Valasia Isaakidou

Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Archaeozoology (ERC-EXPLO), University of Oxford (Institute of Archaeology)

Zooarchaeologist; Co-ordinator of the Environmental Archaeology team

Post-doc Research Project

Exploring the nature of human-animal interactions and land-use in lakeside settlements in the southern Balkans (focussing on Neolithic Dispilio-Kastoria), through multi-proxy evidence (macroscopic, dental microwear and isotopic analyses of animal remains).

Postdoctoral Fellowship: ERC-EXPLO University of Oxford (2021-2024).


  • 2004 : PhD thesis in Prehistory Archaeology (AHRB, Full Graduate Research Studentship), Institute of Archaeology, University College London (United Kingdom). Title of the PhD dissertation: Bones from the Labyrinth: faunal evidence for animal management and consumption at Neolithic and Bronze Age Knossos, Crete. (supervisors: Drs L. Martin, J. Conolly and A. Garrard).

  • 1997: Master of Sciences in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy (Distinction), Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield (United Kingdom). Dissertation title: An animal bone assemblage from the Romano-British site at Wilcote, Oxfordshire.

  • 1995: Bachelor of Arts in Classical Archaeology (1st Class), Institute of Archaeology, University College London (United Kingdom). Dissertation title: Simian iconography in the Bronze Age Aegean.

Research topics

  • Archaeology and ethnography of plant-animal husbandry and ancient foodways;

  • Integration of macroscopic, microscopic and isotopic faunal analysis;

  • Animal domestication; symbolic roles of animals;

  • Mediterranean and island archaeology;

  • Development of modern baseline datasets for interpreting animal dental microwear and isotopic data from archaeological contexts.

Current field projects

  • Macroscopic and isotopic analysis of faunal assemblages on Crete, the Greek mainland and Izmir region;

  • Co-ordinator of the publication of John Evans’s Neolithic excavations at Knossos (with Dr. P. Tomkins, Catania) (funding bodies: INSTAP, MAT, BSA, ASCSA);

  • Ethnography of traditional modern and recent management of feral goats in S Greece & analysis of modern specimens for the creation of baseline datasets of dental microwear and isotopes13C, δ15N, δ34S, δ18O).

Choice of publications/conferences (5 max.)

  • Isaakidou, V. & P. Halstead 2021. The ‘Wild’ Goats of ancient Crete: ethnographic perspectives on iconographic, textual and zooarchaeological sources, in R. Laffineur and T. Palaima, ZOIA: Animal Connections in the Aegean Middle and Late Bronze Age. Liège: University of Liège, pp. 51-62.

  • Isaakidou, V. 2021. Chapter III. Zooarchaeology. In D. Hollander and T. Howe (Eds.) A Companion to Ancient Agriculture, 37-54. Willey.

  • Isaakidou, V., Styring, A.K., Halstead, P., Nitsch, E., Stroud, E., Le Roux, P., Lee-Thorp, J.A., Bogaard, A., 2019. From texts to teeth: A multi-isotope study of sheep and goat herding practices in the Late Bronze Age (‘Mycenaean’) polity of Knossos, Crete, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 23, 36-56.

  • Isaakidou, V. 2017. Meaningful materials? Bone artefacts and symbolism in the Early Bronze Age Aegean, Oxford Journal of Archaeology 36 (1), 43-59.

  • Isaakidou, V. 2011. Farming regimes in Neolithic Europe: gardening with cows and other models, in A. Hadzikoumis, E. Robinson and S. Viner (eds.), Trajectories of Neolithization in Europe: Studies in Honour of Andrew Sherratt, 90-112. Oxford: Oxbow.