About the project

 

BIRTH is a 5 year research project financed by the European Research Conucil and led by Professor Sofija Stefanović  at the BioSense Institute in Novi Sad, Serbia. The BIRTH project will investigate the key biological and cultural mechanisms affecting fertility rates resulting in the Neolithic Demographic Transition, the major demographic shift in human evolution. We integrate skeletal markers with micro-nutritional and macro-scaled cultural effects on fertility rates during the Early-Middle Holocene (10000-5000 BC) in the Central Balkans. Human, animal and plant remains, will be analysed using methods from bioarchaeological, forensic, chemical sciences in order to:

  1. Investigate variability in the patter of birth rates (number of pregnancies, interval(s) between them and the duration of the reproductive period) though historical analysis of irregularities in tooth cementum of women;
  2. Determine paleoobsteric and neonatal body characteristics, health status and nutrition through analysis of skeletal remains;
  3. Determine micronutritional changes during the Early-Middle Holocene through trace element (Zn, Ca and Fe) analysis;
  4. Investigate the micro and macronutritional value of prehistoric foodstuffs, through an analysis of animal and plant remains and to compare the nutritional intake in relation to health and fertility;
  5. Establish a chronology of the NDT in the Balkans by summed radiocarbon probability distributions;
  6. Explore the possible role of culture in driving fertility increases, through analysis of community attitudes to birthing through investigation of artefact connected to the birthing process.

 

 

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Meet our team

Dr Sofija Stefanović

Dr Sofija Stefanović

Professor, BIRTH Project Principal Investigator

Physical anthropologist, coordinates the project and investigates skeletal paleoobstetric evidence, neonatal growth and development, and the role of macro and micro nutrients in reproductive success and health. Furthermore, she is exploring possible archaeological indicators of prehistoric community concern for birthing and baby care.

Dr Vesna Dimitrijević

Dr Vesna Dimitrijević

Professor, Senior ERC Researcher

Archaeozoologist, coordinates analysis of animal remains and investigates different aspects of the significance of animals for human communities during the early stages of animal domestication.

Dr Marko Porčić

Dr Marko Porčić

Associate Professor, Senior ERC Researcher

Archaeologist, coordinates the reconstruction of population dynamics and develops methods for the reconstruction of demographic aspects of prehistoric populations based on skeletal and other kinds of archaeological evidence.

Dr Bojan Petrović

Dr Bojan Petrović

Associate Professor, Senior ERC Researcher

Paediatric dentist, investigates dental aspects of health and nutrition through the analysis of bite marks, characterization of bone and dental tissues, simulation of interactions between these structures and elemental analysis using SEM, EDX and nanoindentation techniques.

Dr Dragana Filipović

Dr Dragana Filipović

Senior ERC Researcher

Archaeobotanist, investigates the use of plants, their role in the diet and economy, and the scale and intensity of crop cultivation at the time of the emergence and spread of agriculture.

Dr Darko Stojanovski

Dr Darko Stojanovski

senior ERC researcher

Archaeologist; investigates
organic residue (lipids) from
Neolithic pottery, as a way of
reconstructing human diet and the
relationship between humans and
their environment at the beginning of
farming and sedentary lifestyle.

Kristina Penezić

Kristina Penezić

ERC Researcher

Archaeologist, investigates skeletal evidence of fertility through the analysis of irregularities in the tooth cementum which occurs in pregnancy, namely the width and degree of mineralization of incremental lines.

Jelena Jovanović

Jelena Jovanović

ERC Researcher

Physical anthropologist, investigates skeletal evidence of health and nutrition and paleoobstetric data through the analysis of female pelvic bones and neonatal bones by 3D reconstruction.

Ivana Živaljević

Ivana Živaljević

ERC Researcher

Archaeozoologist, investigates macro and micronutritive potential of diet, especially the role and effects of an aquatic diet on human health and fertility.

Tamara Blagojević

Tamara Blagojević

ERC Researcher

Archaeologist, reconstructs population dynamics using the method of summed radiocarbon probability distributions.

Jugoslav Pendić

Jugoslav Pendić

ERC Researcher

Archaeologist, involved in geopositioning of archaeological sites investigated within the project. He is also involved in 3D photography of archaeological material analyzed within the project using photogrammerty and 3D visualization.

MSc. Sanja Kojić

MSc. Sanja Kojić

Research Associate

Master of Power, Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering with wide expertise in characterization techniques (SEM, 3D profile Microscopy, Optical Microscopy, Nanoindentation techniques) used in Micro and Nano Electronic, Bio-medicine and Dentistry and Data Base forming and maintenance. For BIRTH project in-charged for all kinds of Microscopy, Nanoindentation and Data Base forming.

Ivana Bulj

Ivana Bulj

BIRTH project manager

Philologist, manages the administrative aspects of the project, organises activities and coordinates tasks regarding successful implementation of the project.

Mina Amzirkov

Mina Amzirkov

Archaeology Student

Archaeology student, assists in database systematization and sample preparation.

Collaborators

Richard Evershed

Richard Evershed

Head of the Organic Geochemistry Unit, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol

Collaborating on the extraction and analyses of organic residues (lipids) from archaeological pot-shards from four Neolithic sites in the Balkan Peninsula. This should give us an insight into the diet of the people in prehistory, the function of the different pots, as well as the introduction and consumption of milk and dairy products at this early stage of farming.

Anđelka Putica

Anđelka Putica

The Town Museum of Sombor, Serbia

BIRTH project collaborates with AnđelkaPutica on various topics, including research on the Early Neolithic sites of Magareći mlin and Topole-Bač (archaeological background, the analysis of the pottery assemblages, providing access to the osteological material for anthropological and archaeozoological analyses and pottery for lipid analyses).

Darko Radmanović

Darko Radmanović

Museum of Vojvodina, Serbia

BIRTH project collaborates with archaeozoologist Darko Radmanović on the analysis of faunal remains from the Early Neolithic site of Golokut-Vizić.