The PlaCe-ITN fellows are a dynamic group of Early-Stage Researchers from around the world (Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, the UK, the US, and Russia) working on premodern plasters and ceramics from the eastern Mediterranean. At this site, you will find information about our fellows' academic profiles and their doctoral research within the framework of PlaCe-ITN. 

ESR01 - Chase Minos


Research topic: Raw materials in the production of ancient Cypriot ceramics. Sampling the Cypriot geo-environment

The aim of the project is to investigate different technological aspects of pottery production during the Late Bronze Age in Cyprus, focusing primarily on the everyday, utilitarian shapes, such as plain tablewares and cooking pots from various sites on the island. This is essentially a technological investigation into raw material selection and processing at regional and inter-regional levels, for understanding the impact of the environment and of the evolving potting technologies in ceramic composition. Crucially, it is also at this time that a new technology was introduced to Cyprus, the potter’s wheel. The project then will be interdisciplinary and include a morphological study of site ceramic assemblages that will be combined with the technological and compositional study of ceramic samples, the acquisition and comparative study of geological samples from the broader regions under investigation. It will also involve experimental archaeology, for the replication and testing of technological observations made on archaeological ceramics. Ultimately, it is anticipated that this study will provide an insight into the evolution of ceramic technology during the crucial period of the Late Bronze Age, a period of significant socio-economic, political, and technological transformations. 

Chase's work so far has, therefore, consisted of reading excavation reports and catalogues of pottery from various Late Cypriot settlements, tombs and production sites and has also started to familiarize himself with the geology of Cyprus. Chase has also resumed his training with a local potter in Nicosia, in order to prepare for future experiments that will be planned for the project. While working at the CAARI library for the initial phase of literature review, the next step is to study site assemblages which are imperative for the definition of research questions and for designing a rigorous sampling strategy. The aim is to acquire of representative samples from synchronous, comparative contexts from each site under study, before moving to the analytical part of his research that will include a compositional and technological characterisation of the selected samples, a comparative study between the samples with clay-rich sediment samples, as well as experimental reproductions based on archaeological observations.

Host organisation: The Cyprus Institute - PhD enrolment: The Cyprus Institute 

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ESR02 - Ilia Kovalev


Research topic: Reconstructing the chaîne opératoire of technical ceramics for the production of Egyptian blue from the Late Bronze Age to the Roman era

The project aims to investigate the chaîne opératoire of Egyptian blue production, with the main focus on technical pottery involved in the process. Egyptian blue is considered one of the first artificial inorganic pigments produced by mankind. The earliest indications of its use are traced to the early fourth millennium BC and it became widely used since the Late Bronze Age. Egyptian blue is a common feature of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman artistic palette. Although the physical and chemical properties of the pigment itself have been addressed before, some stages of its production remain poorly understood. The ESR02 project will contribute to that field, by investigating raw materials selection, firing conditions and the design and use of technical pottery in Egyptian blue production. A set of archaeometric techniques will be used, including OM, XRD, XRF and SEM-EDS. Archaeological materials from different contexts will be analyzed on site and in the lab to understand how the availability of raw materials and the level of technical knowledge affected the way the pigment was produced. 

So far Ilia has been reviewing the literature on Egyptian blue production, with the main focus on production centres and case studies of lab recreation of the pigment. Ilia has been consulting with Dr Henning Franzmeier, the director of the Qantir-Pi-Ramesse-Project in order to select artefacts for on-site and laboratory analysis. He also has been creating a database of already available objects from Qantir and Memphis. In addition, as a PhD student, Ilia participates in seminars and lectures organized by the Graduate School of The Cyprus Institute.

Host organisation: The Cyprus Institute - PhD enrolment: The Cyprus Institute 

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ESR03 - Short-term fellowships* for doctoral students working on premodern ceramics and plasters 

ESR03.A - Maria Hadjigavriel


Maria is a PhD candidate and Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University, under the supervision of Dr. Bleda Düring and Professor Peter Akkermans. Maria’s research concerns primarily the Archaeology of Cyprus in Prehistory, specifically the Late Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, with a focus on pottery technology and interactions with Anatolia. Specifically, her focus is on the development of pottery technologies during that time and what they can tell us about inter- and intra-island interactions. Maria is also involved in the Palloures Archaeological Project as a ceramics specialist (

During her fellowship at STARC, Maria will be employing ceramic petrography and SEM analyses to study Late Chalcolithic (hereafter LChal) pottery from four sites across Cyprus, namely: Chlorakas-Palloures, Kissonerga-Mosphilia, Ambelikou-AgiosGeorghios and Politiko-Kokkinorotsos. The main aims of the project are to investigate the compositional and technological characterization of the dominant red and/or black pottery types selected; intra- and inter- site technological and compositional comparisons and Late Chalcolithic pottery technologies; and their degree of variability at a local, regional, and inter-regional level.

Host organisation: The Cyprus Institute - PhD enrolment: Leiden University

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ESR04 - Christiana Kelepeshi


Research topic: Shifting intra- and inter-regional foci of artisanal ceramic production in the region of Sagalassos (SW Turkey) from the Archaic to Byzantine period

Christiana received a Bachelor’s degree in History and Archaeology with specialisation in Archaeology from the University of Cyprus (2015-2019) and then moved on to complete an MSc in Archaeological Science at the University of Oxford (2019-2020). Her PhD project focuses on the application of archaeometric analyses (thin-section petrography and geochemical characterisation) for the study of tableware production at the archaeological site of Sagalassos in southwest Turkey (Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project). The aim of this project is to develop a better understanding of intra-regional patterns of ceramic exchange in the wider geographical area, e.g. in relation to Seleucia Sidera and Perge, and to reconstruct the ceramic production organisation and craft technology at Sagalassos in the long-term, from Archaic until Byzantine times. The conceptual framework of ceramic koine will be used to illustrate the distinct characteristics of the local ceramic repertoire which at the same time formed part of a larger shared ceramic vocabulary. Following this diachronic approach, it will be possible to examine Sagalassos Red Slip Ware (SRSW) in relation to the pre-existing ceramic tradition in the region and investigate the mechanisms behind the emergence and development of SRSW through time.

So far, Christiana has been focusing on literature review and the design of the sampling strategy that will be employed. Currently, she is working on the selection of the ceramic samples that will be included in the study and the recording of the macroscopic characteristics of their ceramic fabric and slip.

Host organisation: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - PhD enrolment: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 

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ESR05 - Matilde Quilici


Research topic: Roman concrete throughout the empire: composition and strength

Roman architecture and construction are widely renowned because of their remarkable state of survival. Much of Roman architectural achievements can be attributed to mortars, concrete and plasters as they play an important role for the building and construction process. This PhD will explore the material properties of mortars, concrete and plasters from the archaeological site of Sagalassos by employing a range of analytical techniques (macroscopic recording, thin section analysis, SEM-EDS, mechanical testing) to provide an in-depth technological characterization. The research will examine material used for a number of purposes (walls, floors, masonry, pointing, rendering etc.) from a variety of settings (public/private and water/non-water related). The material will be dating back to the Roman Empire period (approximately end of 1st century BC-5th century AD), as mortar-making practices reached a peak at this time. Finally, the Sagalassos perspective will be compared and integrated with other selected sites across the Roman Empire, to come to a broader understanding of this practice.

Currently, Matilde has been doing literature review to familiarise herself with the Sagalassos archaeological site as well as the state-of-the-art of concrete, mortar and plaster investigations. Furthermore, she has been cataloguing and recording the available material from the site for an informative sample selection. Finally, she has attended training and HSE courses alongside seminars. 

Host organisation: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - PhD enrolment: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven 

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ESR06 - Sara Carrion Anaya

Sara Carrion Anaya Picture





Research topic: Early Ceramic Technologies and Traditions in the Edom Lowlands Region of Southern Jordan: A   Diachronic Perspective

The aim of Sara's present project is to document and study the traditions of ceramic manufacture and use at several previously excavated sites dating from Pottery Neolithic (7th millennium BCE) to the Iron Age (ca. 1200-500 BCE) in the Edom Lowlands region of southern Jordan. By combining macroscopic, petrographic and compositional analytical techniques (pXRF, LA-ICP-MS, SEM-EDS, XRD), the research seeks to investigate whether the composition, provenance of raw materials and technology used to manufacture the ceramics changed over time and to understand the organisation of pottery production in every period. The study also aims to shed light onto the role played by pottery production in the emergence of complex societies in southern Jordan and in the rise and development of copper metallurgical production. The research conducted in the Edom Lowlands region has mainly focused on the study of the development of copper metallurgy during the Bronze and Iron age due to the high intensity of copper metallurgical production attested for both periods. However, the reasons for the rise of metallurgy in this area are still poorly understood. In contrast to archaeometallurgical research, studies of ceramic composition, technology and provenance are scarce and non-existent for some periods. Therefore, the present study will contribute to increase the current knowledge about the evolution of pottery traditions in the Edom Lowlands region in southern Jordan from the Pottery Neolithic to the Iron age and to better understand trade and exchange patterns and the sociopolitical organisation of these communities in every period.

So far Sara has been doing some literature review about the main sites and chronological periods and she will be focusing on (Pottery Neolithic to Iron Age). In order to deepen into the topic, she has also been attending the ARCL0151 module ‘Neolithic and early Bronze Age of the Near East: The emergence of villages and urban societies’ (MA module, Term I. Coordinator: Dr. Karen Wright) and has also enrolled into the Module ARCL0200 ‘Middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age in the Near East: City-States and Empires’ (MA module, Term II. Coordinator: Mark Altaweel). Parallale to the above, Sara has started her training in LA-ICP-MS at UCL Institute of Archaeology and will soon be trained in XRD at the same university. The materials she is using for her training in these analytical techniques are directly associated with her PhD topic and research area as she will be analysing a specific set of ceramics from the Chalcolithic site of Shiqmim in the Negev desert in Israel which is considered to have been a main centre for copper metallurgical production at that time and it is known that the source of the copper ores was located in the Faynan region in the Edom Lowlands Region in southern Jordan. Thus, this study will not only provide Sara with the training needed to undertake her PhD but also with a better understanding of trade and exchange networks between the Negev and the Faynan region.

Host organisation: University College London - PhD enrolment: University College London

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ESR07 - Archontoula Barouda


Research topic: Ceramic and Plaster Technologies and Traditions at Neolithic Makri, Thrace, Greece Ceramic

Archontoula has obtained her BA and MA degrees in Archaeology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, with a specialisation in prehistoric Aegean. During her previous studies, Archontoula focused on various theoretical concepts on Aegean prehistory such as technological transfer, acculturation, integration, and assimilation, and got involved in survey and field projects in Crete, the Cyclades and Greek Mainland. In 2021 under the Onassis Foundation fund, she completed her MSc studies in Archaeological Science at the University College of London (UCL) during which she gained experience in thin-section petrography, pXRF, LA/LIBS-ICP-MS, SEM-EDS, and advanced data analysis methods for the study of the ceramic materials. Currently, Archontoula is pursuing complementary courses on the geochemical and mineralogical analysis of ceramic artefacts and applied statistical analysis employing ML methods. 

Her current doctoral research project investigates the ceramic and plaster technologies and traditions at the Neolithic site of Makri in Northern Greece, the only systematically excavated Middle and Late Neolithic site in the region of Aegean Thrace and an important contact zone between Anatolia and the Balkans. By documenting the craft technology and traditions of its inhabitants, the knowledge of the environment and connections to other sites, this research aims to add to the picture of the function of the site and expand our knowledge on the human behaviour in settled agro-pastoral societies in south-eastern Europe during the 6th and 5th mil. BC. The proposed project will approach these and other questions via detailed scientific study and analysis of ceramic and plaster materials from the Neolithic settlement of Makri and contribute to setting up a developed framework for the systematic and interdisciplinary study of the most abundant materials in archaeological sites.

Host organisation: University College London - PhD enrolment: University College London 

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ESR08 - Theodoros Vasileiou


Research topic: Early Medieval Ceramic Technology and Culture in the eastern Mediterranean

Theodore’s project focuses on the early medieval pottery from the eastern Mediterranean region (7th-9th CE). The term often used in literature for this poorly known period in terms of material culture is the Byzantine Dark Ages, a term that reflects how discomforting and puzzling this period stands for researchers. Traditional research dealt with those issues through narratives of stress, conflict and invasion which beset the Empire, resulting not only in its ruralisation and degradation of living standards but, quite emphatically, in a clear division between the world of Late Antiquity and the Early Meddle Ages in the eastern Mediterranean. This study aspires to explore this transitional period principally through an object-centred approach to trace how past communities reacted to such dramatic changes. Pottery, a necessity inextricably linked with human activity, will be examined in terms of continuation, innovation and resilience instead of displacement, destruction and decline. 

Theodore obtained his BA from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece (NKUA) and his MSc from Leiden University, in the Netherlands, where he specialised in pottery analysis (TL-OM). So far, Theodore's attention is on a literature review covering the chronological period under study. He also cares for acquainting himself with the sites and regions he intends to focus in the framework of his project at the library of the Archaeological Research Unit (ARU) of the University of Cyprus. Presently, he plans to organise his sample catalogue to include an array of representative ceramic productions from a broad geographical region in the eastern Mediterranean. To secure the necessary sample permits for his research, he has already contacted and addressed the designated Archaeological Services. To better equip himself with more skills, he attends courses offered by postgraduate programmes of the Department of History and Archaeology at the University of Cyprus. 

Host organisation: University of Cyprus - PhD enrolment: University of Cyprus  

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ESR09 - Myrto Kalofonou


Research topic: Sampling, characterisation and reproduction of historic plasters from Cyprus with special emphasis on hydraulic lime plasters

Myrto Kalofonou is a Chemical Engineer specializing in Material Science and has graduated from the National Technical University of Athens. She holds a master’s degree from the same institute on the “Protection of Monuments”- Direction of “Materials and Conservation Interventions”. In her previous studies, Myrto focused on the characterization of historic mortars from the Aedicule of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and the production and evaluation of possible restoration mortars for the monument. During this work, she gained experience in Digital Microscopy, Thin-section petrography analysis, XRay Diffraction (XRD) Analysis, Thermal Analysis (DTA-TG), Identification of microstructure (Porosity Measurements) and many other analytical techniques.

During her doctoral research project, Myrto will investigate plasters from the island of Cyprus, with a special emphasis on hydraulic plasters, used in the Classic, Hellenistic, Roman and Early Christian periods. She will focus on archaeological sites which have installations that are directly connected with the use of water, such as baths, cisterns, water reservoirs, baptisteries, pools, etc. She will examine the evolution of plaster technology during these periods and the difference in technology between hydraulic and non-hydraulic use of plasters. Following the sampling and characterization of the collected samples, she will attempt the reproduction of the plasters in order to examine the technology of production and to provide ‘recipes’ for possible restoration of such monuments. During this period, Myrto has been carrying out a literature review on historic building materials, such as mortars and plasters. She is also visiting archaeological sites dating in the archaeological periods mentioned above, in order to identify possible sampling areas. Other than that, she has been attending three graduate courses at the Department of History and Archaeology and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the University of Cyprus: 1) Introduction to building archaeology (ΑΡΧ652 Module) 2) Introduction to GIS (ΑΡΧ653 Module) and 3) Local and traditional building Materials (ΠΠΜ533 Module) that will provide her with experience and skills that she may use during her doctoral research.

Host organisation: University of Cyprus - PhD enrolment: University of Cyprus 

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ESR10 - Milica Radovic

Research topic: From Roman to Green cement: Technological developments and social aspects

Milica’s research targets the technological evolution of mortars in the south-eastern Mediterranean area focusing on the Dodecanese islands and Crete.It is anticipated that the detailed study of traditional mortar technologies can provide valuable knowledge of the design and materials used, which if adopted in modern production, may contribute towards sustainability. Therefore, the overall objective of the research is to understand the main cultural interactions and their impact on architecture, especially on the technological development of mortars. Through comparative studies and assessment, it will be possible to trace the evolution of building techniques and technological solutions expressed in the mortars’ composition and physicochemical properties. The systematic study of mortars will provide a deeper insight into how the change of civilizations in this territory altered mortar composition, the modification of their performance properties, and the motivation behind it. To achieve successful results, an extensive set of analyses will be implemented, from the field survey to laboratory experiments.

Milica has obtained her BA and MA degrees in Architecture at the University of Belgrade. In the year 2022, she finished her Advanced Master’s studies in the field of Structural Analysis of Monuments and Historical Structures. Currently, she’s carrying out bibliographic research to get familiar with material technologies in the Eastern Mediterranean area while training in diverse techniques of Historic mortars characterization.

Host organisation: National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos” 

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ESR11 - Holly Bartlet Balicki


Research topic: A Diachronic Study of the Design and Technology of Attic Transport Jars

Holly's project aims to address technological choices and elements of design, through changes in component materials, their treatment and the vessel morphology of transport amphorae from Attica, Greece, from the early third millennium BCE to the 9th century CE; including a focus on ceramic production in south-western Attica. The combination of petrographic, compositional and computational analytical techniques will help to understand continuity and change in the choice and manipulation of raw materials, techniques of forming and construction, surface modification and firing. Contextualising this within a social world and taking an archaeologically and anthropologically informed approach will enable a long-term perspective on the design and technology of transport amphorae to be developed and applied.

At Demokritos, Holly has begun her training in thin section petrography, finite element analysis, experimental approaches and concepts of testing strength and toughness using 3D scanning and digital modelling of objects. Holly has started to think about the contextualisation of these maritime transport containers within the wider social world.

Host organisation: National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos” - PhD enrolment: University of Thessaly 

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ESR12 - Timothée Ogawa


Research topic: Culinary traces of the past: Aegean-Balkan mobility and interaction at the dawn of urbanisation through an interdisciplinary study of cooking practices and pots

The project aims to develop a better understanding of everyday life in prehistoric Macedonia through the study of cooking ware during the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. Archaeological research on these periods in Macedonia, and in Northern Greece in general, lacks behind that of areas in southern Aegean, hence the organisation of everyday life is still much poorly understood. The location of the area at the interface between the Aegean World and the Balkans makes it an ideal subject for the study of cultural interaction phenomena. In that respect, the diachronic and interdisciplinary study of the life-cycle of cooking ware offers fertile soil for shedding new light on issues regarding the intra-settlement organization and inter-settlements contacts. The emphasis is put on the analysis of the production, intra-settlement distribution and consumption of cooking ware. This holistic approach thus tackles multiple themes of ceramic studies: ceramic tradition and the chaîne opératoire of cooking pots, as well as the culinary practices and foodways, and the cultural mobility and interactions between communities of different identities. To carry out this technological and functional study of cooking ware, an interdisciplinary methodology will be used, combining macroscopic examination with laboratory analyses (petrography, elemental analysis and organic residue analysis) and experimentation. The cooking pot assemblages will be primarily from the settlement of Toumba Thessalonikis, however other neighbouring sites will have to be considered in order to get a broader picture of the role, place and evolution of cooking pots in past societies of prehistoric Macedonia. 

Timothée received a BA and MA in Aegean prehistory from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Currently, he is carrying out a literature review to familiarize himself with prehistoric Macedonia, as well as the current archaeological and scientific approaches to the study of cooking ware. A trip to Thessaloniki is planned for the beginning of December for Timothée to familiarize himself with the material culture and landscape of the area (through museum visits and trips) but also to spend some time in the storerooms of the Toumba Thessalonikis excavations in order to start familiarising himself with the site’s material culture, the recording system and, most importantly, to undertake discussions with the directors and staff of the excavation and plan his study seasons.

Host organisation: British School at Athens - PhD enrolment: University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

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ESR13 - Caterina Zaggia


Research topic: Plaster production in Late Antiquity: materials and techniques

Caterina did her undergraduate studies at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, in Technology for Conservation and Restoration, focusing on the chemical analysis of cultural heritage materials. She then completed her Master’s in Science for the Conservation-Restoration of Cultural Heritage at the University of Bologna. As thesis project, she used optical coherence tomography to evaluate the feasibility of a new green nanogel for the removal of damaged terpenic varnishes on easel paintings, at the Physics Department of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Poland. Currently Caterina is a PhD student in Archaeological Science at the University of Cambridge University (UK), working under the supervision of professors Marcos Martinon-Torres and Matthew Collins at the Department of Archaeology, but also Helen Strudwick and Julie Dawson, from the Fitzwilliam Museum, who are very important points of reference. 

Her project is focused on the analysis of plasters such as cartonnage and other pastes on ancient Egyptian coffins, capitalising on the collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The core aim is to chart the evolution techniques from the Old Kingdom until the Roman Period, and compare the information from coffins to that from plaster used elsewhere. The plan is to prioritize not-invasive or micro-invasive techniques such as XRF, SEM-EDS and µCT scanning.

Host organisation: University of Cambridge - PhD enrolment: University of Cambridge 

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ESR14 - Ismael Rodriguez 


Research topic: Container and content: integral analyses of Mediterranean amphorae

Ismael has obtained his BSc in Biotechnology from the Polytechnical University of Madrid and MSc in Bioinformatics at the University of Copenhagen, while working in medical transcriptomics. Eventually, he got involved in projects that required the application of bioinformatic skills to large datasets in palaeoproteomics. He then worked as a DNRF and Beast to Crafts Research Assistant in computational palaeoproteomics at the University of Copenhagen. Ismael's research interests lay within the field of palaeoproteomics and computational proteomics and specifically in the development of computational methods that allow authentication of ancient proteins and increase the information we can obtain from ancient protein datasets by studying protein decay processes.

His PhD project centres on the relationship between the inorganic matrix of amphorae and proteins conserved in it in the eastern Mediterranean. The main questions are how we can extract and identify those proteins, and how well preserved they are in connection with the ceramic matrix, and what this connection can tell us about ceramic production, storage, transport, and culinary practices.

Host organisation: University of Cambridge - PhD enrolment: University of Cambridge

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ESR15 - Paola Pizzo


Research topic: Characterisation of binders used for premodern plasters in the ever-changing urban environments

The project aims to analyze and characterize the components of plasters employed in the Cypriot urban landscape in pre-modern times. The project will interest the geographical region of Nea Paphos, with the key archaeological sites being Kouklia-Palaepaphos and Nea Paphos. Further neighboring sites will be taken into account in order to have a broader overview of the architectural and constructional habits in the area. In particular, the focus will be on the late phase of the EC-LC settlement of Kissonerga-Skalia, on the short-living fortified city of Maa-Palaiokastro, and on the Classical and Hellenistic periods of Yeronisos Island, all located in the immediate vicinity of the modern town of Paphos. As to the chronology, the study spans from the beginning of the Late Bronze Age (around 1600 BCE) to the Early Roman Period (approximately II century AD). This broad chronological frame allows a holistic understanding of the evolutions in terms of plaster production.

Up to now, Paola has been doing bibliographical research, along with training courses to enhance her knowledge on the subject of the project. She has been regularly taking part in the educational activities of the Charles University, such as seminars, workshops and meetings with fellow doctoral researchers. Furthermore, she is preparing to attend the XVIII Postgraduate Cypriot Archaeology meeting in Basel, as a lecturer. 

Host organisation: Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Czech Academy of Sciences (ITAM) - PhD enrolment: Charles University

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