Katina Lillios

Katina Lillios
Professor, Department Chair
PhD, Yale University, 1991
127B Macbride Hall; Lab: 127 Macbride Hall
319-335-3023 or 319-335-0109
Office Hours: 
Tuesday/Thursday, 1:30-3:00 pm
Curriculum Vitae: 

Research and Teaching Interests
Archaeology of complex societies, Memory and identity, Anthropology of death, Identity and social difference, Material culture, Museums, Politics of the past, Geoarchaeology; Iberian Peninsula, Europe

General Statement
I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in the ways people used (and use) material culture, the remains of the dead, and monuments to create, enhance, and challenge sociopolitical difference and inequality. I am intrigued by the ways that social phenomena and cultural values come to be materialized, and how their materiality triggers social action. For me, archaeology is also the study of how the past (or how we imagine that past) intersects with contemporary life, so I also enjoy projects that examine how, when, and why the past gets enlisted for social, political, or economic purposes. I welcome opportunities to work with students on research related to these questions.

My research has concentrated on the histories of the people who lived in Portugal and Spain from the Neolithic through the Bronze Age (4000-1000 BC), a dynamic period characterized by episodes of political centralization and devolution. In this research, I bring together a concern for memory and object biographies with insights gained through geochemistry, geographic information systems, and bioarchaeology to understand the ways that people of the past used objects and monuments of their own past, such as heirlooms and ancestral burials, to shape their futures.

Click here if you would like to read more of my work.

I have also published five books:

Katina T. Lillios, Anna J. Waterman, Jennifer Mack, Joe Alan Artz, and Liv Nilsson-Stutz. 2015. In Praise of Small Things: Excavations at the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age Burial of Bolores (Torres Vedras), Portugal. British Archaeological Reports, International Series. Oxford.

Katina T. Lillios and Vasilis Tsamis, editors. 2011. Material Mnemonics: Everyday Memory in Prehistoric Europe (Oxbow).

Katina T. Lillios, editor. 2010. Comparative Archaeologies: The American Southwest (AD 900-1600) and the Iberian Peninsula (3000-1500 BC) (Oxbow).

Katina T. Lillios. 2008. Heraldry for the Dead: Memory, Identity, and the Engraved Stone Plaques of Neolithic Iberia (University of Texas Press).

Katina T. Lillios, editor. 1995. The Origins of Complex Societies in Late Prehistoric Iberia (International Monographs in Prehistory).


Current Research

Assessing the Role of Ecological Change on Economic and Demographic Transformations Between the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age in the Sizandro River Valley, Portugal. This project, funded by the National Science Foundation, has sought to determine what caused the collapse of complex societies around 2200 BCE in the Sizandro River valley, west-central Portugal. It has also attempted to evaluate the factors and dynamics involved in the broader transformations of Iberian societies between the fourth-second millennia BCE. The project initially focused on the excavations at the mortuary site of Bolores, in the Sizandro River Valley, which housed at least 36 individuals dated to the 3rd-2nd millennia BCE. Conducted over 4 seasons (2007, 2008, 2010, 2012), and in collaboration with Joe Alan Artz (geoarchaeology/GIS) and Anna Waterman (biological anthropology, former graduate student at UI and currently on the faculty at Mount Mercy University), our excavations at Bolores sought to assess the impact of ecological and socal changes on the bodies of people living at the time. We published the results of our research in a series of articles (see CV) and in a coauthored monograph - In Praise of Small Things: Excavations at the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age Burial of Bolores (Torres Vedras), Portugal. British Archaeological Reports, International Series. Oxford, 2015.

With the Bolores project completed, our project shifted to a series of targeted studies that approach the question of social/ecological change in late prehistoric Iberia using a range of datasets. These include:

                  1.  Analysis of dental morphology of burial populations in the Portuguese Estremadura to assess regional variations and changes in biological affinity over time. This is being carried out with Joel Irish (Liverpool John Moores University, UK) and Ana Maria Silva (Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal).

                  2. Stable isotope analysis of ovicaprids from the Copper Age settlement of Zambujal, to assess changes in herding practices/environment between 4th-2nd millennia BCE, with Anna Waterman (Mount Mercy University), Rob Tykot (University of South Florida), and Michael Kunst (German Archaeological Institute, Madrid, Spain).

                  3. Analysis of settlement pattern changes in the Sizandro Valley between the Neolithic and Bronze Age, with Andre Mano (University of Twente, Netherlands) and Leonel Trindade, (Museu Municipal Leonel Trindade).

                  4. A multiproxy study, using a large database of radiocarbon dates, associated delta 13C values, and pollen cores, to evaluate the relationship between the 4.2 kya (Bond 3) event and demographic/cultural changes, with Brandon Lee Drake (University of New Mexico), Antonio Blanco-González (University of Valladolid, Spain), and José Antonio López Sáez (CSIC, Madrid, Spain).

You can read more and access publications about this research on the Bolores Project website: http://bolores.lib.uiowa.edu

Courses Taught: 

Introduction to Prehistory

Archaeological Methods

Politics of the Archaeological Past (undergraduate course)

Archaeology of the Iberian Peninsula

Anthropology of Death

Tribes and Chiefdoms of Ancient Europe

Archaeological Approaches to Social Change

Stuff of Lives: Archaeology of the Material World

Seminar: Archaeological Theory and Method

Seminar: Politics of the Archaeological Past