March 2020: Xenia Kyriakou, Florida Gulf Coast University

The Bioarchaeology of Monasticism: The Unruly Nuns of Cyprus

Date: March 18, 2020 Time: 7:00pm Location: IMAG, Ft. Myers, FL

Early Cistercians, a Catholic order of monks and nuns was founded in A.D. 1098 to follow the strict Rule of Saint Benedict. Practitioners are typically believed to have lived obedient, simple lives toiling in agricultural fields and eating only coarse bread, vegetables and herbs.
However, word spread of feasts and parties leading to Gerald of Wales calling the Cistercians hypocrites! Chemical analysis of human skeletal remains found at the St.  Theodore nunnery on Cyprus sheds new light on the private lives of the Cistercians, whose monastery was dissolved in 1549. This presentation will reveal and contextualize the findings of the skeletal analysis within the socio-cultural context of medieval monasticism.


Xenia Kyriakou is a Greek-Cypriot forensic anthropologist and bioarchaeologist who is currently a Visiting Instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University. Xenia holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Malta and is soon to complete her PhD at the University of Warsaw, Poland. Xenia has worked with the repatriation of those missing in armed-conflict and as a bioarchaeologist for archaeological projects. She is currently working on a research project that addresses behavior and lifestyle within monastic and religious settings of Medieval Europe.