The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T +44 (0)1227 764000
Dr Helen Dawson
Honorary Research Fellow and Associate Lecturer
Classical and Archaeological Studies
Helen is an Honorary Research Fellow of the Department and has been an Associate Lecturer since 2006. She teaches Aegean archaeology and contributes to the archaeological theory modules. Helen will be on research leave until the end of 2014.
Helen is currently post-doctoral research fellow (Marie Curie-COFUND) at the Freie Universität in Berlin (Topoi Excellence Cluster), where she is researching space-related identities using the Sicilian islands during the Neolithic and Bronze Age as case studies.
She received her MPhil from the University of Cambridge and PhD from the Institute of Archaeology (UCL). Her research focuses on understanding Mediterranean island cultures, especially processes of prehistoric colonisation, abandonment, and the development of island identities.
Helen is a Member of the Institute for Archaeologists.back to top
- Dawson, H. (in press, expected October 2013). Mediterranean Voyages. The archaeology of island colonisation and abandonment. Left Coast Press, Institute of Archaeology Series (UCL).
- Dawson, H., Grima, R., Pluskowski, A., and Seetah, K. (eds.) 2010. Archaeological approaches to the cultural construction of islands. Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Special issue on Island Archaeology) Download pdf
Chapters in books
- Dawson, H. 2011. ‘'Island colonisation. Settling the Neolithic question’, in N. Phoca-Cosmetatou (ed.) Islands in the Neolithic: Initial Occupation and Survival Strategies in the Mediterranean, 31-53. Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph series.
- Dawson, H. 2010. 'A question of life or death? Seafaring and abandonment in the Mediterranean and Pacific Islands', in A. Anderson, J.H. Barrett and K.V. Boyle (eds) The Global Origins and Development of Seafaring, McDonald Institute Monographs, Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 203-12. Download pdf
- Dawson, H. 2008. 'Unravelling “mystery” and process from the prehistoric colonisation and abandonment of the Mediterranean islands', in J. Conolly and M. Campbell (eds) Comparative Island Archaeologies. Proceedings of the International Conference, University of Auckland, New Zealand 8th-11th December 2004, BAR International Reports, Oxford, 105-33. Download pdf
- Dawson H. 2005. 'Cycles of island colonisation in the prehistoric Mediterranean', in C. Briault, J. Green, A. Kaldelis and A. Stellatou (eds) Proceedings of the 2003 Symposium on Mediterranean Archaeology, SOMA London, BAR International Series, Oxford, 43-8.
- Dawson, H. 2010. 'One, none, and a hundred thousand. Settlement and identity in the prehistoric Mediterranean islands', Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures, Vol. 4 No. 1, 82-98. Download pdf
- Dawson, H. 2006. 'Understanding colonisation. Adaptation strategies in the central Mediterranean islands', Accordia Research Papers, 10, 35-60.
- Dawson, H. 2012. Archaeology, Aquapelagos and Island Studies. Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures Vol. 4 No. 2, 17-21.
- Dawson H. 2006. Conference review of 'Global Perspectives on the Archaeology of Islands, Proceedings of the International Conference, University of Auckland, New Zealand 8th-11th December 2004', Papers of the Institute of Archaeology, 16, 123-7.
- Cooper J. and Dawson H. 2004. Review of S. Fitzpatrick (ed.) 2004, Voyages of Discovery: the Archaeology of Islands. Westport: Praeger, Papers of the Institute of Archaeology, 15, 110-4.
- Dawson H. 2003. Review of W. H. Waldren and J. A. Ensenyat (eds) 2002, World Islands in Prehistory: International Insular Investigations. V Deia International Conference of Prehistory. Oxford: BAR International Series 1095, Papers of the Institute of Archaeology, 14, 155-60.
- Dawson H. (forthcoming) 'The Palace of Idriss I (Area B Excavations)', in E. Fentress and H. Limane (eds) Excavations at Volubilis (Morocco). Preliminary excavation reports (2001-2005) available online (www.sitedevolubilis.org).
- Dawson, H. 2003. 'Comparative cultural trajectories of the Italian islands from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. Research Report', Papers of the British School at Rome, 71, 313-4.
Helen has recently completed writing a book entitled Mediterranean Voyages. The archaeology of island colonisation and abandonment. The book is due out in October 2013 and will be published by Left Coast Press as part of its UCL/Institute of Archaeology series. Helen’s study synthesizes all the available colonisation data from the Mediterranean islands, from Gibraltar to the Levant and from prehistoric to Roman times. The comparative and thematic approach encourages anthropological reflections on the archaeology of the islands, ultimately focusing on people and places rather than geographical units, and specifically on the relations between islanders, mainlanders, and the creation of islander identities.
Helen’s current research project investigates sense of place and identity in the context of Sicily’s minor islands during the later prehistoric period (Neolithic and Bronze Age). Natural and cultural features contribute to an island's distinctiveness or "sense of place". The physical characteristics of islands may lead to geographical isolation; nonetheless, over time, island communities can be seen to establish complex networks and develop distinct identities. Thus, from a theoretical perspective, islands and their multiple geographical and cultural dimensions offer excellent case studies for analysing the construction of space and identities within a comparative framework. The study aims to address the following key questions:
- What significance does an island space have on the formation of identities?
- What do variations in site location and setting tell us about the islanders’ sense of place and space-related identities?
Helen’s study will combine GIS and phenomenological/experiential fieldwork, traditionally separate methodologies, in order to investigate the setting, location, and orientation of domestic, funerary, ritual, and monumental sites within the islands. These are likely to reflect the islanders’ perceptions of their island worlds, their relations to the mainland, and to the sea. Sicily has a rich archaeological record but lacks theoretical studies of this kind. Similarities and differences between the islands will be studied and their significance will shed light on issues of space-related identity, liminality, physical vs. symbolic boundaries, as well as connections between places.back to top
International Journal of Research into Island Cultures (Shima) - Member of the editorial board of this peer-refereed, international journal.
Senior Archaeologist (Museum of London Archaeology) Between 2005 and 2011, Helen worked for MOLA, initially in the field and subsequently as a researcher for the heritage assessments team.
Forum for Island Research and Experience (F.I.R.E.) - Institute of Archaeology, University College London, UK Co-founder and coordinator of a research group on island cultures. Details on www.fireislands.org.
Over the years, Helen has been involved in fieldwork projects in the Cyclades (www.arch.cam.ac.uk/keros), Kythera (www.ucl.ac.uk/kip), Cyprus (Aspros and Nissi Beach), Morocco (www.sitedevolubilis.org), Sicily (www.arch.cam.ac.uk/troina), Rome (Palatine Hill) and Barbados.back to top
Teaching and Supervision
- Archaeology of the Aegean Bronze Age
- Prehistory of the Mediterranean
- Island archaeology
- Archaeological Theory
- Research and presentation skills in Archaeology