Institute of Archaeology


Borja Legarra Herrero - Lecturer (Teaching) in Comparative Mediterranean Prehistory

Borja Legarra Herrero

Current Projects

  • Minoan gold: an archaeometallurgical analysis of Crete's place in the east Mediterranean world (Co-director with Prof. Marcos Martinón-Torres, Crete, Greece)

The research aims to study Pre- and Protopalatial gold items of in the Herakleion and Hagios Nikolaos museums, and from ongoing excavations at the site of Sissi, in order to test the hypothesis that gold supply to Crete, and technological choices in gold metallurgy, changed at some point in the 2nd millennium BC. Our results will provide new insight into the developing relationship of Crete with the Aegean and east Mediterranean world before and after the appearance of the first palaces. The methodology includes a range of macroscopic and microscopic analyses of manufacture and wear traits, as well as the first chemical analyses of most of the items using non-invasive portable X-ray flourescence (pXRF).

The project aims to understand better how reiterated processes of human mobility affect the long socio-political history of a Mediterranean region, focusing in the key case of Vera, SE Spain. This region has repeatedly experienced the arrival of new human groups and cultural influences, from Neolithic farmers to Arab culture. At the same time the region has a remarkably dynamic history of social change that saw indications of complexity already in the Bronze Age and early iterations of Phoenician, Visigoth and Arab state organisation. The project fuses legacy data with na nerw intensive archaeological survey to investigate the diachronic study of the settlement patterns, demographic history and resource exploitation strategies in the region. This combined with the rich range of material and archaeological studies available in SE Spain we will be able to produce a high-resolution deep history of the varying relationship between mobility and social development in this Mediterranean area.

  • Knossos Urban Landscape Project: Assistant Director (Knossos, Herakleion, Greece) 

Multidisciplinary project that studies changes in the human landscape of the Knossos city and surrounding valley from the Neolithic to the Byzantine period. My duties include:  Early Bronze Age ceramic analyses, GIS development.

Research Interests

  • Socio-political change in the Mediterranean, 5th - 1st Millennia BC (Neolithic to Early Iron Age, Mediterranean): An exploration of the highly dynamic period in which major changes in socio-political structure occurred in several areas around the Mediterranean basin This research weighs broad themes typical from Mediterranean archaeology, such as exploitation strategies and trade and exchange, against the particular local ecologies of several regions around the basin in order to explain socio-cultural dynamics.
  • State formation on Bronze Age Crete (Early and Middle Bronze Age): Crete presents one of the most peculiar cases of early state formation in the world and eludes easy explanation. The comprehensive study of long-term changes in burial practices on the island enables innovative research frameworks that help to explain ideological and cognitive changes in Cretan populations and also gives us new insights in the understanding of early complex societies in general.
  • The later prehistory of South East Spain

Other Research Interests

  • GIS analyses in archaeology
  • Ceramic studies
  • State formation
  • Archaeology and anthropology of death
  • Archaeological and anthropological theory and methodology
  • Landscape archaeology and survey methods

Educational Background

  • 2002-2006: PhD in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK. Thesis title: Mortuary behaviour and Social Organisation in Pre- and Protopalatial Crete.
  • 2001-2002: Distinction in MA degree in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK. 
  • 1998-2000: Upper Second Honours BA degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.  
  • 1998: Curso de Adaptación Pedagógica (Pedagogic Adaptation Course) by the University of Deusto, Spain.
  • 1994-1998: Upper Second Honours BA degree in Medieval and Ancient History from the University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.

Professional History

  • 2013: Teaching Fellow in Greek Archaeology, University College London
  • 2010-2012: Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester 
  • 2009-2010: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Institute of Aegean Prehistory
  • 2008: Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Knossos Urban Landscape Project, University College London. Preparation of fieldwork, including GIS
  • 2007: Sessional Lecturer, University of Kent, 'Introduction to Aegean Archaeology.' Convenor: Dr E. Kyriakidis. Lecturer: Dr H. Dawson
  • Ongoing: Reviewer for Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, European Journal of Archaeology, Ancient History Bulletin, Aegean Studies
  • Ongoing: Member of the Archaeological Institute of America