Institute of Archaeology


Borja Legarra Herrero - Teaching Fellow 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).

  • Verasur. Human Mobility and long'term social change in the west Mediterranean: The case of the Vera Region (Almeria, Spain). (Co-director with Dr. Mercedes Murillo-Barroso. Almeria, Spain)

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


  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2014. Mortuary behaviour and Social Trajectories in Pre- and Protopalatial Crete. INSTAP Academic Press. Philadelphia.

Articles and book contributions

In Press

  • Legarra Herrero, B. From Systems of Control to Networks of Knowledge: The archaeology of southeast Spain. In Foxhall, L. Tracing Networks: investigating networks of knowledge in antiquity and the digital age. British Academy Series. Oxford University Press.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. The House-tomb, less house more tomb. In Carter, T. and Hussein, A. (eds). Festschrift for Prof. Jeffrey S. Soles.
  • Fyfe, R., Woodbridge, J., Palmisano, A., Bevan, A., Shennan, S., Burjachs, F., Legarra Herrero, B., García Puchol, O., Carrión, J., Revelles, J., Roberts, N. Prehistoric palaeodemographics and regional land cover change in eastern Iberia. Holocene


  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2018 Gold, conspicuous consumption and prestige - a relationship in need of review. The case of Early and Middle Bronze Age Crete, X.-L., Murillo-Barroso, M. and Charlton, M. (eds). Metals, Minds and Mobility: Integrating Scientific Data with Archaeological Theory.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2018. 101 ways of creating collective burials. The exceptional Cretan tombs in the context of the 3rd Millennium BC Mediterranean. Schmitt, A, Déderix, S. and Crevecoeur, I. (eds.) Gathered in Death. Archaeological and Ethnological Perspectives on Collective Burial and Social Organisation. Aegis 14. 141-157. UCL Presses Universitaires
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2016. Primary state formation processes on Bronze Age Crete: A social approach to change in early complex societies. Cambridge Archaeological Journal.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2016. An elite-infested sea: Interaction and change in Mediterranean paradigms. In Molloy, B and Doonan R. (eds.) 'Of Odysseys and Oddities': Scales and modes of interaction between prehistoric Aegean societies and their neighbours. Oxbow Books.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2016. Bodies in a pickle: burial jars, individualism and group identities in Middle Minoan Crete in Mina, M, Papadatos, Y and Triantaphyllou (eds.) Embodied Identities in the Prehistoric Eastern Mediterranean: Convergence of Theory and Practice
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2015. A Square tomb with a round soul. In The Myrtos Pyrgos tomb in the funerary context of Middle Bronze Age Crete. In In Macdonald, C, Hatzaki, E, and Andreou, S, (eds) The Great Islands: Studies of Crete and Cyprus Presented to Gerald Cadogan. Kapon Editions., 76-81.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2015. What happens when Tombs die? The Historical Appropriation of the Cretan Bronze Age Cemeteries. In Díaz-Guardamino, M., García Sanjuán, L, and Wheatley, D (eds.) The lives of Prehistoric Monuments in Iron Age, Roman, and Medieval Europe. Oxford University Press, 265-286.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2014. Estructura territorial y estado en la cultura argárica. Menga, Journal of Andalusian Archaeology 4, 149-172.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2014. Consumption choices and inter-cultural interaction in the Early Bronze Age South Aegean: Silver and Gold. In Meller, H., Risch, R and Pernicka, E. (eds.) Metalle der Macht - Frühes Gold und Silber / Metals of power - Early gold and silver. 6. Mitteldeutscher Archäologentag: vom 17. Bis 19. Oktober 2013 in Halle (Saale). Landesamt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt / Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte. 467-482.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2013. Status, rank, and socio-political organization in the Classical world. In AR7553: Encountering the Classical World. Course workbook. University of Leicester
  • Legarra Herrero, B. ­­­­­2013. Modern political views and the emergence of early complex societies in the Bronze Age Mediterranean. Antiquity 87 (335), 245-249.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2012. Cemeteries and the construction, deconstruction and non-construction of hierarchical societies in Early Bronze Age Crete. In, I. Schoep, P. Tomkins and J. Driessen (eds) Back to the Beginning: Reassessing social, economic and political complexity in the Early and Middle Bronze Age on Crete. Oxbow Books. 325-357.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. ­­­­­2011. New kid on the block: the nature of the first systemic contacts between Crete and the eastern Mediterranean around 2000 BC. In T. Wilkinson, S. Sherratt, and J. Bennet (eds) Interweaving worlds: systemic interactions in Eurasia, 7th to 1st millennia BC. Oxbow Books. 266-281
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2011. The secret lives of the Early and Middle Minoan Tholos cemeteries: Koumasa and Platanos. In J. Murphy (ed). Prehistoric Crete: Regional and Diachronic Studies on Mortuary Systems. INSTAP Academic Press. 49-84
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2009. The Minoan fallacy: cultural diversity on Crete at the beginning of the Bronze Age as assessed through the mortuary behavior. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 28.1. 29-57.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2009. Cemeteries and the construction, deconstruction, and non-construction of hierarchies in Early Bronze Age Crete. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 52. 255-256.
  • Legarra Herrero, B. 2004. About the distribution of metal objects in Prepalatial Crete. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 15, 29-51.