Katina Lillios, Ph.D.

Departmental Executive Officer (Chair)

View Current CV

I am an anthropological archaeologist interested in the ways people used 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 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.

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.


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.

Between 2007-2012, I directed excavations at the Copper Age burial site of Bolores (Torres Vedras, Portugal). The Bolores excavations were part of a larger project, funded by the National Science Foundation, which sought to determine what caused the collapse of complex societies around 2200 BCE in the Sizandro River valley, west-central Portugal. It also attempted to evaluate the factors and dynamics involved in the broader transformations of Iberian societies between the fourth-second millennia BCE. You can read more and access publications about this research on the Bolores Project website: http://bolores.lib.uiowa.edu. In 2015, our team published the site monograph In Praise of Small Things: Excavations at the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age Burial of Bolores (Torres Vedras), Portugal.

Following the completion of the Bolores project, I turned to preparing a synthesis of Iberian archaeology, as it had been 50 years since a comprehensive survey of the prehistoric archaeology of Portugal and Spain had been written. With the support of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, I wrote Archaeology of the Iberian Peninsula, from the Paleolithic through the Early Bronze Age, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020.

Click here for my Academia.edu page.

Current Research

I am currently involved in developing two new research projects:

  1. Hybrid Temporalities: This project will explore the nature of Islamic engagement with the pre-Islamic material remains of the Iberian Peninsula, particularly prehistoric megalithic sites, at the time of al-Andalus.
  2. Writing Before History: This project will expand on my earlier work on the engraved stone plaques of Neolithic Iberia to help us better understand the plaques’ biographies and how they may have functioned as a recording system.

Courses Taught

  • World Archaeology
  • Archaeological Methods
  • Politics of the Archaeological Past  
  • Archaeology of the Iberian Peninsula
  • Anthropology of Death
  • First Peoples 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
  • Seminar: Dissertation Writing

Affiliations & Links 

Research areas
  • Archaeology
  • European Archaeology
Katina Lillios
Ph.D., Yale University, 1991
Contact Information

127B Macbride Hall (MH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States


127 Macbride Hall (MH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States