Staff profiles

Photo of Dr Kristin Leith

Dr Kristin Leith

Honorary University Fellow

I am an Aegean archaeologist interested in gender, material culture and cultural and public engagement. I have been an Honorary University Fellow in the Classics and Ancient History Department since 2013. While here, I have conducted independent research producing peer-reviewed articles and chapters in academic outlets, presented research at international conferences and contributed to teaching.

As a teacher here at Exeter, I have created, delivered and coordinated research led modules for under- and postgraduates, such as ‘Gender in Late Bronze and Iron Age Greece’ (Term 1, 2016) and the MA module, ‘Interpreting material culture’ for the Research Methodologies module (Term 1, 2015 and 2016). I also co-taught the 1st-year seminar, ‘Greek temples’ (Term 2, 2016). Additionally, I have worked as the Finds Supervisor at Ipplepen as part of the Devon Archaeological Field School, Dept of Archaeology (Summer seasons 2015-2017), overseeing all aspects of finds processing for the excavation and supervising students.

I have also worked as a Curator's Assistant in the Ethnographic Department at Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) on the Discovering Worlds Project (2015-2016). As the research-lead on this project, I oversaw and undertook research on RAMM's Melanesian modified crania in the Pacific collection. As part of the project, I initiated and oversaw a collaboration between the Museum and the Department of Archaeology.

My PhD investigated the materiality of gender in Middle and Late Helladic mortuary behaviour in the Aegean (Institute of Archaeology, UCL, 2013). My doctoral thesis showed how the materiality of gender, status and mortuary ideology changed among different groups across space and time during the Middle and Late Bronze Age (c. 2100-1100 BC) in the Aegean.

Research interests

My research interest is in the materiality of gender and mortuary behaviour in Bronze and Iron Age Greece.


(Chapter).K. E. Leith. Forthcoming 2017. Threads of lives: the deposition of spindle whorls and shifting gender identities in Middle Helladic and Mycenaean burial practice. In Between Life and Death: Interactions between Burial and Society in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East (Proceedings of the International Conference held at the University of Liverpool, 11th – 12th May, 2011), BAR International Series. Oxford: Archaeopress.

(Article) Leith, K. E. 2016. 'Manly hearted' Mycenaeans' (?): challenging preconceptions of warrior ideology in Mycenae's Grave Circle B. Journal of Greek Archaeology(1).

Research collaborations

I recently worked as a researcher and Curator's Assistant under the direction of the Curator of Ethnography, Tony Eccles, at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter on the Discovering Worlds project. This project investigated the Melanesian modified crania in the Museum's Pacific Collection -- objects that had spent most of the 80-odd years since their donation packed safely away in store and hidden from view.

In this role, I instigated and acted as research lead on a collaboration between RAMM and the University of Exeter's Department of Archaeology, which facilitated the bioarchaeological analysis of RAMM's Melanesian skulls. For this project, I undertook research on the ethnographic and anthropological context of the skulls, as well as the donor histories; Dr. Catriona McKenzie conducted the macroscopic analysis; Prof. Alan Outram performed a use-wear and modification analysis, Dr. Linda Hurcombe analysed the materials used for decoration; and Professor of Radiology Iain Watt facilitated the CT Scanning and x-ray of the skulls.

The research was presented in the 'Curating Human Remains' Conference at the University of Bristol (2016) and has produced an article 'The materiality of mana: the research and display of RAMM's Melanesian modified crania' (in preparation). On 7 March at 1pm, the project will be discussed as part of a RAMM Lunchtime Talk, which is open to the public.


2015 - present: Finds Supervisor, Ipplepen Archaeological Project (University of Exeter)

2006 and 2007: Trench Assistant and Finds Processor, Lefkandi Excavation Project, Euboea, Greece. Under the direction of Prof. Irene Lemos (Oxford), Oxford and the British School at Athens

2006 and 2007: Fieldwalking and Finds Processing, Knossos Urban Landscape Patterns, Heraklion, Crete, Greece. Under the direction of Prof. Todd Whitelaw (UCL), Institute of Archaeology at UCL and the British School at Athens


I taught the research-led third-year seminar 'Gender in Mycenaean and Iron Age Greece' (CLA3120) and the MA Research Methodologies module 'Interpreting Material Culture' (CTM007) during Term 1 2016.

As the Finds Supervisor for the Ipplepen Archaeological Dig and FIeld School (2015-present), I supervise students in the field, teaching them about the processing of material culture and microartefacts.

For the 2015/2016 academic year, I taught the MA Research Methodologies module 'Interpreting Material Culture' (Term 1) and the Greek Temples Seminar (Term 2) in the Department of Classics and Ancient History here at the University of Exeter.

During Lent Term 2013, I was a Supervisor for the third-year undergraduate course - D1, Aegean Prehistory, under the direction of Dr. Yannis Galanakis, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge.

Modules taught


When I was 12, I had a plan: become a ballerina, retire at 30, then become an archaeologist. That's the simple version of what has happened so far... After dancing professionally as a contemporary dancer and founding and running a Los Angeles-based PR consultancy (1996-2003), which created bespoke marketing and audience development strategies for the performing arts, music and charity sectors, my interest in culture and gender compelled me to pursue post graduate study in London, where I received an MA in Classics from KCL in 2005 and a PhD from UCL in Archaeology in 2013.

Since then, I have worked in the Higher Education and Heritage & Culture sectors as a researcher and teacher: undertaking academic research projects, producing peer-reviewed publications, presenting research at international conferences and seminars, creating and delivering learning content as a teacher at the Universities of Cambridge (2013) and Exeter (2015-2017), overseeing multi-organisation collaborations and gaining extensive public engagement experience.

I am married to Dr. David Leith (Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History).