School and public outreach
Archaeological Sciences have a unique pedagogical potential as they are inherently multidisciplinary and they can elucidate important aspects of past life that are pressing even nowadays, such as adaptation to climate change, migration, epidemics and pandemics and others. As such, the Archaeological Sciences group has invested strongly in outreach and communication with different members of the public.
MSCA European Researchers’ Night
The European Researchers’ Night aims to familiarize the public with scientific advances and make researchers more approachable to society, as well as inspire students to pursue a career in research. The event is organised by the European Commission and takes place every September across Europe. In Cyprus, this event has been organized by the Research and Innovation Foundation in collaboration with Public and Private Universities, Research Centers, Non-Governmental Organizations, Businesses and other stakeholders.
In European Researchers’ Night 2022, our team participated in the activity: Adaptation to climate change: A journey through time via bioarchaeology. This activity combined archaeobotany, zooarchaeology and human osteoarchaeology to demonstrate that climate change is not an exclusively contemporary phenomenon. Human societies have always had to adapt to important environmental changes and this adaptation took many forms: changes in the diet, economic practices, and daily activities, but also human mobility and warfare. Bioarchaeology examines organic remains from archaeological contexts, such as past seeds, and human and animal skeletal remains. The participants learned how we can identify organic remains as evidence of adaptation to different environments and examined specific case studies across the world, with emphasis on the Eastern Mediterranean.
For European Researchers’ Night 2021, the emphasis was on digital technologies, thus the archaeological sciences team participated in the activity: Archaeological sciences in the digital era. This activity showcased a range of digital applications in the archaeological sciences with an emphasis on human osteoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany and archaeological materials. The public had the opportunity to see how different digital reference collections are created and used and compare these against traditional/physical collections. They also saw how 3D scanners and printers work, and learned how digital archaeological data facilitate much more advanced analytical approaches, such as geometric morphometrics for the analysis of shape and size. Using 3D-printed casts of seeds and bones, younger attendees learned the basic principles of osteoarchaeology and archaeobotany and the fascinating information that can be extracted from these sub-disciplines regarding life in the past.
During European Researchers’ Night 2018, 2019 and 2020 our team joined the event with the activity: Human bones: An unexpected time machine. The human skeleton constitutes one of the primary, though often neglected, sources of information regarding past societies. Our daily activities, dietary habits, and diseases that may have afflicted us leave permanent marks on our bones. The aim of this activity was to familiarize the audience with the inherent variation of the human skeleton and the biological and cultural factors that produce it. Participants learned to identify the main elements of the human skeleton, how to assess the sex and age-at-death of an individual based on skeletal remains, and identify a range of diseases, dietary markers, and markers of genetic affinity.
The sCYence Fair is organised annually by The Cyprus Institute under the auspices of the Minister of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, and co-organized with Aglantzia Municipality. The Fair aims to enhance scientific interest and support the next generation of scientists from Cyprus. Like Researchers’ Night, this event is an opportunity for research teams from the Cyprus Institute to showcase their work to the general public through interactive activities, but, very importantly, it is an opportunity for school students to demonstrate their own scientific projects and enter a contest.
The Archaeological Sciences group has been participating in the following activities
The Human Skeleton: A Window to the Past: How active were our ancestors? What were their dietary habits like, how healthy were there and how mobile? All this information can be extracted from the human skeleton, using appropriate research tools. ‘The human skeleton: a window to the past’ includes different activities for an audience aged 5 to 15 years. These activities will show you what an osteoarchaeologist’s job looks like from the stage of excavation to the stage of laboratory analysis. In specific, you will learn the main principles of an archaeological excavation. Subsequently, you will have the opportunity to determine if a human skeleton belongs to a man or a woman, how old he/she was, how active and whether he/she suffered from any diseases, exactly as an osteoarchaeologist does in the lab.
Zoo-Archaeology: Exploring the Human-Animal Relationship: Almost wherever we dig, we find animal bones. Why are there so many? What happened to the animals they once belonged to? What can they tell us about the life of humans in the past? Zooarchaeology is the key with which we can unlock the knowledge hidden in ancient animal remains, answer these questions and many more. With a set of fun activities, there is ample opportunity for first-hand experience in being a zoo archaeologist! The activities involve discovering bones and teeth, handling them, guessing which body part it is, which animals they belonged to and how people interacted with those animals. All activities are practical and interactive, with handouts and visual aids for practical work. All activities are conducted by experts, which offers opportunities for further learning.
Visiting an Ancient Cypriot Field: This activity explores plant presence in ancient Cyprus. The participants will learn which types of domesticated plants were used and how ancient Cypriots treated them – from planting and harvesting to processing for storage and meal preparation. Children will also learn which food combinations were preferred in the past and what the favorite foodstuffs of ancient Cypriots were to eat either as a snack or as a main dish. Cypriot plant remains found in archaeological sites of the island will be inspected using a stereomicroscope and identified using atlases devoted to Cypriot flora. After visiting the archaeobotanical booth, participants will have not only gained a glimpse of the past Cypriot flora and diet but they will also be able to compare the past with the modern diet and underline differences and similarities.
European Archaeology Days
The European Archaeology Days were organized for the first time in Cyprus in 2022 by the Cyprus National Commission for UNESCO. Both in 2022 and in 2023 the Archaeological Sciences team joined forces with the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation and the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists and participated in the activity: ‘History and Archaeology for All!’. Specifically, our team organised the activity ‘Bioarchaeology: A journey in time through ancient bones and seeds’, which engaged young participants in the study of human osteoarchaeology and archaeobotany.
As part of the celebrations for International Museum Day, the Archaeological Sciences team collaborated with the Department of Antiquities Cyprus and organized at the Cyprus Museum in Nicosia and the Archaeological Museum at Larnaca pedagogical workshops for primary school students. These workshops focused on the ‘unseen excavation heroes’, that is, ancient seeds, and animal and human bones that archaeologists discover across Cyprus.
As part of the Program “Researchers in Schools”, coordinated by the Research and Innovation Foundation, Archaeological Science team members had the great pleasure to visit several public schools across the Nicosia District, give lectures on archaeobotany and osteoarchaeology, and organize hands-on workshops with the students. In addition, we have given lectures at the Heritage School in Limassol and at the AERIKO Open School, at the village of Galata.
Moreover, we organised a series of experiential workshops for students from the School for the Blind in Nicosia in the form of a narrative about the human past, as revealed through material culture, human bones and plants. Emphasis was placed on tactile tasks involving raw materials, bone casts and modern plants so that the participants understand basic principles of the archaeological sciences. The event was a success and the intention is to repeat it, involving adults with diverse disabilities in diverse activities.
Finally, students from the Heritage school visited the Cyprus Institute to engage in a 3D printing activity with potentially important societal implications. The participants attended brief lectures on osteoarchaeological evidence of habitual activity and trauma in the past, as well as 3D printing technologies and their applications in archaeology and heritage studies. These were followed by a tour of the human osteoarchaeology and the virtual environments laboratories before the students engaged in the hands-on assembly of a 3D-printed artificial hand. The hand parts had been printed using materials provided by the e-NABLE community (http://enablingthefuture.org/) and the result was two functional hands. After the successful completion of this task, Promised members obtained the Fabrication and Assembly e-NABLE badges and we are currently trying to identify individuals in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East in need of an upper limb assistive device who could benefit from this initiative.
Workshop with the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute
Given the high pedagogical potential of the archaeological sciences, we organized a workshop for primary and secondary school teachers in order to highlight the interdisciplinary and contemporary character of relevant research. The workshop included an introductory lecture, followed by four hands-on workshops on zooarchaeology, human osteoarchaeology, archaeobotany and archaeological materials. In the latter, participants saw specific activities they can implement in the classroom and gave us input on how these could be integrated to the school curriculum.
The Archaeological Sciencesteam created the documentary Digging up Cypriot tastes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAZn_J7CAbI) in the frame of the 4th cycle of Short Documentary Production Workshops organised by the non-profit organisation A.E.I AUDIOVISUAL FORUM in collaboration with the UNESCO Associate Schools Network, Cyprus (Aspnet). The documentary follows archaeologist Dr. Michael Boyd who travels in Cyprus to meet a team of archaeologists from the Cyprus Institute. The audience travels from the present to the past, learning about several Cypriot products-a forms of intangible cultural heritage and the stories of its people. Merging ethnography and archaeology, the movie is an attempt to approach food as a diachronic social phenomenon, projecting the memory and cultural identity of Greek Cypriots in relation to it.
Open-access outreach books and leaflets
Many of the activities we customarily organize in the context of the Science Fair and the Researchers’ Night were organised in an open-access guide on Archaeological Science Classroom Activities. This is a 70-page free multi-lingual pedagogical resource on archaeological sciences, so far translated into Greek, English and Arabic. It can be downloaded from:
In addition, we have published an open-access book on human osteoarchaeology titled Bare Bones: Our Ancestors’ bones have a lot to say. This is a 100-page book on the fascinating information we can extract from our ancestors’ skeletons regarding their lives. What did they eat? How active were they? What diseases did they suffer from? And what does this biological information tell us about the ways in which they adapted to environmental and sociopolitical changes? This book is available in Greek and English and may be downloaded from: