Maria Relaki

Postdoctoral Researcher

Anthropology and social theory, material culture, technological practice, collective action, Aegean prehistory, gender


I completed my first degree, in History and Archaeology, at the University of Athens, Greece and then went on to gain a MA and a Ph.D from the University of Sheffield, UK. I wrote my thesis on the "Social Arenas in Minoan Crete: A Regional History of the Mesara, South-central Crete, from the Final Neolithic to the end of the Protopalatial period".

A key aspect of my doctoral thesis was the examination of regional dynamics and their link with processes of social negotiation and transformation. My thesis critically interrogated the concept of the region as a core analytic unit in archaeological studies and devised a novel methodology by which to bridge successfully small-scale processes with large-scale historical phenomena.

I expanded on this theme, in a recent edited volume on the Archaeology of Land Ownership (co-edited with Despina Catapoti), where the concept of ownership and its role in archaeological analysis is critically re-assessed by looking at the multifarious ways by which people have created associations with land and the social, economic and cultural implications of these practices. My own contribution in the volume focused on gender aspects of these relationships by discussing the ways land and women are constructed as a unified (but problematic) reproductive category.

I have worked extensively on archaeological ceramics (using both scientific analysis and macroscopic methods) and developed a strong interest in ancient technologies. My ongoing engagement with the social dynamics of technology has led me in recent work to reconsider the traditional boundaries of material objects (ceramics, metal, stone, bone etc) and approach technology as social praxis. I continue to explore these themes in some of my current projects, by examining how technologies traditionally categorised as different interact in terms of knowledge, techniques and skills and how this affects the role of material culture within ancient societies.

A significant aspect of my research has focused on strategies of collective group representation through the examination of seals and sealing practices across the Bronze Age Aegean. In reassessing the traditional view of such artefacts as instruments of administration and economic intensification, I have also explored their possible implication in apotropaic practices and especially their role in the construction of collective identities.

I returned to the issue of collective identities and group strategies in my current Post-Doctoral position as a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the Université Catholique de Louvain. As part of this project I am re-examining the model of Levi-Straussian House societies from a new materialist and post-humanist perspective. I am interested in the way the concept and some aspects of the model of House societies can aid the reconfiguration of social relations in archaeological interpretation and mostly in informing the construction of value regimes in ancient societies.


I have taught briefly at the University of Sheffield and at the Open University, UK as an Associate Lecturer in Classics, Art History and Archaeology since 2007. My involvement with a Distance Learning institution has allowed me to develop an interest and expertise in novel and blended pedagogies, particularly on issues of accessibility and supporting students with special needs. During that time I was also involved in a range of digital initiatives in enhancing online pedagogies, learning support, and interactive teaching methods.


I have taken part in a number of field projects in Crete, Attica and the Cyclades. Since 2010 I have been a senior member of the Field and Publication team at Petras, in East Crete. I study (in collaboration with Christina Tsoraki) the stone vases from the cemetery and the settlement. I have also studied the Prepalatial and Protopalatial Pottery from House I.1 and am currently studying (in collaboration with the Director, Metaxia Tsipopoulou) a number of Protopalatial pottery sets from the 2005 excavations at the settlement.

I also conduct ethnographic research on gender, kinship and collective practices in late 19th -early 20th century rural Crete.

List of most recent publications

Relaki, M. 2018. Roots and routes: Technologies of life, death, community and identity. In M. Relaki and Y. Papadatos (eds.), From the Foundations to the Legacy of Minoan Society. Studies in honour of Professor K. Branigan, pp. 10-35. Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 12. Oxford: Oxbow.

Relaki, M. and Y. Papadatos (eds.) 2018. From the Foundations to the Legacy of Minoan Archaeology. Studies in honour of Professor K. Branigan. Sheffield Studies in Aegean Archaeology 12. Oxford: Oxbow.

Relaki, M. and C. Tsoraki 2017. Variability and differentiation. A first look at the patterns of use and deposition of stone vases in the Petras cemetery. In M. Tsipopoulou (ed.), Petras Sitia: the Pre- and Proto-palatial cemetery in context, pp.159-178. Monographs of the Danish Institute of Athens, vol. 20.

Relaki, M. 2016. Some Early and Middle Minoan Pottery from House I.1, Petras, Sitia. In M. Tsipopoulou (ed.), Petras, Siteia I: a Minoan Palatial Settlement in Eastern Crete. Excavation of Houses I.1 and I.2, pp. 93-124. Prehistory Monographs, vol. 53. INSTAP Academic Press.

Relaki, M. 2013. Pervasive assumptions of ownership: land, gender and reproductive narratives. In M. Relaki and D. Catapoti (eds.), An Archaeology of Land Ownership, pp. 93-125. Routledge Studies in Archaeology 9. New York and London: Routledge.


Université Catholique de Louvain Collège Erasme

Place B. Pascal 1

bte L3.03.01

1348 – Louvain-la-Neuve

+32 (0)10 47 49 60

Publications & CV

Twitter handle: @mariarelaki