Our research debates human-thing relations drawing upon material culture studies and in particular the new materialities.

Much of our research focuses on the many ways in which objects and materials are manipulated and shape human experiences. We are increasingly interrogating the privileged role of the human agent within the material world.

We explore how the world is composed of diverse interacting materials to develop narratives that are less concerned with peoples and objects, but rather how materials and matter (including humans) interact to create the world we live in.

In so doing we demonstrate the various ways in which earthly substances provoke human behaviours, thereby encouraging a rediscovery of the world as one of materials in relationship with each other.

Research Activities

  • The Bore Forest Reserve project - find out more at Carbonlink.
  • Cyfarthfa Castle Egypt Project: Welsh Heritage and the Regional Community Museum
  • The Role of 'New' Water in Shaping and Regulating Futures in Rural Kenya, supported by funding from the Wenner Gren Foundation. Find out more from our Humanities blog
  • Textile Reflections: Multi-Sensory Representation of Textile Work in Latin Poetry and Prose. Centre of Textile Research at UCPH (Marie Sklodowska Curie fellowship)

Materialities in Anthropology and Archaeology Series, University of Wales Press. 

A new book series, published by UWP offers a timely investigation into the material world and the place of peoples within it. This series seeks to investigate how the world is comprised of assemblages of interacting materials, thus to demonstrates the constitutive and agential role of matter in the formation of material worlds.

In press E. Govier & L. Steel Beyond the ‘Thingification’ of Worlds: Archaeology and the New Materialisms. Journal of Material Culture

2021 L. Steel "Inscribing Bodies in Bronze Age Cyprus". Pp. 29-44 in N. Laneri (ed.) The Sacred Body: Materializing the Divine through Human Remains in Antiquity. Material Religion in Antiquity, Oxford: Oxbow Books

2020 L. Steel “Little Women”: Gender, Performance, and Gesture in Mycenaean Female Figurines. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2020.101161

2019 L. Attala, How Water Make Us Human: Engagements with the Materiality of Water, Cardiff: UWP

2019 L. Attala and L. Steel (eds) Body Matters: Exploring the Materiality of the Body Cardiff: UWP 

2019 A. Scott The ‘Missing Link’ Between Science and Show Business: Exhibiting Gorillas and Chimpanzees in Victorian Liverpool. Journal of Victorian Culture, vcz015, https://doi.org/10.1093/jvcult/vcz015.

2019 K. Zinn "The Museum of Lies: Incorrect facts or advancing knowledge of ancient Egypt?" Journal of History and Cultures 10: 165-190.

2018  K. Erickson. The Early Seleukids, their Gods and their Coins. London, New York: Routledge.

2018 M. Öhrman 'The Singing Loom: The Importance of Textile Production in the Roman Domestic Soundscape’, in Archaeoacoustics III: The Archaeology of Sound, eds. L. Eneix and M. Ragussa, Myakka City, 143-150.

2018 M. Öhrman ‘A Warped Version: Manipulating Roman Looms for Metaphorical Effect –  Potamius of Lisbon’s Epistula de Substantia 5-9’, Humanitas 71, 2018, 51-70.

2018  L. Steel. "Shifting Relations in Bronze Age Gaza: An Investigation into Egyptianizing Practices and Cultural Hybridity in the Southern Levant During the Late Bronze Age." Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 20: 15-30.

2018 L. Steel. "Another look at Red Lustrous arm-vessels," in L. Crewe, L. Hulin and J. Webb (eds) Structures of Inequality on Bronze Age Cyprus. Studies in honour of Alison K. South. SIMA PB 187, 197-210. Astrom Editions.

2018 L. Steel. "Watery entanglements in the Cypriot hinterland." Land 7(3)  Special Issue Central Places and Un-Central Landscapes: Political Economies and Natural Resources in the Longue Durée https://doi.org/10.3390/land7030104  http://www.mdpi.com/2073-445X/7/3/104

2017 L. Attala, “Do plants communicate with humans? Exploring the chemistry of plant-human relationships and the benefits of being a hallucinogen”, Radical Anthropology 7/3:125-145. Astrom Editions.

2017 M. Öhrman, Looms, in The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Wiley online.

2017 L. Steel & K. Zinn (eds) Exploring the Materiality of Food ‘Stuffs’: Transformations, Symbolic Consumption and Embodiments. London; New York: Routledge.

2017 K. Zinn "Object Biographies and Political Expectations: Egyptian Artefacts, Welsh Heritage and the Regional Community Museum." In Gloria Rosati and Maria Cristina Guidotti (eds) Proceedings of the XI International Congress of Egyptologists, Florence.

2017 K. Zinn "Did You Sleep Well on your Headrest?—Anthropological Perspectives on an Ancient Egyptian Implement." Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections 17: 202–19

2016 L. Steel, “Kitchenalia in Bronze Age Cyprus”, Gastronomica 16(3): 77-88

2016 F. Silva et al. (eds) The Materiality of the Sky. London: Sophia Centre Press

2015 E.J. Abbots, A. Lavis and L. Attala (eds) Careful Eating: Bodies, Food and Care. London: Ashgate.

2014 E.-J. Abbots and L. Attala, “It’s not what you eat but how and that you eat: social media, counter-discourses and disciplined ingestion among amateur competitive eaters”, Geoforum, Special issue on Food/Space/Media. Doi: 10:1016/j.geoforum.2014.11.004

2014 P. Dransart, “Thoughts on productive knowledge in Andean weaving with discontinuous warp and weft”, in Textiles, Technical Practice and Power in the Andes, edited by D.Y. Arnold. London: Archetype Publications


Our ground-breaking, interdisciplinary research is reflected by the various papers presented by colleagues at conferences and public lectures at academic institutions both in the UK and overseas.

June 2021

  • Exploring the aesthetic of Red Polished Figurative Art: The Beautifully Made...Made Beautiful, Louise Steel, International Conference on Cypriot Prehistory, University of Athens

September 2019

  • Body Matters: Exploring the Materiality of the Medieval Human Body: session at the International Medieval Congress at Leeds, with papers by Janet Burton (All Fingers, No Thumbs: The Materiality of a Medieval Relic), Harriett Webster (The Resuscitation of the Twice-Hanged Man: Miracles and the Body in Medieval Swansea) and Erica Blair O'Brien ('My Precious Body': The (Im)Materiality of the Body in Margaret of York's Manuscripts). Followed by a book launch on 3 July for Body Matters: Exploring the Materiality of the Human Body, hosted by UWP.

June 2018

July 2017

  • Universal Exhibitions, Municipal Ambitions: The 1851 Great Exhibition and the Origins of Liverpool Public Museum, Alex Scott. In The Evolution of the Museum (Universal Histories and Universal Museums project), Blythe House and the Science Museum, London.
  • Sleeping Hard on your Headrest? – Egyptian Objects Under the Lens of New Materialisms, Katharina Zinn. In Egyptology and Anthropology: Historiography, Theoretical Exchange, and Conceptual Development, University of Cambridge.

February 2017

  • Exploring the Materiality of Water in Bronze Age Cyprus, Louise Steel. In the Environment, Landscape and Society conference, CAARI, Nicosia.

July 2016

  • Decomposition, memory, permanence and plastic: exploring how materiality alters practice, Luci Attala. In the Decomposition: Materials and Images in Time panel, ASA2016, Durham University.

Feb 2016

  • Materiality, Sustainability, Advocacy, Luci Attala, at the HEA conference, Brighton.

Dec 2015

  • Bodies of Water: Exploring Water Flows in Rural Kenya, Luci Attala at Cardiff University Guest Lecture Series.

November 2015

  • Enchanting Objects: Exploring the Biography of Gaming Stones at Arediou, Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age, Louise Steel in Object Biography for Archaeologists II: The Object as Magnet, ASOR Annual Meeting, Atlanta.
  • From Being an Overseer of Cattle in Egypt to Shaping Welsh Identity: Tangible Objects and Their Biographies As medium of Intangible Heritage, Katharina Zinn in Object Biography for Archaeologists II: The Object as Magnet, ASOR Annual Meeting, Atlanta.

June 2015

  • Embodying Plants, Luci Attala, in the Interdisciplinary Research Forum: The Body at Swansea Met.

May 2015

  • The Importance of Being Eaten: Edibility, Blending Boundaries and the Porosity of Relationships Between and Across Species, Luci Attala at the Society of Ethnobiology, Santa Barbara.

April 2015

  • Teaching Anthropology panel, at ASA2015, Exeter University. Panel organised by Luci Attala, with papers by Luci Attala: “Engaging Anthropology: The Importance of ‘Doing’ for Teaching Anthropology”, Eloise Govier: “Vital Material Engagements: Interactions, Participation and the ‘Ticker-Tape’ Art Installation” and Louise Steel: “Experiential Learning: Exploring the Body”

November 2014

  • Isis, Horus and Osiris - a Divine Family in Wales? Object biographies of un-provenanced Egyptian artefacts OR How to create a narrative of objects in the Egyptian collection of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum, Merthyr Tydfil, Katharina Zinn, in Object Biography for Archaeologists I: A Practical Workshop, ASOR Annual Meeting, San Diego.


Our vibrant research culture encompasses numerous conferences and workshops at Lampeter. We also have weekly seminars where staff and post-graduate students present their ongoing research alongside invited speakers from the UK and overseas.


4-8 September 2017

  • Postgraduate Summer School: ‘Hidden in Plain Sight: Materiality, Meaning and Accessibility of Chinese Objects in Local Collections’, organised by Thomas Jansen for the European Association for Chinese Studies.

May 2017

  • PANEL: “No, I cannot give you ready answers”: Students as Researchers in Embedded Teaching, at the Wales Nexus Conference 2017, The Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea. Papers by Luci Attala: ‘Raising the Bar: How Allowing Students to Deliver Lectures Helps Them Academically’; Ros Coard: ‘People, Archaeology of the Dead and how to Bury Yourself Properly: Enriching the archaeology Syllabus with Difficult to Deal with Archaeologies’; Louise Steel: ‘Making Miniature People’; Katharina Zinn: ‘“And What Is This Scrap of Wood …?” OR “How Did the God Lose His Beard?” Inspiring Undergraduate Students for Primary Research and Community Engagement.

23 November 2016

  • Hands in Context: Gesture, Communication, and Meaning in Ancient Maya Art and Culture, Dr Amy Maitland, UCL, in our “Past Peoples” Seminar Series.

9 November 2016

  • Materialities, Wrappings and Colours, Dr Lucila Bugallo, Universidad de Buenos Aires & Universidad Nacional de Jujuy, in our “Past Peoples” Seminar Series.

January 2016

  • PANEL: Vibrant Materialisms in the Ancient Near East, BANEA 2016 @ Lamp. Papers by Luci Attala: “An introduction to New Materialisms”, Eloise Govier: “Vital Materialisms at Çatalhöyük”, and Louise Steel: “Mind, Body, Object”.

Autumn Semester 2015

  • “Material Worlds” Seminar Series, Archaeology, History and Anthropology.

May 2014

  • Embodied Encounters: Exploring the Materialities of Food‘Stuffs’, UWTSD Lampeter. Workshop organised by Emma-Jayne Abbots, Louise Steel and Katharina Zinn, funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation

We work hard to engage audiences not only from our student body and the wider public with our research. Examples of our impact include:

Bore Forest Research Project: A recent student campaign at Lampeter ‘Change 4 Change’ has raised nearly £13,000 towards this project to bring alternative livelihoods to the locals.

In 2015 this project received funding from the Size of Wales tropical reforestation charity to implement a reforestation initiative “Half a Million Trees for Schools” project, working in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Education, the Kenya Forest Service and Aberystwyth University.

In 2014 it was the winner of the UN Gold Star Award in Environmental Impact Category and in the same year received a Welsh Government Grant from the GwirVol International Volunteer Scheme to mount a Wales/Kenya Volunteer Expedition.

Arediou Hidden Pasts Project: as part of this project we have run a number of hands-on interactive sessions looking at artefacts from the excavations at Arediou with the local school. We have also developed teaching materials about the archaeological site and excavations for use in the local school.

Cyfarftha Castle Egypt Project: Welsh Heritage and the Regional Community Museum

Annual exhibitions of material from the Southey and his “Oriental Collection” at Cyfarthfa Castle Museum have been run in Lampeter (Roderic Bowen library) and at the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum museum since 2012.

These run in conjunction with public lectures and workshop activities with the local secondary schools in Lampeter and Merthyr Tydfil. A centenary exhibition for the arrival of the collection at Cyfarthfa Castle Museum is planned for March 2017:

  • March 2017. Harry Hartley Southey and his “Oriental Collection”, Cyfarthfa Castle Museum, Merthyr Tydfil (in preparation)
  • May / June 2016. Six feet under? Funerary aspects of Egyptian culture, Roderic Bowen Libraries and Archive, UWTSD
  • May 2014. FoodStuffs – Food in time and space: Egypt – China – Wales - Roderic Bowen Libraries and Archive, UWTSD (in conjunction with the Embodied Foodstuffs workshop)