NSF REU Site: Immersive Research in the Bioarchaeology of Greek Colonization, Sicily, Italy

NSF LogoThis NSF REU Site (award nos.1560227;1560158) is an eight-week program offered jointly through the University of Georgia, the University of Northern Colorado, and the Università del Salento that promotes scientific literacy and global engagement among undergraduate students. Undergraduate students are integrated as junior partners of the Bioarchaeology of Mediterranean Colonies Project, a cross-disciplinary, international research program. REU students plan and execute independent research projects exploring biocultural impacts of Greek colonization on Sicilian populations, 7-5th c. BC. Currently, the project focuses on the Greek colony, Himera.

After an orientation at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia, USA, students travel to Sicily, Italy, for four weeks to collect bioarchaeological data from human skeletons, and then spend four weeks at UGA apprenticed in laboratories collecting and analyzing data.

In Sicily, students travel to local archaeological sites and museums and are immersed in Italian culture. At UGA, participants will live in UGA dormitories with other REU students at UGA, and participate in workshops and seminars, and work with dedicated mentors, receiving hands-on training for research projects.

Bioarchaeology REU students participate in all phases of the research process, including research design prior to the program start date, data collection, laboratory and data analyses, interpretation, and presentation of results. Students will:

  • Learn anthropological field and lab methods
  • Receive a weekly stipend of $500
  • Receive daily meal allowances
  • Have all lodging covered, as well as international travel up to the program maximum
  • Learn from American and Italian scholars
  • Visit Sicily's museums and archaeological sites
  • Learn STEM research methods
  • Live in Campofelice di Roccella, Italy and interact with Italian students and citizens
  • Remain in contact with faculty mentors for a year to publish results and present at conferences.


Students will leave the REU with greater technical and data analytical skills, better preparedness for graduate study and professional careers, and heightened awareness of global issues related to population contact, ethnogenesis, inequality, and health transitions. These skills are foundational for improving global citizenship and stewardship in any career.

2018 Program Dates: May 14 - July 6

The Research

"While science has the ability to answer all the world’s questions, humanities are the reason we have questions to answer in the first place." This student quote encapsulates the REU approach to researching the past.

REU participants are integrated as junior partners of the Bioarchaeology of Mediterranean Colonies Project, a cross-disciplinary, international research program. Students’ research projects will focus on investigating the relationships between colonists and locals at the Greek colony of Himera, and will concentrate on a major research question: What are the biocultural consequences of culture contact between human populations? Student projects can address this question by utilizing the approximately 12,000 skeletons that have been unearthed at Himera, including those from mass graves associated with the Battle of Himera (480 BC). Student research projects are independent, but complement each other, offering students a valuable opportunity to see how smaller research topics dovetail into bigger data sets toward collaboratively addressing anthropological research questions.

Colonization map

During the Archaic period, Greek city-states established colonies throughout the Mediterranean. This period saw much culture contact and interaction between human populations. Historically, colonization has had major impacts on human health and lifestyle. This NSF REU examines culture contact in the Greek Mediterranean, and its impacts on local populations in Sicily.

More on Greek colonization


American Co-Director: Dr. Britney Kyle, University of Northern Colorado

American Co-Director: Dr. Laurie Reitsema, University of Georgia

Italian Co-Director: Dr. Pier Francesco Fabbri, Università del Salento 

Italian Co-Director: Dr. Stefano Vassallo, Soprintendenza Palermo