A University of Cincinnati student was the was the third classics graduate student in a decade to win an Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) award Feb. 1.
Alice Crowe, a doctoral candidate specializing in Aegean Prehistory in the UC Department of Classics, received the AIA’s Harriet and Leon Pomerance Fellowship in the archaeology of the Bronze Age Aegean for 2020-2021.
Crowe received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Archaeology and Classical Civilization from Boston University. She completed her Master of Arts degree at the University of Cincinnati with her thesis entitled, “The Minoan Past in the Past: Bronze Age Objects in Early Iron Age Burials at Knossos, Crete.”
She has participated in fieldwork in Crete and Mainland, Greece, Turkey, Albania and Cyprus at sites spanning in date from the Bronze Age to the Roman periods. Crowe spent the 2018-2019 year at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) as the Emily Townsend Vermeule fellow and is returning to the ASCSA for the 2019-2020 year as the Gorham Phillips Stevens fellow.
Crowe’s research interests consist of the archaeology of Late Bronze Age Crete, urbanism and urban decline, household archaeology, the reuse of objects in antiquity and Bronze Age and Early Iron Age burial practices.
The purpose of the award is to support an individual project of a scholarly nature, associated to the Aegean Bronze Age Archaeology. Preference is given to candidates whose project requires travel to the Mediterranean.
The award is for her dissertation project, entitled, “Beyond the Walls of the Labyrinth: A Site-wide Perspective on Final Palatial and Postpalatial Knossos.” This is the study of the Greek archaeological site of Knossos, located in Crete, in the 15th to 12th centuries B.C. that adopts a site-wide approach, looking at developments in both the elite core and the surrounding settlement.
Knossos is most famous for its palace. In Greek mythology, the palace was the setting for the legend of the Minotaur. Today, it is the second most visited archeological site in Greece.
Instead of focusing on Knossos’ palace, where most scholars give their attention, Crowe’s dissertation takes a deeper look at how the site functioned by analyzing developments in elite and non-elite parts of the city.
“Studying the ways in which a city — whether it is an ancient one, like Knossos, or a modern one, like Cincinnati — is organized and how it develops over time provides many clues into what the society living there was like,” Crowe said.
Crowe examines collections from the “mansions” and “villas” of the city center of Knossos and materials found in more outer areas of the site. Also including surface finds collected by a thorough survey of the Knossos valley and excavated deposits from outlying parts of the settlement.
During the fall semester, Crowe will use the award to support her stay at the Knossos Stratigraphical Museum, where she will inspect artifacts kept in the museum’s storerooms.
“One primary objective of my project is to determine what city in its entirety looked like,” Crowe said. “But this goal is difficult to achieve, because archaeological excavations have focused on the palace and the city’s elite neighborhoods, which represent a small portion of the total site.”
To address this problem, her dissertation draws upon several different datasets. The dataset Crowe will be using at the Knossos Stratigraphical Museum is a collection of artifacts recovered by an archaeological survey.
A survey consists of a team of archaeologists who systematically walk across a defined area of land and collect and record the artifacts they find on the ground. Crowe will be studying the finds that are recovered, which are almost exclusively fragments of pots.
Pottery is found everywhere; Crowe describes it as “the plastic of the ancient world”.
During her time in Crete, Crowe hopes to finish the data collection component of her project and then return to Cincinnati to synthesize her findings.
Beyond her work at the Stratigraphical Museum, Crowe also hopes to improve her proficiency in the Greek language.
“Currently, I can carry out basic conversations and I am great at ordering a cappuccino,” she said. “But I hope that by the end of my stay I’ll be having more extensive conversations.”