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The archaeology of death: training in archaeothanatology for archaeologists

Explore the specific problems of archaeo-anthropology and archaeology of death

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CIVIS focus area
Society, culture, heritage
Open to
  • Master's
  • Phd
Field of studies
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Short-term
  • CIVIS Hub 2
Course dates
April 2022 & May 2022

The purpose of this thematic school is to initiate or perfect students in archaeology to the specific problems and stakes of archaeo-anthropology and archaeology of death. The aim is not to provide training in biological anthropology, which requires the completion of a complete curriculum but to raise the awareness of those involved in archaeology to the specific questions encountered when excavating and studying funerary structures and funerary sites.

The aim of this training is therefore to enable archaeologists and historians to integrate into their thinking the questions specific to archaeo-anthropology, from the earliest stages of the work, in order to create a synergy conducive to an optimised study, an in-depth analysis and the creation of quality primary data that can be used, transmitted and sustained.

The target public is therefore preferably archaeologists, who wish to acquire this awareness of the specific issues of funerary archaeology, in order to dialogue with anthropologists.

Main topics addressed

  • Problems of the archaeology of death: why do we study a funerary structure or un funerary site? The excavation and the study of funerary structures is the starting point for an extensive historical and conceptual reflection. The archaeology of death is a discipline that combines biological, archaeological and historical issues. This obviously leads to the acquisition of a specific disciplinary vocabulary.
  • The stakes involved in the study of funerary structures: the need for a specific, interdisciplinary approach, through close collaboration between, at least, archaeologists and anthropologists. Collaboration is also desirable and desired with any other discipline that allows optimal development of reflections on practices (anthracology, palynology, carpology, ceramology, architecture, geomorphology, etc).
  • The various funerary or mortuary practices during different times and in different spaces: specific issues and methods of study (burial, cremation, the case of large funerary complexes, etc).
  • Field study methods: excavation of funerary structures and recording of data for an optimal reflection.
  • Laboratory study: initiation to human osteology and skeletal study methods - making methodological choices in order to answer historical questions.

Learning outcomes

1. Theoretical school

  • Problems of the archaeology of Death
  • Stakes involved in the study of funerary structures
  • Variability of funerary or mortuary practices
  • Initiation to human osteology and skeletal study methods

2. Field school 

  • Identifying grave cuts
  • Skeletal ID & excavation of funerary structures
  • Taphonomical recording
  • Sampling and more!
Dates: 4-8 April & 16-27 May 2022 Location: Marathon, Greece
Format: Blended CIVIS scholarships: 6
Language: English (B1) Weekly study: 35 hours


This CIVIS course will be running for 3 weeks in total: 1 week of online sessions and 2 weeks on the field. 

  • 4-8 April 2022: theoretical courses (virtual activities, online)
  • 16-27 May 2022: fieldwork in Marathon, Greece (physical activities)


This CIVIS course is mainly open to Master's & PhD students at one of CIVIS member universities. Previous fieldwork experience in archaeology is mandatory.

However, undergraduates with good field experience can also apply.

Applicants should meet the following criteria: 

  • Have previous experience in archaeological excavations (in general archaeology, not specifically in graves excavation)
  • Have a good English level
  • Have a good physical and health condition
  • Be up to date with the mandatory vaccinations
  • Be able to work in a team
  • Be able to live in a community

Application process

Interested students should send a CV (detailing their previous fieldwork experience) and a motivation letter in English to Gaëlle Granier -

The application deadline is 10 March 2022.

Selected students will be notified during the second part of March 2022.


Evaluation of student progress will take place throughout the fieldwork phase. The evaluation criteria are the following: 

  • Involvement in teamwork
  • Progress in archaeothanatology
  • Adaptability
  • Ability to work on the field
  • Ability to integrate funerary issues
  • Ability to adapt excavation methodology
  • Ability to think globally

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

  • Gaëlle Granier, Archaeo-Anthropologist
  • Reine-Marie Bérard, Funerary Archaeologist
  • Valentin Bottez, Archaeologist
  • Alexandra Țarlea, Archaeologist
  • Didier Viviers, Archaeologist
  • Athéna Tsingarida, Archaeologist
  • Vivi Saripanidi, Archaeologist
  • Giorgos Vavouranakis, Archaeologist
  • Yiannis Papadatos, Archaeologist
  • Nikolas Dimakis, Archaeologist