International Day of Women and Girls in Science: The View from the Keros Project

by Evi Margaritis, Associate Editor of Archaeobotany

If you visit the website of the United Nations, you will find out that ‘gender equality’ is categorised as ‘the unfinished business of our time’. Women and girls represent half of the world’s population, and thus half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Although conscientious effort has been made in the recent decades, gender stereotypes and biases that are deeply rooted in our societies are still scaring girls and women away from science related fields. Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; however, we are far from achieving gender equality in academia, education, and beyond. As an attempt to raise the awareness of this salient issue, the United Nations General Assembly has declared that the 11th February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This day provides an opportunity to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.

In Archaeological Science, the situation is far from satisfactory; however, there are a lot of women leaders in their respective specialisations. In Cyprus, Dr Evi Margaritis, Associate Professor in Archaeobotany of the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, was invited to give a talk to celebrate the International Day of Women in Science. Dr Margaritis talked about the research project of Keros (Greece), directed by Professor Renfrew and Dr Michael Boyd.

Keros is one of the most interdisciplinary projects in the eastern Mediterranean, where a broad range of archaeological science methods and techniques were used in order to understand the nature of one of the most complicated archaeological sites in the Aegean Bronze Age. In the small arid island of the Cyclades, at the dawn of the third millennium BCE, a number of unique factors intertwined, paving the way for the processes of urbanisation to take place. This had allowed for Keros to stand out from its contemporaries, being the focal point of an extensive network with far-flung communities. The fascinating picture of Bronze Age Keros is now slowly unfolding, thanks to the work of different archaeological scientists, and many of them are women. 

Dr Margaritis is the Assistant Director of the Keros project, and the head of the Environmental Studies. She and Dr Ozgur Cicer are responsible for the analyses of the botanical remains. Drs Myrto Georgakopoulou and Myrsini Gkouma are leading the archaeometallurgical and micromorphological research, respectively. Dr Ioanna Moutafi is the field director, who is also in charge of the study of the human remains. Dr Georgia Tsartsidou focuses on the study of phytolith, whereas Drs Maria Ntinou and Antigoni Mavromati specialise on charcoal. Dr Jill Hildich is leading the ceramic petrography project, while Drs Katerina Papagiannis and Tatiana Theodoropoulou focus on the study of the microfauna, fish bones and shells, respectively. Dr Tamsin O’Connell is in charge of the isotope analysis, while Marisia Deligiorghi and Marina Faka play key role on the 3D documentation of the site. 

Dr Margaritis and her team processing the botanical remains in Keros (Photo credit: Evi Margaritis).