School of History, Classics and Archaeology


Eleonora Montanari

Gendered Stories: Constructing identities through glass beads in Iron Age Italy and Iberia

Year started


Project outline

My research project aims to shed new light on the role of glass beads in the construction of personal and group identity including gender, age, status, and ethnicity in Iron Age Spain and Italy.
Traditionally interpreted as female or child ornamentation, glass beads from Iron Age burials have often been overlooked as identity markers in favour of metal artefacts, skewing the picture towards male, martial, and elite identities.

In order to redress this imbalance, I will apply a multi-disciplinary approach to investigate glass bead uses, combining funerary archaeology and scientific analysis (XRF, LA-ICP-MS, use-wear analysis and experimental archaeology).
By comparing objects from Iron Age burials in Italy and Spain (late 8th to 4th century BC) I will unveil the technology, life-histories, and funerary uses of glass beads in two regions of Europe, at a time of rapid socio-political change.

Funding awards

AHRC Northern Bridge DTP Studentship Award (2018-2021)

Conference papers

Duckworth, C. N, Montanari E. and Pitman D., Leading us on: in situ chemical mapping and excavation of a medieval furnace at the Alhambra, Granada, Spain. Approaches in the analysis of production at archaeological sites. International Workshop. Berlin, Germany (January 2018)

García Porras, A., Duckworth, C. N., Welham, K., Govantes, D., Alonso, M., Bermúdez, J., Jiménez, M. del C., Montanari, E., Moore, B., Ríos, J. M., La producción cerámica en Granada entre la época medieval y la moderna. Los talleres del Secano de la Alhambra a la luz de las recientes excavaciones arqueológicas. Glaze technology in the Western Mediterranean: Islamic and Christian traditions. International Workshop. Valencia, Spain (January 2018)

Fieldwork experience

Before starting my PhD, I worked for over five years in commercial and research archaeology in the UK and Europe, on sites ranging from the Neolithic to the Modern age. During my time as a professional archaeologist I trained and supervised staff on a variety of projects, including large infrastructure and research on which you can read my blog. In addition, I produced several unpublished grey literature reports on trial trenching, watching brief and open area excavation sites.

Academic qualifications

BA in Cultural Heritage Studies (Archaeology) - University of Milan - 2010
Thesis Title: La roccia n. 1 di Dos Sottolajolo (Paspardo, BS). Contributo allo studio dello stile IV dell’arte rupestre della Valcamonica.
(The Rock no. 1 in Dos Sottolajolo (Paspardo, BS). Contribution to the study of the style IV of Valcamonica rock-art.)

MA in Archaeology - University of Milan - 2013
Thesis Title: Il Forcello di Bagnolo S. Vito (Mantova). Le ceramiche dalle unità stratigrafiche di fase B dei settori di scavo Q-R 18-19.
(Forcello di Bagnolo S. Vito (Mantua). The pottery assemblages from Phase B contexts in sectors Q-R 18-19.)