Students to Analyze Skeletons from Ancient City in Italy

Research Part of Grant Awarded to UNC Collaborative Bioarchaelogical Project

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant for a summer research experience for undergraduates who will gather data from more than 12,000 skeletons excavated from an ancient Sicilian city to learn more about the health and lifestyle of the population.

The grant-funded opportunity is part of the Bioarcheology of Mediterranean Colonies Project directed by UNC Anthropology Assistant Professor Britney Kyle.

Students selected from applicants throughout the United States will travel to Sicily in three cohort groups of eight each during the next three summers to conduct independent research projects. There they will gather data from excavations — including those from mass graves associated with the Battle of Himera (480 B.C.) — in the ancient Greek colony of Himera.

Students will work alongside Kyle and other faculty researchers to study the effect of ancient Greek colonization on Sicilian populations dating from the 7th to 5th centuries B.C. When they return to the United States, they will analyze DNA and isotopes in a mentored lab setting to learn about the colonists' health and lifestyle. The students will publish their results and present at conferences throughout their yearlong commitment to the project.

"Students will leave the (project) 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," according to the project's abstract.

Applications for this year's cohort group are due March 25. For more information, visit

About the Grant

Project title: Collaborative Research: Immersive Research in the Bioarcheology of Greek Colonization, Sicily, Italy

Grant Award: $372,887 over three years ($124,762, UNC component)

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Co-directors: Britney Kyle, Ph.D., UNC; Laurie Reitsema, Ph.D., University of Georgia; Pier Francesco Fabric, Università del Salento; Stefano Vassallo, Soprintendenza Palermo