August 30, 2016
Vela spila: a brief introduction to recent fieldwork
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
University of Cambridge
Vela spila Cave (Korčula, Croatia), preserves a long, rich, high-resolution record of palaeoenvironmental and archaeological remains in the Adriatic region. Its deposits span from the Last Glacial Maximum (ca. 20 kyr) to the Bronze Age (ca. 3 kyr). In this talk we focus on Late Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic assemblages. During the late glacial period Late Upper Palaeolithic people seasonally visited Vela spila to process and consume large game animals (e.g. red deer, European ass, wild cattle) that they hunted on the exposed Great Adriatic Plain. Raw materials for the production of stone tools and shell beads were also procured some distance from the cave; groups had large annual ranges. Starting around 17.5 kyr people developed the technology of firing clay into ceramic, zoomorphic ‘figurines’; this technology was used until about 15 kyr. Human activities at Vela Spila changed significantly after the deposition of the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff (NYT, c. 14.3-13.9 kyr) shortly after the onset of rapid, late-glacial warming (GI-1d, starting c. 14.7 kyr). Immediately after the deposition of the NYT the Pleistocene ceramics disappear, the intensity of site visits drops significantly, and the cave was abandoned. After a break in occupation for about 5 kyr, Mesolithic people revisited the cave during the Holocene starting about 9.5 kyr. Rising sea levels had a dramatic impact on Vela Spila’s Mesolithic inhabitants; roe deer, fox, fish, and shellfish dominate the food waste and only locally-available raw materials were used to make stone tools and shell beads. Over the course of the Mesolithic occupation, the human use of subsistence resources intensified. The 8.2 kyr event is roughly correlated with the first appearance of Neolithic technologies (domestic animals followed by pottery) at the site. The archaeological assemblages display aspects of both continuity and change across the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition. With the adoption of food production in the Neolithic, Vela spila was used primarily as a pen for keeping domestic sheep and goat.
September 2, 2016
The total station: applications in archaeology and at Vela Spila
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
University of Cambridge
An overview of the total station, an opto–electronic surveying instrument that, through the measurement of distances and angles from a fixed point, allows archaeologists to record in three dimensions the location of a point or object of interest, was provided.
The application of the total station in archaeology—for site management, data collection, and field survey—was illustrated with reference to case studies including Tirefour Castle in Scotland, the Zecovi oppidum at Grujicici in Bosnia Hercegovina, and Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. The data produced by the total station was described and the instrument compared with differential GPS.
Finally, the way in which the instrument is used at Vela Spila was described and guidance on the effective day–to–day operation of the instrument was provided.
September 5, 2016
Vela Luka Culture Center
Recent excavations of the Kopila necropolis, ongoing since 2012, revealed six tombs, along with rich remains of material culture of presumably indigenous population of Korčula Island. Kopila was known to amateur excavators during the 19th century, but was not recognized and systematically excavated until the ongoing excavations led by Vela Luka Culture Centre (Dinko Radić) and Department of Archaeology of the University of Zadar (Igor Borzić). During the recent 5 seasons of excavations, 6 tombs in total have been excavated, revealing the architecture of the central inhumation area, encircled with the drystone wall enclosures. Within the tombs, together with the human skeletal remains, remains of various grave goods were found (Hellenistic pottery, metal ornaments, helmet and spear remains, glass and amber beads, etc.), which date the usage of the Kopila necropolis to 4th to 1st century B.C.E.
September 8, 2016
ArchaeoLink: turning archaeology into heritage
It is no longer considered appropriate that archaeologists work in isolation in the field without engaging with the local community. “Impact” is a key factor which Research Councils now take into account when assessing the value of research. Indeed a strategy for achieving positive impact is a necessary requirement in most current funding applications. But archaeologists have little time, and need specialist skills, for such outreach.
ArchaeoLink was founded with the purpose of liaising between researchers and the communities in which they work to encourage knowledge exchange and facilitate those communities in obtaining educational, societal and economic benefits from their archaeology and cultural heritage. ArchaeoLink uses a range of practical strategies for achieving impact, generally following three pathways: Social interaction; Education; Economy.
The stakeholders in Elefsina wished to raise the profile of Eleusis, locally, nationally and internationally. ArchaeoLink produced a site specific education programme for local schools and our recommendations resulted in visits by international tour groups and, eventually, Elefsina’s candidacy as European Capital of Culture for 2021.
An interactive museum programme and the creation of information panels, time-line & brochures for archaeological displays are among ArchaeoLink’s objectives for facilitating the Mayor’s goal to regenerate the historic centre of Troina, Sicily. Our recommendations and support with practices for attracting and encouraging visitors and special interest groups is proving successful.
The community of Vela Luka wished for more information about their site of Vela Spila and to extend their summer tourism. ArchaeoLink assisted in the establishment of a Young Archaeologist’s Club; organised a week-end excavation work-shop; produced a site-specific Educators’ ArchaeoResource Pack for schools; and is facilitating the establishment and promotion of traditional products’ workshops for visitors.
In recognising the benefits available to them, stakeholders select recommendations they wish to adopt. Stakeholder investment in time and energy helps to guarantee sustainability. ArchaeoLink’s high quality interpersonal skills, necessary for liaising with diverse stakeholders within the local community, and extensive experience assists them to shape and realise their objectives.
September 12, 2016
Basics of archaeological stratigraphy
Institute of Anthropological Research, Zagreb
This 30-minutes presentation provides a crash course on archaeological stratigraphy. It does not discuss composition of deposits, or how specific deposits are formed, or how they should be interpreted, but focuses entirely on establishing the order in which the deposits were laid down. Its aim is to answer two questions: (1) How does one establish the order of deposition (stratigraphic sequence) at a stratified archaeological site? (2) How can one illustrate that stratigraphic sequence by a simple diagram? The presentation introduces and briefly discusses the basic priciples of archaeological stratigraphy (following E. Harris), and illustrates those principles by an example of a simple, hypothetical stratified site. Stratigraphic relationships between units of stratification are analyzed, stratigraphic diagram of the site is constructed step-by-step, and finally the stratified site is divided into phases. Presentation is augmented and by animated graphics.
September 14, 2016
About sea level change and related topics
Department of Earth Sciences
University of Pisa
Sea level is a virtual concept. In fact the topography of the world’s oceans surface is continuously fluctuating and even the instantaneous elevation of this surface is different from place to place. We can conceptually differentiate short term from long term sea level changes. The former may be periodical, like tides, and can be measured through days, years and decades. The latter are normally not detected through direct measurement but are revealed using geological methods and their timing is therefore at the geological time scale.
In whatever way we measure sea level we need a reference (e.g. ellipsoid, geoid, average elevation value of a mareographer, ordnance datum of an official national elevation network, or other). Unfortunately scientists within the palaeo sea level research community do not use all the same reference. Sea level change are due to multiple causes. These are called the “components of sea level change” and altogether they are the variables of the “sea level equation”. They are namely 1) the change in the amount of water inside the ocean (eustatic component), 2) the vertical land movements (uplift, subsidence, glacioisostasy), 3) the change in oceans volume (hydroisostasy) 4) and finally the change in water temperature and/or density (steric component). In the long term what can be assessed is the relative sea level change. Sea level change can be assessed using 1) isotopic records; 2) modelling; 3) field evidence. Isotopic records are suitable to assess merely the eustatic component, modelling incorporates also the isostatic signal, whereas field evidence provides the relative effect of all components. Field evidence is produced by the so called “sea level markers”, that are particular landforms, sediments, biological remnants or human artefacts that testify a previous position of sea level, higher or lower than the one currently attained.
September 14, 2016
The Holocene sea level data-base Israeli
Department of Maritime Civilizations
Charney School of Marine Studies and the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies (RIMS)
University of Haifa
The coast of Israel, east Mediterranean is relatively tectonically stable and isostasy is low: ≥0.2mm/y in the Holocene (Sivan et al., 2001) and ~0.05 mm/y in the last 125ka (Sivan et al., 2016). The coast also contains a lot of archaeological remains on the coast and underwater, dating back mainly to the Holocene, with an emphasize on the last 3,000 years with additional bio-construction indicators (Dendropoma petraeum reefs at the edge of the abrasion platforms that exist along the Israeli coast).
Sivan et al. (2001), collected all relevant Holocene archaeological data on the coasts and underwater, divided it to different kinds of RSL indicators and tried to determine their vertical reliability. The Holocene curve is constrained by model prediction made by Prof. K. Lambeck. The observations were divided to: a. man-made structures that originally had relation to the RSL, e.g. pools, flushing channels, sewage channels, etc., b. coastal water wells and c. shipwrecks, differ by their vertical rate of accuracy. Later the study focused mainly on the last 2000 years based only on coastal water wells (Sivan et al., 2004) from Caesarea (southern Carmel coast) that was built by king Herod at the end of 1st century BC (from 22 to 10 BC). 64 coastal water wells were surveyed in an area of less than 1 km2 dating from early Roman period (1st century AD) to the end of the Crusader period (end of the 13th century AD). The RSL was found to be around present level in the Roman period, slightly higher in the Byzantine period, with significant relatively low levels (with an average of about 0.5m) in the Crusader period (11th to 13th century AD). The low levels were later studied in detailed (Toker et al., 2012). ) with results obtained from archaeological indications in various sites (mainly Akko and Atlit). Bio-construction indications, dated mainly to the last Millennium, were found to be in agreement (Sivan et al., 2010; Sisma- Ventura et al., 2014). Lately we re-assessed all previous RSL Israeli data, differentiated between data that obtain only SL constraints and index points, and found out that 121 out of 139 index points are defined reliable.
It can be therefore summarized: that the Israel database is continues and reliable (from tectonically stable area with negligible GIA effect) and therefore can serve as regional sea level reference. The Israeli results suggest near-present stable levels in most of the last 2000 years with lower levels in the first half of the last Millennium.
On-going research is focusing now on other east Mediterranean countries, mainly Greece, with an emphasize on the last Millennium low levels with plans to enlarge it to the east Adriatic sea.
Sisma-Ventura, G Yam, R., Shemesh, A. 2014. Recent unprecedented warming and oligotrophy of the eastern Mediterranean Sea within the last millennium, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060393.
Sivan, D., Wdowinski, S., Lambeck, K., Galili, E., Raban, A., 2001. Holocene sea-level changes along the Mediterranean coast of Israel, based on archaeological observations and numerical model. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 167, 101–117.
Sivan, D., Lambeck, K., Toueg, R., Raban, A., Porath, Y., Shirman, B., 2004. Ancient coastal wells of Caesarea Maritima, Israel, an indicator for sea level changes during the last 2000 years. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 222, 315–330.
Sivan, D., Schattner, U., Morhange, C., Boaretto, E., 2010.What can a sessile mollusk tell about the Neotectonics of EasternMediterranean? Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 296 (3–4), 451–458.
Sivan D., Sisma-Ventura G., Greenbaum N., Bialik O.M., Williams, F.Hs,. Tamisiea,M.E,, Rohling, E.J., Frumkin, A., Avnaim-Katav S., Shtienberg Gs., Stein M. Eastern Mediterranean sea levels through the last interglacial from a coastal-marine sequence in northern Israel. 2016. Quaternary Science Reviews (QSR), 204-225. DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.06.001
Toker, E., Sivan, D., Stern, E., Shirman, B., Tsimplis, M., Spada, G., 2012. Evidence for centennial scale sea level variability during the Medieval Climate Optimum (Crusader Period) in Israel, eastern Mediterranean. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 315–316, 51–61.
September 14, 2016
New estimates of Relative Sea Level from the last millennium in Greece, compared to the Israeli coast records
Benny Bechor & Dorit Sivan
Department of Maritime Civilizations
University of Haifa
This research, presents an interdisciplinary study linking archaeological evidence with historical accounts and geological processes. The study aims to search for archaeological and historical indicators to relative sea level (RSL) from the 12th Century to the early 17th Century in the Peloponnese and Aegean islands mostly on Venetian coastal constructions, evaluation of the changes in sea level, consideration of tectonic and isostatic contributions, and comparison of these results with those from Israeli coast studies.
Greece and the Aegean islands were heavily investigated before by many other scholars, who traced after sea-level changes for the late Holocene, but without focusing on the last millennium. The current study performed new observations, after a site survey in several places in the Peloponnese, Crete and Paros island.
The new estimates combine archaeological markers along the coastline with historical records such as: ancient maps, panoramic views and eyewitness description, evaluating the dating and the functional height of a specific archaeological indicators relative to the mean sea level (MSL) at the time of operation.
The tectonic contribution to RSL was evaluated using evidences of past earthquakes, from archaeological data and historical records. Although the study area is an active seismic zone with frequent earthquakes, this study did not indicate any influence of the seismic activity in the selected sites for the relevant period, and assumes that the tectonic contribution is negligible.
The contribution of glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) to RSL was calculated by spatial analysis on the selected sites for the relevant elapsed time period, using the public domain SELEN program.
This study, produced an eustatic sea-level curve for the Venetian coastal structures in the Peloponnese and Aegean islands. The curve (Figure 1) exhibits lower sea-level by about -1.0 m in the 12th Century, climbing gradually to around -0.20 m in the beginning of the 17th Century.
Comparison between the current study sea-level curve with those made on the Israeli coast for the Medieval time using only archaeological indicators, as presented in the Figure 1, exhibits some similarities. The current observations confirmed low sea level in the mid-12th Century, as observed in the Israeli coast in the mid-13th Century and the results are correlated with the trend of global sea level changes, for the last Era, with larger data sets. Moreover, the data points of the current study manage to fill the gap of missing archaeological index points in the Israeli studies between the years 1250AD to 1700AD presented in Figure 1.
On other hand, current study could not corroborate sea levels observed in the Israeli coast earlier then the 12th Century, probably due to shortage of archaeological sea level indicators (SLI) in Greece for this period.
Further high accuracy measurements are required, to better quantify of the East Mediterranean sea-level rise during the last millennium and to provide improved context for the assessment of the Medieval sea-level trends.
September 15, 2016
Sea level changes during the Quaternary
Department of Geology
University of Zagreb
The presentation started with deciphering the geological time frame, and the concept of “deep time”. Starting with the age of the Universe, Earth, life on Earth it came to Phanerozoic, Cenozoik, and Quaternary. Within the Quaternary (2.6 My) a discussion of proposed new epoch “Anthropocene” was discussed. Then the sealevel changes in geological history were presented, with their causes and consequences. Quaternary and especially Holocene sealevel changes were presented, and a global sealevel rise of 125 m since Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in the last 20.000 years was shown. Sealevel changes were illustrated with maps showing sea extent in the Adriatic basin, and around Dalmatian islands. Moreover, a profile from Vela Spila to the open sea was presented with seashore drift during sealevel rise. At the end the forecast of the climate and sealevel change was given.
September 19, 2016
Contextualizing Vela Spila into the Mediterranean Neolithic: the role of geoarchaeology
Department of Biology
University of Pisa
The Neolithic levels of Vela Spila are characterised by sediments showing peculiar characteristics: they form complex and usually long, well-bedded successions of black and white layers centimetres to millimetres thick; the layering is usually sub-horizontal or slightly domed and heap-like features are often observed; abrupt terminations and lateral facies changes are common. These successions are often intercalated with more or less homogeneous sediments and in general the colour contrast is striking, giving these sediments an appearance resembling ‘layer cakes’.
On average, these sequences contain relatively poor artefact assemblages.
Under a microscope, at high magnification, it can observed that the rather peculiar components of the white part of these sediments are the following.
– Phytoliths, i.e. 15-20 mm large silica bodies with peculiar shapes, which form inside the tissues of herbaceous plants.
– Spherulites, 8-10 mm wide calcium carbonate spheres that form inside the guts of small ruminants.
– Wood ash, comprised of small and regularly shaped calcium carbonate crystals.
At lower magnification, the phytoliths are arranged together with organic matter in fibres complexly organised in structures that resemble sheep/goat or cattle dung.
Conversely, the black layers are richer in large charcoal fragments, also associated with ash, spherulites and phytoliths.
The association of these components suggests that these layers derive mostly from the burning of herbivore dung (coprolites, phytoliths and spherulites) together with vegetal matter (charcoal, ash and phytoliths); bone, burnt bone, lithic artefacts, pottery shards and clods of burnt sediment are rather rare. Phytoliths were observed inside coprolites, and are systematically associated with spherulites, indicating that they mostly derive from herbivore dung.
Dung accumulated on the ground, which was covered by a vegetal litter made of straw and/or leaves or branches.
The black and white alternations of burnt layers indicate cyclical combustion of the dung and of the litter accumulated within the cave. This was probably done intentionally every year after the shepherds temporarily left the cave for their transhumance migration, to reduce the size of the dung accumulation and possibly also to sanitise the environment.
It can be concluded that Vela Spila was used for periodically stabling sheep and/or goats and possibly some cattle. People were probably living in parts of the cave where these sediments were not found, sharing part of the space with their animals.
Several Neolithic to Iron Age sites of coastal and inland Croatia, as well as all over the Mediterranean region contain these archaeological sediments, called with the French name fumiers, which are commonly interpreted as the product of pastoral activities, in a complex way of landscape exploitation that included agriculture in the lowlands and pastoralism on hills and plateaux.
September 20, 2016
Harvesting practices at the beginning of Mediterranean Neolithic: a lithic viewpoint
Fondation Fyssen postdoc
UMR 7055 «Préhistoire et Technologie»
CNRS-Université Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense
It is well established that between the 7.000 and the 5.000 BC the first domestic crops and animals were spread from the Near East to Europe; nevertheless, the mechanisms and the routes of such diffusion are yet to be unfolded. Until now, the diffusion of farming has been mainly studied by analyzing macro- and micro-botanical remains, studying both their morphometric and taxonomic variation and their genetic history. However, agro-pastoral systems can be also approached by studying the changes that such practices have produced into technology. New know-hows and tools appeared and pre-existent technologies were adapted to new economic tasks.
Two recent research projects are dealing with this topic through the study of the harvesting technologies: “Diffusion of Neolithic: agricultural technologies and innovations in the Central Mediterranean” funded with a post-doctoral grant by the Fyssen Fondation and the collective project “PRE-HADRIA: Le temps des moissons: l’arrivée des premières communautés d’agriculteurs en méditerranée centrale” funded by the Maison Archéologie & Ethnologie, René-Ginouvès. The main aim of these projects is to reconstruct the technical system related with production and use of harvesting tools in different regions of the Central Mediterranean: the Italian Peninsula, Dalmatian coast and Greece. Harvesting is, indeed, an economically and socially strategic task for Neolithic societies and the implementation of an appropriated reaping technology is a fundamental phase of agricultural production. The reconstruction of the type of harvesting method adopted is possible through the traceological analysis of the so‐called ‘sickle blades’. Indeed, use‐wear traces allow highlighting the existence of different types of hafting modes and, hence, different type of sickles and different harvesting gestures.
Preliminary results are showing that different harvesting tools and methods existed in the Central Mediterranean, differing both in terms of the technical system involved in the production of the sickles and in the type of agricultural product obtained through the harvesting.
September 22, 2016
DNA analysis – basic tools and techniques
Faculty of Sciences, University of Zagreb
Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Molecular Plant Breeding, Zagreb
DNA is a molecule that encodes all instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all living beings. Since it has a fascinating characteristic to translate these instructions from generation to generation, we can say that DNA is the only constancy in the history of life. It is a time traveller. As DNA is sometimes preserved in ancient human, animal, or plant remains, it is very interesting for archaeologists.
DNA keeps its secret in its chemical structure. It looks like a very long spiral ladder in which strong covalent bonds make two sugar-phosphate backbones. In the middle of this molecule, as steps of ladder, there are four bases (carriers of information) connected in pairs with weak hydrogen bonds. This combination of strong and weak bonds makes it possible for DNA to behave as a zipper. It is extremely important for its replication and role in growth, development and reproduction. To illustrate the size of information in every DNA in more than 37 trillion cells in our body, the best way is to translate the base pair number (bp) into text. To write a three-billion-base-pair-long text of the human DNA, consisting of only four letters (A = adenine, T = thymine, C = cytosine and G = guanine), we need at least thirty thousand books of one hundred pages.
When we have such big information, the problem is how to analyse it. We need methods to isolate DNA, amplify DNA and chemistry to determinate base order. Such chemistry is called sequencing and devices for carrying out it sequencers. Then we need powerful computers, good algorithms and computer programs. In the early days of the so-called 1st generation sequencing we could sequence only one DNA fragment of about 1000 bases in a single sequencer’s run. It was very tricky to make comparisons and conclusions between the past and today’s living beings using such a small fragment of information. It took 13 years (1990 – 2003) to sequence the complete human genome for the first time. Nowadays with the technology of 2nd and 3rd generations of sequencers we are able to sequence the whole human genome in two days, in devices of only 87 g and for only 1000 dollars. Today’s biggest challenge is not the price of devices or the chemistry, but development and application of new bioinformatics’ tools that can efficiently process so much data.
September 22, 2016
Genetic diversity of wild vs. cultivated/naturalized populations of Dalmatian sage
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zagreb
Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Molecular Plant Breeding, Zagreb
In order to introduce the research of CrEAMA’s Plant Genetics group to our MendTheGap colleagues from different scientific backgrounds, I presented our ongoing investigation on Dalmatian sage with the intent to explain how can molecular markers be used to reveal information about the past history of a species.
Dalmatian sage (Salvia officinalis L., Lamiaceae) is a well-known aromatic and medicinal Mediterranean plant that is native in coastal regions of the western Balkan and southern Apennine Peninsulas and is commonly cultivated worldwide.
We used eight microsatellite markers to investigate evolutionary history of indigenous populations as well as genetic diversity and structure within and among indigenous and cultivated/naturalised populations distributed across the Balkan Peninsula. The results showed a clear separation between the indigenous and cultivated/naturalised groups, with the cultivated material originating from one restricted geographical area. Most of the genetic diversity in both groups was attributable to differences among individuals within populations, although spatial genetic analysis of indigenous populations indicated the existence of isolation by distance.
Geographical structuring of indigenous populations was found using clustering analysis, with three sub-clusters of indigenous populations. The highest level of gene diversity and the greatest number of private alleles were found in the central part of the eastern Adriatic coast, while decreases in gene diversity and number of private alleles were evident towards the northwestern Adriatic coast and southern and eastern regions of the Balkan Peninsula.
The results of Ecological Niche Modelling during Last Glacial Maximum and Approximate Bayesian Computation suggested two plausible evolutionary trajectories: 1) the species survived in the glacial refugium in southern Adriatic coastal region with subsequent colonization events towards northern, eastern and southern Balkan Peninsula; 2) species survived in several refugia exhibiting concurrent divergence into three genetic groups.
September 26, 2016
Archaeological evidence for early wool exploitation in South East and Central Europe
Fachbereich Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaften
Institut für Prähistorische Archäologie
Freie Universität Berlin
The presented study of “Archaeological Evidence for Early Wool Processing in South East and Central Europe” focuses on clarifying the introduction of fleece baring sheep husbandry and the subsequent “textile revolution”. It is a part of a doctoral research project that was financially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) funded Cluster of Excellence 264 “Topoi” and its results report on a large textile tool sample compiled from a broad 26-site cluster across the Pannonian Plain region. Due to the rareness of actual textile evidence, the majority of research in the frame of prehistoric textile archaeology relies on different sources of information for the purpose of investigating raw materials. Unlike rare direct evidence, textile tools are well represented in the prehistoric contexts across the investigated region of the Pannonian Plain. The main methodology applied in this research fully exploits their potential for addressing the issues of textile fibre materials, techniques and final products. The proposed fibre innovation is investigated through changes in the eneolithic textile technologies that are interpreted within both their socio-cultural and environmental contexts. The relevance of the study lies mainly in its multi-regional and ‘cross-cultural’ characteristics; working within the particular sets of indirect archaeological evidence, specifically chosen on the basis of their association with fibre production and processing, enabled the analysis of a large number of textile tools from a wide geographical area. The main part of the textile tool analysis focuses on the comparison of the recorded spindle-whorl assemblages with the intention of recognizing and describing trends in raw fibre material procurement strategies.
September 28, 2016
Vela spila: 2016 – 2018
Dinko Radić & Preston Miracle
Vela Luka Culture Center
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge
This was a public presentation aimed at the local community of Vela Luka (Korčula, Croatia). We presented the ‘MendTheGap’ project, emphasizing the significance and role of Vela spila as a case study – focus and locus of summer schools and workshops. We summarized recent discoveries from Vela spila, giving particular attention to the following: 1) interpretation and publication of the assemblage of Pleistocene ceramics from the site; 2) analysis, radiocarbon dating, interpretation, and publication of Mesolithic human remains from the site; 3) recent excavations of Neolithic, Mesolithic, and Upper Palaeolithic deposits as part of the 2016 summer school. We then showed how Vela spila’s rich archaeological and palaeoenvironmental records are providing a catalyst for the integration of various sciences of the past (e.g. geomorphology, geoarchaeology, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany, archaeogenetics). Finally we suggested ways in which the archaeological heritage could provide tangible benefits to local communities in terms of education, sustainable tourism (promotion and prolongation of the tourist season), and sustainable development.