Thérèse Claeys

PhD Student, UCLouvain (CEMA-INCAL)

Minoan archaeology – Cultural heritage preservation and management – Digital archaeology – Public archaeology

PhD Project

THE PAST RECONSTRUCTED AND ITS FUTURE CONJUGATION. Towards the elaboration of sustainable accessibility strategies for the preservation and presentation of the Minoan archaeological landscape.

Supervisors : Dr. Prof. Jan Driessen (UCLouvain, AegIS)


  • Since 2016 : PhD Candidate in Minoan Archaeology (Research Fellow FNRS/FRESH 2016-2019 and FULBRIGHT 2020) at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCLouvain – Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium).
  • 2015 : Advanced Master in Conservation of Monuments and Sites (Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation) at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KULeuven, Belgium)
  • 2012 : Master of Arts, Archaeology and Art History at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCLouvain – Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium).
  • 2010 : Bachelor of Arts, Archaeology and Art History at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCLouvain – Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium).

Current research

Due to the silence of its written sources, the Minoan civilization is mainly known through its material culture. The treatment of the Minoan “ruins”, as unique testimonies of this civilization, not only during excavations but also afterwards, is hence a major stake. If there has been a growing interest in the field of archaeological heritage conservation management since a few decades, very few studies have been dedicated to the preservation of Minoan archaeological sites, others than the iconic example of Knossos, and no attempts have yet been made to codify implied conservation and presentation practices for this specific heritage. Furthermore, despite fierce criticism over the Knossian model in the academic sphere, the collective representation of Minoan civilization is still largely influenced by Evans’s legacy and mythological considerations. My research ambitions to tackle these sophisms in terms of interpretation and these gaps in terms of preservation best practices, which, together with the current socio-economic context in Greek heritage management, threaten the continuity of the Minoan ruins. Incidentally, the specific Cretan climatic conditions as well as the intrinsic contingencies of the Minoan built heritage (in terms of building materials, technology and history) contribute to the fragility of its ruins and to its limited visibility/readability.

These peculiarities of the Minoan archaeological heritage legitimize the adoption of a restrictive and innovative methodology. The use of both quantitative and qualitative analyses will help the assessment of the current condition state of a large sample of prospected Minoan archaeological sites and the assessment of their reception by the public. Calling on this critical survey, recommendations establishing a dialectics between the presumed antinomic concepts of “preservation”, “presentation” and “archaeology” will be defined. Permanent dialogues with the different stakeholders, including local communities, will also be advocated to ensure the sustainability of my method.

With its obvious adherence to a community archaeology-based approach, it is hence expected that this research not only subscribes to scientific stakes but also to educational, social and economical stakes related to the management of this specific heritage.

Field projects

  • Sissi Archaeological Project, Crete, Greece (campaigns 2009 to 2011 and 2015 to 2019)
  • C-PEPL Cyprus Pyla Excavation Project, Pyla-Kokkinokremos, Cyprus (campaigns 2014, 2016 & 2017)
  • Dessenne Building at Malia (Crete, Greece) with the French School at Athens (campaigns 2013 &2014)
  • Rescue excavations in Tournai with the Centre de recherche d’Archéologie Nationale (one week in summer 2009 & 2010)

Choice of publications/conferences (5 max.)

- Claeys T., 2020 « Chapitre 5.5. Etude des vases en pierre », in DEVOLDER M. & CALOI I. (éds.), avec la collaboration de A. AGAPIOU, M.-E. ALBERTI, M. ANASTASIADOU, M. ANDONOVA, G. CANTORO, T. CARTER, T. CLAEYS, S. DÉDERIX, T. GOMRÉE, V. ISAAKIDOU, A. LIVARDA, M.-P. MONTAGNÉ, E. NODAROU, A. SARRIS & R. VEROPOULIDOU, Le Bâtiment Dessenne et les abords Sud-Ouest du Palais dans l’établissement pré-etprotopalatial de Malia. Etudes crétoises. Athènes :Ecolefrançaised’Athènes, p. 163-173.

- Claeys T., 2020. “The Sissi Preservation Program – AnIntegrated and Participatory approach for a stronger synergy between archaeology, preservation and presentation”, 2020 Archaeological Institute of America Annual Conference, Washington DC, United States, 2-5 January 2020.

- Claeys T., 2018. « Make Minoans Great Again? Towards the elaboration of an assessment tool for a tentative revival of their past », Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on the Conservation of Monuments in the Mediterranean Basin: Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards and Sustainable Preservation, Athens, 20-22 September 2017, Springer, p. 651-660.

- Claeys T., 2019. “One man, one site, one vision. Sir Arthur Evans’ legacy and the commodification of the Minoan past”, Sense and Sustainability. International Conference on Archaeology and Tourism, Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, Croatia, 6-10 May 2019.

- Claeys T., 2019. “Meeting the Minoans”- An assessment of visitors’ experience on a Bronze Age archaeological site in Crete”, 2019 CAA International Conference, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, 23-27 April 2019.