Evgenia Tsafou

PhD Student, UCLouvain (CEMA-INCAL)

Aegean Archaeology – Minoan Crete – Ceramic Studies

PhD Project

The Function and Use of Cooking Vessels in Minoan Crete: an interdisciplinary study on ceramic assemblages from Sissi and Malia (Quartier Pi) during MMIIIA-LMIIIB (1750-1190 B.C.)

Supervisor : Dr. Prof. Charlotte Langohr (F.R.S.-FNRS - UCLouvain, AegIS).

My current PhD research focuses on the study of function and use of cooking vessels in Minoan Crete aiming to introduce new interpretations and insights in the cooking techniques and culinary traditions of Minoan communities from a diachronic perspective. Different modes of pottery use serve as indicators in the reconstruction of the social and cultural behavior of the past societies since through the utilization of ceramic vessels in numerous social practices pottery is embodied with social meanings. In the framework of Minoan Crete, the functions and the modes of use of cooking pots remain partly enigmatic. Consequently, main aspects of the organization of Minoan life and maintenance and subsistence activities. Therefore, this project aims at clarifying the aforementioned issues of Minoan societies by an integrated functional study on the modes of use of omnipresent ceramic vessels i.e. vessels related to food preparation and cooking.

In particular, due to my involvement in the ongoing archaeological project at the Minoan settlement of Sissi, but also at the neighboring site of Malia (Area Pi), I will integrate to this research as case studies first hand data of ceramic vessels from Middle and Late Bronze Age contexts at both sites (1750-1200 BC). The essential goal of this project is to adopt a holistic approach to the aforementioned issues by implementing an interdisciplinary methodology including: the definition of functional aspects of morphological and technological characteristics of vessels, use wear analysis, contextual analysis and finally organic residue analysis with two method of analysis lipid analysis and microbotanical analysis (starch grains). Those two techniques of organic residue analysis will work supplementary to the identification of vessels contents providing a large range of ingredients consumed in vessels and at the same time a large range of possible uses of different cooking vessels’ types.


  • Since 2017 : PhD Candidate in Minoan Archaeology (Research Fellow UCL-F.R.S. 2017-2021) at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCLouvain – Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium).

  • 2015 : Master of Arts (Excellent) in Prehistoric Archaeology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece).

  • 2011 : Bachelor of Arts (Very Good) in History and Archaeology – specialized in Archaeology and History of Art at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece).

Research topics

  • Aegean Archaeology, Minoan Archaeology,

  • Pottery Analysis, Cooking Pottery,

  • Food Preparation and Consumption in Ancient societies, Organic Residue Analysis.

Field projects

  • 2016‐present: Excavations at Sissi, Crete (Dir.: Pr. Jan Driessen, UCLouvain – Ecole Belge d’Athènes). Functional analysis on cooking pottery, responsible for the application of organic residue analysis on ceramic vessels, management and inventory of the archaeological material of the excavation.

  • 2017-present: Excavations at Quartier Pi at Malia, Crete (Dir.: Dr Maia Pomadère, Paris I-Sorbonne – Ecole Française d’Athènes). Functional analysis on MBA/LBA cooking pottery and application of organic residue analysis (Director Maia Pomadère).

Choice of publications/conferences (5 max.)

  • García-Granero, J.J., Hatzaki, E., Tsafou, E. et al. From Storage to Disposal: a Holistic Microbotanical Approach to Domestic Plant Preparation and Consumption Activities in Late Minoan Gypsades, Crete. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-020-09456-9

  • Tsafou E. (2019) Review on “Hruby, J., Trusty, D. (Eds.). (2017). From Cooking Vessels to Cultural Practices in the Late Bronze Age Aegean. Oxford; Philadelphia: Oxbow Books.”, Revue archéologique, vol. 67, no. 1, 2019, pp. 195-244.

  • Tsafou E. (2020) Identifying the changing function and use of cooking vessels in Minoan societies. SCAPECON 2020, No (E)scape: Relational Archaeology in the Aegean Bronze Age, Breaking boundaries: negotiating change in the Aegean Bronze Age, Online event, 22,29 September and 6 October 2020, Groningen

  • Tsafou E. and Langohr C. (2019) Fonction et utilisation de la céramique de cuisine en Crète à l’Âge du Bronze: approche interdisciplinaire, In 2e Journée d’études du Groupe de contact FNRS CeramicResearch in Archaeology15 Mars 2019, L’approche fonctionnelle des céramiques archéologiques, Brussels.