Sylviane Déderix

Postdoctoral researcher of the F.R.S.-FNRS

Funerary archaeology, Landscape archaeology, archaeological GIS

PhD Title

28-Apr-14 – The Minoan Funerary Landscape. A Study of Spatial Relationships between the World of the Dead and the Living in Bronze Age Crete (ca. 3100-1450 BC)

In order to get round the limitations imposed by the Minoan mortuary record, my PhD research explored an overlooked aspect of the available data: the position occupied by tombs and cemeteries in the landscape of Pre-, Proto- and Neopalatial Crete (ca. 3100-1450 BC). Of all the choices made by a society regarding the treatment of its departed, those related to the location of burial sites are among the most fundamental. The establishment of the abode of the dead plays an active part in a community’s process of both forgetting and commemorating its deceased, while reflecting and influencing its attitude towards death and the dead. Accordingly, my research relied on the use of GIS to shed light on the criteria that influenced the placement of Minoan burial sites. The spatial and chronological distribution of the different types of tombs, the issue of topographic and visual prominence, the spatial relations between tombs and settlements, as well as the location of tholos tombs with respect to optimal corridors of movement networks were explored. The results of the spatial analyses shed light on the existence of meaningful variations in the positioning of the different burial types, which in turn emphasizes the variability of the roles assigned to the dead and funerary practices in the different regions of the island between the rise of the Bronze Age and the fall of the second Minoan palaces.

Postdoctoral research

Building communities in Prepalatial south-central Crete. A spatial and relational perspective on past human interactions

My postdoctoral research is concerned with changing patterns of social interaction among the small-sized communities that built and used circular tombs in south-central Crete during the Prepalatial period (ca. 3100/3000-1900 BC). To do so, it aims to develop an interdisciplinary methodology combining the potential of computer-aided simulations of movement on the one hand, and network analyses on the other hand. The research consists of three interrelated components. First of all, the geo-chronological diffusion of circular tombs will be reassessed in the light of the revised ceramic sequence recently proposed for Neolithic and Prepalatial Phaistos. Then, Social Network Analyses will allow a systematic investigation of regional and interregional connections based on the distribution of diagnostic types of grave goods (e.g. fine painted pottery, stone vases, jewelries, seals, metalwork, exotica). Such artifacts are particularly significant in that their conspicuous consumption in the mortuary sphere played an active role in the negotiation of social identities at both local and regional levels. Finally, GIS will be implemented to explore the relative accessibility of circular tombs and the spatial connections existing among them. By examining social interactions in a comprehensive and diachronic manner, this research expects to shed new light on the processes that led to the construction of the Palace of Phaistos and the emergence of a hierarchical society in the Mesara.


Université catholique de Louvain

Place B. Pascal 1, bte L3.03.01

1348 Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium)

Website Aegis - Sylviane (CV).pdf