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Hannah Liedl

Postgraduate Research Student

Postgraduate Research Student in the Department of Archaeology


Academic Background

2020 PhD Archaeology, Durham University (anticipated completion 2024)
2017-2018 MSc Palaeopathology, Durham University (Distinction)
2014-2017 MA Classical Archaeology, University of Vienna
2010-2014 BA Classical Archaeology, University of Vienna

Research Topic

The Birth of Democracy and its Impact on Health and Disease

The first half of the first millennium BC witnessed significant changes in the Eastern Mediterranean. After the so-called Dark Age following the collapse of the Mycenaean palatial centres, an increase in population levels led to the development of urban centres and the formation of poleis during the 8th century BC. The rise in population demanded new settlement organisation resulting in the establishment of democratic structures in 6th century Athens. While the position of the Athenian polis as an influential political, economic and sacred centre during the Classical period (480-320 BC) is undebated and its many achievements still have resonance today, comparatively little is known about its early beginnings in the Archaic period (700-480 BC) or the lives of the people under its influence.
My PhD project aims to examine the impact of these processes on the lives of the general population in Athens and will address several research questions concerning how the profound political changes affected the lived experience of the Athenian population.
The project will focus on human skeletal remains excavated from the cemetery at Phaleron, the original port of Athens, which was used for the burial of the non-elite population from the 8th until the 5th century BC. Analysis of these individuals will allow an investigation into changes in health and diet linked to the polis formation. A comparison of contrasting social groups identified within the cemetery (e.g. ‘slaves’ vs. citizens; males vs. females) will provide a greater understanding of the inter-sectional effects of these political changes on differing subsections of the population.
The remains from the Phaleron cemetery will be the first mortuary remains from archaic Athens to be studied systematically. This project has the potential to uncover new information about living conditions of the non-elite population, a social class often underrepresented in the historical and archaeological record, and how the polis community treated marginalised groups. This will help advance the overall understanding of polis formation and organisation.