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Giulia Saltini Semerari

My research seeks to reconstruct and model diverse aspects of culture contact by harnessing the Mediterranean’s rich archaeological record. In particular, I am interested in understanding how small- and large-scale socioeconomic dynamics affect long-term fluctuations in connectivity. To do so, I focus on southern Italian communities and their long-term interactions with other Mediterranean regions. Within this broad framework, I am particularly interested in illuminating how gender organization is involved in these processes.


Project Amici

Retrieval of skeletal samples during the AMICI project

This project combines comprehensive bioarchaeological analyses with more traditional material culture studies. Its aim is to reconstruct interregional mobility and interaction patterns and to gauge their impact on the social and cultural development of coastal and inland communities of southern Italy before and after Greek colonization (which took place in the seventh century BCE).

The first phase of the project included biodistance analyses and strontium and oxygen isotope analysis of two colonial and three indigenous settlements spanning the tenth to the third centuries BCE. Preliminary results have helped illuminate shifts in long- and short-distance mobility. They have shown greater regional demographic integration following the arrival of Greek migrants and, contrary to expectations, a predominance of people with local ancestry within the colonies. This raises a number of historical and theoretical issues linked to the foundation of the colonies and construction of a colonial identity detached from the biological make-up of its population.

Project AMICI is carried out in collaboration with the Eberhard Karls Universiteit of Tübingen, the laboratory for GeoGenetics in Copenhagen, and Leiden University. Its research is ongoing, and we are aiming to test our previous results with aDNA analysis of our samples, while expanding our project in other critical Mediterranean contexts.

Measuring teeth: biodistance analyses of samples for the AMICI project

Taking aDNA samples in Basilicata

Excavation at Incoronata

Excavation at Incoronata (2021).

Incoronata is a prominent indigenous site situated on a vast terrace overlooking the Basento River valley in Basilicata, southern Italy. Multiple excavation projects over the years have uncovered a long history of occupation, dating from the end of the tenth to the early sixth century BCE. Over the years, my work has included archaeological and bioarchaeological analyses of the cemetery found on the northern edge of the plateau and, more recently, fieldwork on the highest area of the plateau. To date, this deeply stratified area, which has been the object of a 20-year excavation project by the University of Rennes 2, has produced extensive evidence of ritual and artisanal activities spanning the entire occupation of the site. Crucially, in the seventh century, this evidence also shows close interactions with newcomers from the Aegean. The excavation at Incoronata is ongoing. My research work there focuses on metal productions and the use of textile implements. I am also the vice-director of its field school.

Excavation at Incoronata (2022).

Working at the field lab

Sunset over inland Basilicata

Gender dynamics in the Mediterranean (“Gendyterranean”)

This collaborative research network, which includes scholars from European and US universities, aims to investigate the intersection of local gender dynamics with the global Mediterranean processes of colonization and urbanization at the turn of the Early Iron Age. The project has just begun with a session and a workshop (funded by the IRWG) at the European Association of Archaeologists’ 2022 Annual Meeting, and it will proceed with an edited volume of the proceedings. Its goal is to promote targeted collaborative studies to address, from a comparative perspective, specific aspects of these broad processes.