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Susan Kirkpatrick Smith (left center) studying human remains from Roman tombs in Ierapetra with her students at INSTAP SCEC.

Susan Kirkpatrick Smith, Ph.D. Dept. of Geography and Anthropology Kennesaw State University

Susan Kirkpatrick Smith has been working on human osteology projects at the Study Center for the past 10 years. The projects were largely directed by members of the Lasithi Ephorate of Antiquities and include graves from Hagios Nikolaos, Itanos, Palaikastro, Meseleroi, Chryssi, and Ierapetra dated to the Bronze Age, Archaic, Hellenistic, and Roman periods.

Human osteology is an area of study that allows for the closest possible analysis of individuals who lived in the past. From human remains we can learn the demographic profile of a person, such as age at death, sex, and stature. There is, however, much more that the skeleton can teach us. Smith is interested in patterns of pathology and how they relate to aspects of daily life for people in the past. She is also interested in investigating diachronic change, particularly between the Hellenistic and Roman periods, as it relates to health, diet, and activity.

The Study Center provides the space needed for storing and strewing the bones from archaeological sites in East Crete. The bones sometimes require the attention of the conservation staff—in the form of X-rays or the micro-excavation of artifacts found embedded in the soil on the skeletons. Smith uses the facilities to conduct her research in a field school format. Anthropology students from Kennesaw State University benefit from being able to study human remains from archaeological contexts in Greece, as this type of research on ancient human remains is difficult to conduct in the United States due to federal laws restricting their excavation and study. The Study Center therefore provides important research and teaching space.

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