Sampling archaeological animal bone for stable isotope ratio analysis.

Project Lead

Project Tags

Science, Technology and Innovation
Periods of interest: 
Other Historical
Geographical areas: 
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Biomolecular Archaeology
Archaeological Science
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