Dr Louise Steel BA (Hons); PhD

Reader in Mediterranean Archaeology


Tel: +44 (0)1570 424794
E-mail: l.steel@uwtsd.ac.uk

Louise Steel

  • Programme Director Ancient History and Archaeology  (SH)
  • Programme Director Ancient Civilisations
  • Classics REF working group (2013)
  • Archaeology Research & REF working group (from 2014)

I am currently Senior Lecturer in Mediterranean Archaeology and have worked at Lampeter since 2000. I have been involved in Cypriot archaeology for some twenty five years and have been involved in various research projects on the island.

Since 2004 I have directed a fieldwork project at Arediou, which led to an AHRC funded community archaeology project (Hidden Pasts) under the Care for the Future Scheme in 2013.

Prior to this (1998-2000) I co-directed the Gaza Research Project with Dr Joanne Clarke (UEA) and Dr Moain Sadeq (then director of the Palestinian Department of Antiquities, Gaza), during which time I was based at the British Institute of Archaeology at Jersualem.

Between 1995 and 1998 I held a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. My research examined Mycenaean pottery imported to the Levant. I also spent a few months in 1999 at the Maison de l’Orient, Lyons working on the archives from Ugarit and Tell Abu Hawam.

My PhD thesis examined burial practices on Cyprus at the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age, but subsequently my research has focused on interactions in the East Mediterranean (Cyprus, the Aegean and the Levant) and the impact on material worlds of ancient communities.

  • Peer Review College, AHRC
  • American Schools of Oriental Research

My teaching is research-led and focuses on theoretically informed archaeologies, with particular emphasis on the Bronze Age East Mediterranean. I convene the following modules:


Towns, Tombs and Temples: Household Production and Ritual Action in the East Mediterranean.

This module applies theoretical approaches to social reproduction, agency, the household, and ritual performance to a series of case studies drawn from the Bronze Age Aegean, Cyprus and Levant.


Hieroglyphs, Text and Society.

This module examines the origins of writing and impact of literacy on communities of the Bronze Age Near East and Aegean. The students are also introduced to the Egyptian Hieroglyphs. (Co-taught)

Connected Worlds: Exploring Interactions between Egypt, the Aegean and the East

In this module students are introduced to theoretical perspectives of cultural contact and exchange. These are then applied to a variety of case studies drawn from Egypt, the Aegean and the Near East. (co-taught)

Theory Methods and Practice: Critical Perspectives

The students are guided through a range of archaeological theories which they are encouraged to apply to an archaeological assemblage or dataset of their choice.

I also contribute to Origins and Innovations and look specifically at the origins of sedentism, towns and states.


Pharaohs, Phoenicians and Peoples of the Sea

An introduction to the archaeology of the East Mediterranean, looking at a range of Bronze and Early Iron cultures from the region.

Themes and Theories

This module introduces students to a history of ideas that have become central to research within the humanities.

I also contribute to Interactions with the Environment: Making Things, Transforming Things, looking at entangled relationships between people and clay (pottery and figurines).

I contribute to the MA in Ancient Religions and convene the module Spaces, Places and Objects in the Ancient Mediterranean.

I am supervising MA research on Minoan religion and Neolithic Art and Religion in the Near East.

Current PhD students are working on “The Symbolism of the Rosette in Egypt the Aegean and the East” and “Art at Neolithic Çatal Hüyük”.

Recent research students have worked on topics such “Cycladic Figurines”; “Narratives of Collapse in the East Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age”); and “Examining the Minoan-Mycenaean World from the Symbolism of Homer’s Odyssey” (with the Open University).

My Research interests are:

  • Late Bronze Age Cyprus
  • Interconnections in the Bronze Age Mediterranean
  • Materiality: with a special focus on ancient pottery (Late Bronze Age Cyprus, Mycenaean pottery in the East)
  • Representations in the East Mediterranean

I am currently preparing a monograph to publish excavations at Arediou-Vouppes (Lithosouros), Cyprus. This is a Late Bronze Age farming and production site with evidence for trading contacts with Egypt, the Aegean and the Levant. Fieldwork was funded by INSTAP, CBRL, Society of Antiquaries London, Prehistoric Society.

2013: Hidden Pasts is a new project, funded by the AHRC (Care for the Future scheme) to explore the local community at Arediou’s engagement with their archaeological heritage and more recent historical past.

Between 1996 and 2000 I co-directed the Gaza Research Project with Dr J. Clarke (UEA) and Dr M. Sadeq (Department of Antiquities, Gaza). This involved survey of old city of Gaza and excavations at al-Moghraqa.

My main research interest is material culture studies – in particular the renegotiation of meaning encoded in material culture through cross-cultural exchange and entangled objects.

In particular I have been working on Mycenaean pottery exported to the East Mediterranean (Cyprus, the Levant and Egypt), to examine the cultural and intellectual consequences of this exchange (how specific items of material culture are incorporated and re-consumed within new cultural contexts ).

One aspect of this work has been a re-assessment of feasting practices in Cyprus and Mycenaean Greece. This has resulted most recently in a workshop Embodied Encounters: Exploring the Materialities of Food ‘Stuffs’ planned for May 2014 and co-organised with Dr Emma-Jayne Abbots and Dr Katharina Zinn. Another area of interest, which I have primarily developed through supervision of research students, is ancient representations and the anthropology of art.

My ongoing research interests in Cyprus have involved work on the Late Bronze Age ceramic assemblages at Kalavasos-Ayios Dhimitrios and Maroni-Tsaroukkas.

I have also studied Cypriot imports to the southern Levant, at Deir el-Balah and Tell Batash. My interests in the household use of ceramics is now proving beneficial in relation to my current fieldwork at Arediou-Vouppes, where a fascinating insight into the domestic culture of a rural community is beginning to emerge.


My primary expertise is Cypriot archaeology, in particular the Late Bronze Age. As such I have contributed to various archaeological encyclopaedia and handbooks and am currently preparing two contributions on Iron Age Cyprus for the Cambridge Companion to the Greek Iron Age.

I am an expert in Late Bronze Age pottery from Cyprus and Mycenaean imported pottery in the Near East and have contributed to the following research projects in this capacity:

  • 1998-1999 Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Tell Batash, Israel (Cypriot and Mycenaean imports)
  • 1998-1999 Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Deir el-Balah, Gaza (Cypriot and Mycenaean imports)
  • 1995-1998 University of Reading: Maroni Tsaroukkas, Cyprus (Cypriot pottery, Mycenaean imports)
  • 1993 Fitch Laboratory, British School at Athens: chemical characterisation of Cypriot Iron Age Pottery
  • 1990-2000 Brandeis University,  Vasilikos Valley Project, Kalavasos Ayios Dhimitrios, Cyprus (Cypriot pottery and Mycenaean imports)

The Arediou Vouppes project has been examining a Late Bronze Age settlement in the Cypriot rural hinterland, specifically focusing on the archaeological characterisation of a little-known type of agricultural site.

A key aspect of the project has been to promote a wider understanding of the value and relevance of the past (both recent and ancient) as a means of safeguarding the archaeological record for future generations through the encouragement of local engagement in the construction of narratives of cultural heritage.

Our primary beneficiaries have been identified as members of the local Cypriot community at Arediou, although we have also sought to foster an improved sensitivity to community perspectives of ‘the past’ from heritage custodians in Cyprus which will inform their practice.

As a result of UWTSD funding and the subsequent AHRC grant, we have conducted three separate hands-on archaeology sessions at the local schools, two with around twenty-thirty children and the third with around sixty children (ages 6-11).

The children had the opportunity to handle various artefacts uncovered at their site. A key aim here was for them not only to reconsider how these were used and what they might tell us about the ancient community, but equally to emphasise the importance of smaller, fragmentary, more ephemeral remains that otherwise might be overlooked, and how these also contribute to our understanding of the past.

We supplied the teachers with photographs of the excavation which they have used in follow up archaeology classes, in which the children wrote about and/or drew the finds they had handled and the archaeologists they had met.  As a result of our engagement with the local school and the wider community on a more informal basis we have seen a real interest in the community archaeology on the part of the children and also their parents.

The children demonstrated a good knowledge and understanding of their heritage and in particular the importance of Cyprus during the Late Bronze Age during the most recent hands-on session: knowing the age of the site, the significance of copper production and the agricultural role – which they were able to relate to more recent experiences in the village. Regular contact within the wider community (in local kafeneia and small businesses) clearly shows that this has impacted the wider community’s understanding of their ancient heritage and the importance of the archaeology.

At the end of each season of fieldwork (between 2004 and 2008) the excavation team prepared a display of the key finds of the season for the local community, labelled in Greek. The exhibitions were held in conjunction with the village council who hosted a barbecue for the community.

The aspiration of the local community, for which we have secured AHRC funding to help develop, is to establish a permanent exhibition space at Arediou, in the newly-built Civic Centre. While UWTSD will provide academic expertise, in particular the eventual choice of artefacts that will provide a representative narrative of the archaeology, we will also be making available an interpretative framework for the archaeology



  • 2013 Materiality and Consumption in the Bronze Age Mediterranean. New York; London: Routledge.
  • 2004 Cyprus Before History. From the Earliest Settlers to the End of the Bronze Age. London: Duckworth Publishing

Contributions to books

2014 Late Bronze Age Cyprus. Pp 571-85 in M. Steiner and A. Killebrew (eds), Oxford Handbook of the Ancient Levant. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • 2010 Cyprus. Pp 804-19 in E. Cline (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • 2008 Imported Mycenaean, Minoan and Cypriot Pottery and Local Imitations. Pp. 122-31 in T. Dothan, Deir el-Balah: Uncovering an Egyptian Outpost in Canaan from the Time of the Exodus. Jerusalem: The Israel Museum.
  • 2007 Egypt and the Mediterranean World. Pp. 459-75 in T. Wilkinson (ed.), The Egyptian World. London: Routledge.
  • 2006 Cypriot and Mycenaean Pottery. Chapter 3, pp.151-72, in N. Panitz-Cohen and A. Mazar, Timnah Tel Batash III. The Finds from the Second Millennium BCE. QEDEM 45. Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Jerusalem: Old City Press.

ARTICLES since 2000 (peer reviewed)

2013 The Social World of Early-Middle Bronze Age Cyprus: Rethinking the Vounous Bowl. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 26(1): 51-73.

2010 Late Cypriot Ceramic Production: Hetararchy or Hierarchy? Pp. 106-16 in L. Maguire and D. Bolger (eds), The Development of Pre-State Communities in the Ancient Near East: Studies in Honour of Edgar Peltenburg. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

2009 Creation and Expression of Identity in Cyprus at the End of the Late Bronze Age. Pp. 154-175 in C. Gallou, M. Georgiadis, G.M. Muskett (eds), DIOSCURI. Studies presented to W.G. Cavanagh and C.B. Mee on the Anniversary of their 30-Year Joint Contribution to Aegean Archaeology. Oxford: BAR IS 1889.

2009 Exploring Regional Settlement on Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age: the Rural Hinterland. Pp. 135-45 in I. Hein (ed.), The Formation of Cyprus in the 2nd Millennium BC. Studies in Regionalism During the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press.

2008 Survey at Arediou Vouppes (Lithosouros): A Late Bronze Age Agricultural Settlement on Cyprus. A Preliminary Analysis of the Material Culture Assemblages. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 351: 9-37. (with C. McCartney)

2007 Red Lustrous Wheelmade Ware from Kalavasos. Pp. 179-190 in I. Hein (ed.), The Lustrous Wares of Late Bronze Age Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. (with A. South)

2006 Women in Mycenaean Pictorial Vase Painting. In E. Rystedt and B. Wells (eds), Pictorial Pursuits. Figurative Painting on Mycenaean and Geometric Pottery. Stockholm: Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae 3, LIII, 47-55.

2004 Egyptian ‘Funerary Cones’ from el-Moghraqa, Gaza. The Antiquaries Journal 84: 319-33. (with W.P. Manley, J. Clarke, M. Sadeq)

2004 A Goodly Feast…A Cup of Mellow Wine: Feasting in Bronze Age Cyprus. Pp. 161-80 in J. Wright (ed.), in The Mycenaean Feast. Hesperia 73/2.

2004 A Reappraisal of the Distribution, Context and Function of Mycenaean Pottery in Cyprus. Pp. 69-85 in J. Balensi, J.-Y. Monchambert, S. Müller-Celka (eds), La Céramique Mycénienne entre l’Egée et le Levant. Table Rond à la Mémoire de Vronwy Hankey. Travaux de la Masion de l’Orient, Lyon.

2004 Gaza Research Project. Report of 1999 and 2000 Seasons at Moghraqa. Levant 36: 37-88. (with J. Clarke, M. Sadeq, B. Manley).

2004 Gaza Research Project: 1998 Survey of the Old City of Gaza. Levant 36: 31-6. (J. Clarke, M. Sadeq)

2002 Wine, Women and Song: Drinking Ritual in Cyprus During the Late Bronze Age. Pp. 105-19 in D. Bolger and N. Serwint (eds), Engendering Aphrodite: Women and Archaeology in Ancient Cyprus. ASOR Archaeological reports 7/CAARI Monographs 3. Boston, MA: American Schools of Oriental Research.

2002 Consuming Passions: A Contextual Study of the Consumption of Mycenaean Pottery at Tell el-‘Ajjul. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 15(1): 25-54.

2001 The British Museum and the Invention of the Cypriot Late Bronze Age. Pp. 160-7 in V. Tatton-Brown (ed.), Cyprus in the Nineteenth Century A.D. Fact, Fancy and Fiction. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

2001 The White Slip Sequence at Kalavasos. Pp. 65-74 in V. Karageorghis (ed.), The White Slip Ware of Late Bronze Age Cyprus. Vienna: Austrian Academy. (with A. South) 

Contribution to Encyclopaedia

2006 Cyprus; East Greece; Euboia; Human Sacrifice; Lefkandi. Pp. 249, 295-7, 331-2; 446; 510 in G. Shipley, J. Vanderspoel, D. Mattingley, L. Foxhall (eds), The Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilisations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2004 Knossos. Chapter 5.14.1 in P. Bogucki and P.J. Crabtree (eds.), Ancient Europe, 8000 B.C. - A.D. 1000: Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World. Princeton University and New York University: Scribners.

2001 Cyprus; Philistines (Sea Peoples). Pp. 128-29, 391 in A. Negev and S. Gibson (eds), Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land. Continuum: New York – London.

Funded research

Hidden Pasts: Developing narratives for community archaeology and local history at Arediou, Cyprus AHRC (Care for the Future scheme) - 2013: £30,000.


  • Exploring a Late Bronze Age community at Arediou, Cyprus (fieldwork project)
  • Institute for Aegean Prehistory - 2008 (July-August): £6000.
  • Council for British Research in the Levant - 2006 (July-August): £3500.
  • Council for British Research in the Levant - 2005 (July-August): £4400.
  • Council for British Research in the Levant - 2004 (July): £4244.

Membership of Research Council or other committees / advisory panels

  • AHRC peer review college since 2006; member of the AHRC Archaeology and Heritage panel

Examination of Research Degrees

  • PhDs: University of Glasgow (2012), Liverpool (2012, 2013); & Edinburgh (2008, 2011)
  • MPhils: University of Glasgow (2006), University of Edinburgh (2005)

Refereeing publications and proposals:

  • Review of articles for the Opuscula Atheniensia, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, Journal of American Archaeology, Bulletin for the American Schools of Oriental Research; Journal of Social Archaeology, British School at Athens

Book Proposals & Manuscripts:

  • Cambridge University Press, American Schools of Oriental Research

Keynote lectures (since 2000)

  • 2005 Identity in Late Bronze Age Cyprus. Keynote speaker at the Postgraduate Symposium on Cypriot Archaeology, University of Reading
  • 2004 Keynote speaker, Colloquium Celebrating Cyprus: in Honour of Constandinos Leventis, the Hellenic Society and Society of Classical Studies, University of London: Recent Developments in Cypriot Archaeology 

Invited Speaker (since 2000)

  • 2013 Feats of Clay: Rethinking Mycenaean Figurines. Material Worlds, University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • 2012 Gift Exchange in Late Bronze Age Cyprus. Gift Economy conference, University of Heidelberg
  • 2010 The Power of the Word: the Material Culture of Egyptian Imperialism in the Southern Levant. Diwylliant Pethau (the Culture of Things), University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • 2008 Exploring the Cypriot Hinterland: New Light on the Rural Communities of Late Bronze Age Cyprus. Ancient Levant Workshop, University College London
  • 2008 Exploring Regional Settlement on Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age. Regionalism in Bronze Age Cyprus Workshop, Cyprological Congress, Nicosia
  • 2007 Production and consumption of wine in Bronze Age Cyprus. Wine in Ancient Greece and Cyprus (Ikaria). Wiener Laboratory, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
  • 2006 Hinterlands and Hinterseas: Resource use in Crete and Cyprus. Parallel Lives (Nicosia): Cyprus University & the British School at Athens.
  • 2005 Fieldwork at Arediou-Vouppes: Exploring a Bronze Age rural community on Cyprus. Metals in Antiquity: Mining, Production and Trade seminar series, at the University of Swansea, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology
  • 2004 Red Lustrous Wheelmade Ware from Kalavasos. The Lustrous Wares of Late Bronze Age Cyprus. Vienna, Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • 2004 Rethinking the Vounous bowl: anthropological perspectives on ancient art. Papers in honour of Trevor Watkins, University of Edinburgh
  • 2004 Heroes in the Landscape: Mycenaean Greece and its Survival in Later Greek Memory. Cardiff Archaeological Society
  • 2002 Cypriot Drinking Traditions and the Adaptation of Mycenaean Drinking Ritual. The Mycenaean Feast: an archaeological colloquium, AIA meeting, Philadelphia. 
  • 2000 Céramique mycénienne en contexte funéraire à Ougarit. Le cas du vase a étrier. Séminaire de recherche, Maison de l’Orient, Universitaire de Lyon II. 
  • 2000 Women in Mycenaean Pictorial Vase Painting. Colloquium on Mycenaean Pictorial Vase Painting, Athens, Swedish Institute of Archaeology