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Ann Brysbaert

Professor Ancient technology, crafts and materials

Prof.dr. A.N. Brysbaert
+31 71 527 5328


Ann works on aspects of monumental architecture and human ecology in Bronze Age Greece and the East Mediterranean, pre-industrial technologies and related social practices, the integration of science-based studies with theoretical approaches and science-based topics relating to pyrotechnologies, painted plaster and mortars, and workshop contexts.

From 2015 until 2020, Ann is Principal Investigator of an ERC Consolidator Grant project (grant nbr. 646667), based at the University of Leiden, entitled:

SETinSTONE. A retrospective impact assessment of human and environmental resource usage in Late Bronze Age Mycenaean Monumental Architecture, Greece’.

Ann continues to work for SETinSTONE on a full-time basis until the end of the project (August 2020). This work often takes her to libraries and archives abroad and, therefore, she is not always present at the Faculty. She can, however, be reached by email. 

Since 1998, Ann’s work focussed on the following projects, some are still ongoing:

In 2007 when still at University of Leicester (U.K.), Ann initiated the ‘Tracing Networks’ project, and together with Lin Foxhall, they applied and received a large Leverhulme Research Grant of 1.8 million pounds for 5 years (2008-2013); this was divided over three UK universities and nine sub-projects. Ann has been the PI for the ‘Cross-craft interaction in the cross-cultural context of the Late Bronze Age East Mediterranean’ project, based at Tiryns, Greece (via Leicester University) and Dr. M. Vetters worked on the project from 2009-13 as research associate. Currently, Ann is finalizing the co-authored monograph on this project: ‘Tracing Local, Regional and Interregional Craft Networks Viewed through a Technological  Lens at Late Bronze Age Tiryns. A Comparative Mycenaean Workshop Study. Universitätsforschungen zur Prähistorischen Archäologie. Reihe Heidelberg. Bonn: Rudolf Habelt’.

More details on this Tiryns-based project and its publications.

2013-2015: Architecture on the move

This project, funded by Ann’s Senior Marie – Curie Gerda Henkel Research Fellowship (Programme M4HUMAN): https://www.gerda-henkel-stiftung.de/m4human_eng explored new theoretical and fieldwork-based approaches to monumental constructions within the Late Bronze Age Greece, in order to understand both technical and social interactions that required several groups of people to move within and near the buildings. Additional funding for fieldschool and training came through the Finnish Institute Athens.  Ann asked how did people in the latter part of the Late Bronze Age organize themselves in order to be able to erect massive structures such as tholos tombs, citadels and how did they interact with these materials and circumstances while constructing? What impact did such a changing landscape have on their day-to-day lives? This project benefited from collaborations with Professor Dr. J. Maran, director of the Tiryns Excavations, University of Heidelberg; and with Dr. Alkesti Papadimitriou, director of the Δ´ Εφορεία Προϊστορικών και Κλασικών Αρχαιοτήτων at Nafplio, Greece.

2017-2027: Anchoring Innovations

Since 2017, Ann is also one of the many partners in a large consortium that received the NWO Gravitation Subsidy. This fund was awarded to prof. I. Sluiter (Leiden University) and prof. A. Lardinois (Nijmegen)  for their project called: “Anchoring Innovation”. Within the context of research into the innovation processes in Antiquity more generally, Ann will supervise one post-doc project from 2021 onwards, which will specifically relate to the Middle and Late Bronze Age Aegean. 

Also in 2017, she was awarded the World Cultural Council Special Recognition AwardSee the video here.

Other collaborative projects where Ann is actively involved are:

  1. Since 2016: FIA-Leiden collaboration at Salamis, Greece. PI: Prof. J. Pakkanen. As Co-trainer in 3D documentation field schools, Aegean Bronze Age expertise.
  2. Since 2017: Cambridge University, Prosilio project. PI: Dr. Y. Galanakis. As expert for Architectural 3D documentation and energetics/labour cost study of funerary monument.
  3. 2018-2020: J.P. Getty Foundation International Research Program: for ‘Material Entanglements in the Ancient Mediterranean and Beyond’. PIs: Prof. M. Feldman (J. Hopkins University, USA), Dr. A. Zournatzi (National Research Foundation, Athens, Greece). As invited expert member of group of 20 for workshops and world-wide online collaborative platform.
  4. Since 2018: Horsterworld Bronze Age House Experimental Project. Director: prof. A. van Gijn. As expert for Architectural 3D documentation.

Her ongoing passion for anything handmade, from crucibles to citadels, and its effects on people’s identities and well-being, resulted in the production of a Leiden University Research Dossier called: Making and Creating with Ages-Old Knowledge. Handcrafted Creations from the Past Provide Solutions for Issues Today. Ann composed this dossier together with several colleagues from across the Archaeology Faculty.

Curriculum Vitae

Ann Brysbaert (PhD 2004, University of Glasgow) is Professor/Chair of Ancient Technologies, Materials and Crafts at the Faculty of Archaeology, Department of Archaeological Sciences, Leiden University. From 2016 to 2018 she was Director of Research for the Faculty Board. Until 2017, she was Associate Professor/Reader in Material Culture Studies and Archaeological Sciences. Previously, she held academic positions at the University of Leicester (UK: 2004-2009); DIKEMES, Athens (Greece: 2009-2012); and at the University of Glasgow (UK: 2015). Between 2010 and 2013 she held a Senior A. von Humboldt Research Fellowship (University of Heidelberg, Germany) and between 2013 and 2014 a Senior Marie Curie – Gerda Henkel Research Fellowship at Leiden University. Since 2014, she is Professeur Invitée at the University of Bordeaux-Montaigne, and is member of the International Scientific Committee of the LaScArBx (France).

Ann is also a trained conservator of archaeological remains (BSc. Hons, UCL, Institute of Archaeology, London, 1996). She has built up c. 25 years of hands-on experience, has set up field labs (Crete, Belgium) and equipped conservation labs (Crete, Athens, Beirut), she has trained students in conservation both hands-on and preventive conservation in regular courses and lab settings since 1994, and has been functioning as a conservation consultant for over 15 years. She has worked as a conservator in Lebanon (UNESCO project, National Museum, Beirut), the Athenian Agora (American School of Classical Studies, Athens, Greece), INSTAP-SCEC (Crete, Greece), Kythera Survey Project (British School, Athens, Greece), M-Museum (formerly: Vander Kelen-Mertens Museum, Leuven, Belgium), among several other places. From 2009, she consults on the Kylene Harbour project (Director: Prof. J. Pakkanen) concerning conservation treatments of the materials that are found during the coastal survey seasons, mainly on objects found near the coastline in the sea water and thus prone to heavy weathering and corrosion patterns. She regularly advises on storing archaeological materials both in museums (display and storage) and on site, and on environmental control issues, topics she was also teaching and supervising at the University of Leicester between 2004 and 2013.

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Teaching activities

Ann has been teaching regularly since 1994, both in the field (first aid for finds on excavations), hands-on and preventive conservation in field and museum laboratories, and in university courses: in class room, in the field and distance learning (Leicester, Glasgow, Bordeaux, Amsterdam). She developed and taught both practical and theoretical courses in the fields of conservation and heritage, Aegean, Greek and East Mediterranean Archaeology, Theory in Archaeology, Ancient Materials and Technologies in the Ancient Greek World, and many others.

In Leiden, Ann (co)teaches BA and MA courses in:

  • BA Material science/Materiaalkunde I and II

  • BA World Archaeology: Aegean and East Mediterranean Bronze Age (Minoan, Mycenaean, Cycladic and related East Mediterranean Cultures until the Archaic period)

  • MA seminars on Material/Objects Biographies and the Built Environment

  • MA/PhD seminars on BA Aegean and East Mediterranean archaeology: selected topics

  • PhD seminars on Theoretical questions: selected topics

Key book publications

  1. 2008. The Power of Technology in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean. The Case of the Painted Plaster. (Monographs in Mediterranean Archaeology, 12). London: Equinox. 2015. 2nd print (paperback). Also see the reviews.
  2. 2011. Tracing Prehistoric Social Networks through Technology: A Diachronic Perspective on the Aegean. (Routledge Studies in Archaeology). London: Routledge. 2014. 2nd print (paperback)
  3. 2014. Material Cross-overs. Knowledge Networks and the Movement of Technological Knowledge between Craft Traditions. (Routledge Studies in Archaeology). London: Routledge. (jointly edited with K. Rebay-Salisbury and L. Foxhall)
  4. 2017. Artisans versus Nobility? Multiple Identities of Elites and ‘Commoners’ Viewed Through the Lens of Crafting from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Ages in Europe and the Mediterranean. Leiden: Sidestone Press. (jointly edited with A. Gorgues)
  5. 2018. Constructing Monuments, Perceiving Monumentality and the Economics of Building. Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to the Built Environment. Leiden: Sidestone Press. (jointly edited with Klinkenberg, V., Gutièrrez Garcia-M., A. and I. Vikatou)

Here you can find her full list of publications.

Since 2004, she regularly functions as anonymous reviewer for the following:

  1. journals: ‘Antiquity’, ‘Studi Micenei ed Egeo-Anatolici’; 'Journal of Anthropological Archaeology'; 'Studies in Conservation'; ‘Periodico di Mineralogia’; ‘Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology’; ‘Archaeometry’; ‘Journal of Cultural Heritage’; ‘Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry’; ‘Talanta. International Journal for Pure and Applied Analytical Chemistry’; ‘Museologia’.
  2. research project proposals submitted to: the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (Daresbury, UK); Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK); the Israel Science Foundation; Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO); EU proposals (e.g. Marie Curie applications; ERC applications).

PhD supervision

Within the context of SETinSTONE, Ann supervises 3 PhD projects:

  • Yannick Boswinkel, MA
  • Riia Timonen, MA
  • Daniel Turner, MA

Together with prof. Dr. J. Maran, she co-supervises the PhD research by Maribel Dorka-Moreno: ‘Metall und Gesellschaft – Metallobjekte der mykenischen Zeit aus Tiryns’.

Ann is interested in supervising PhD projects in the following fields:

  1. BA Aegean and East Mediterranean archaeology: ancient economies and contacts, material culture production and consumption
  2. Greek Archaeology and ancient economies
  3. Ancient technologies and social practices, esp. workshop studies, pyrotechnologies (ceramics, metals, plaster/mortars, pigments, glass)
  4. Science-based methods and theoretical interpretation of the material world
  5. Archaeological, anthropological and socio-political approaches to material culture
  6. Material and social aspects of use cycles, recycling, reuse, creativity in and crafting and innovative materials usage

Science in Archaeology Lunch Talks

Ann initiated the SALT (Science in Archaeology Lunch Talks)  talks in January 2016 in order to promote a closer collaboration between the Sciences and Archaeology at Leiden and beyond, and together with professor Annelou van Gijn and Irini Vikatou, an active and widely diverse programme brings 2-3 talks to the Faculty per semester. Past topics can be found in the SALT archive.

Professor Ancient technology, crafts and materials

  • Faculteit Archeologie
  • Archaeological Sciences
  • Material Culture Studies

Work address

Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Room number C1.22



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