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Dr Ellen Adams

Dr Ellen Adams

Ellen AdamsLecturer in Classical Art & Archaeology

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 2768
Address Department of Classics
King's College London
 C12, North Wing
London WC2R 2LS


I am an Aegean Prehistorian who has always been based in Classics.  I received my PhD from Cambridge in 2004 on Minoan Crete, specifically the Neopalatial period (c. 1700-1450 BC).  During my PhD, I spent a year as a Student at the British School at Athens, and I have been involved in fieldwork based in Britain, Greece, Bulgaria and Cyprus.  Before arriving at King’s in 2007, I held a Leverhulme Study Abroad Studentship based at the British School at Athens, and an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowship based at Trinity College Dublin.

Research interests and PhD supervision
  • Minoan (Neopalatial) Crete
  • Bronze Age Cyprus, and comparative island archaeology
  • The ancient world in modern London (history of museums)
  • The broken body: disability studies, Classics and collections

I am currently writing a book on Neopalatial Crete.  This synthesis explores the palaces, settlement patterns, and ritual sites of Europe’s first civilization, with a particular focus on the elite manipulation of ritual practices and other control networks, such as administration and the economy.  I am also keen to investigate comparative approaches to Mediterranean islands, particularly Crete and Cyprus.

Since arriving at London, I have also concentrated on the relationship between Classics and the history of museums, particularly those in this global city.  I have published articles on the history of classical collections, museums and their role in shaping modern thought.  I have also begun to explore Disability Studies, with a view to incorporating this relatively recent discipline into Classics and the history of collections. 

I am happy to supervise PhD students on topics related to the above areas. 

For more details, please see my full research profile.

Selected publications
  • Forthcoming. Cultural Identity and Social Strategies in Neopalatial Crete
  • Forthcoming. ‘Fragmentation and the body’s boundaries: reassessing the body in parts.’ In J. Draycott and E.-J. Graham (eds), Bodies of Evidence.
  • 2013. ‘Personal identity in Minoan Crete: the body as representation, agent and object.’ Bulletin of the Institute of Classical studies 56: 1-25.
  • 2013. ‘Shaping, collecting and displaying medicine and architecture: a comparison of the Hunterian and Soane museums.’  Journal of the History of Collections 25: 59-75. 
  • 2010. ‘Centrality, “capitals” and prehistoric cultures: a comparative study of Late Bronze Age Crete and Cyprus.’ Cambridge Classical Journal 56: 1-46. 

For a complete list of my publications, please see my full research profile.


I teach a range of topics in Greek archaeology and the history of museums to undergraduates, from an introductory module covering the entire sweep of Greek art and archaeology, to more specialized modules on classical collections in London’s museums, Greek religion, and Minoans and Mycenaeans.  I also teach dedicated MA modules, one on exhibiting classical collections, and one on the art of the Bronze Age Aegean.  

Expertise and public engagement

Ellen has appeared twice on Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’ with Melvyn Bragg, discussing the ‘Minoan civilization’ and the ‘Trojan War’.  She has also appeared on Radio 3’s ‘Night Waves’ discussing the decipherment of Linear B. 


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