School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Mara Lou Schumacher

Mara Lou Schumacher

From the archive to the microscope: an interdisciplinary approach to understanding domestic organization in ancient Greece


Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito, Dr Joseph Skinner, Professor Lisa Nevett (University of Michigan)

Year started


Project outline

My PhD project investigates the organization and use of space in ancient Greek households using a novel combination of traditional artefact and state of the art geoarchaeology, in comparison with Classical texts. How were different rooms used, how did it change over time and what can this tell us about the people that lived here? My case study is the city of Olynthos in Northern Greece, occupied from the 5th century BC until its destruction in the mid-4th century BC. It is known for its orthogonally planned layout and outstandingly preserved houses that are seen as the archetype for ‘typical’ domestic buildings in ancient Greece. My project focuses on the identification and characterization of ancient floor levels and occupation deposits within domestic buildings. The integration of geoarchaeological methods enables me to differentiate natural from anthropogenic processes based on the microstratigraphy of the archaeological deposits and associated chemical compounds that can be linked to human activities. Investigating domestic space provides a detailed picture of activities within households but also gives a better understanding of social relations and interactions between households and neighbourhoods in Greek antiquity. 

Funding awards

AHRC Northern Bridge DTP Studentship Award (2018-2021)

Presentations and conferences

Biomolecular and micromorphological analyses of suspected fecal deposits at Neolithic Aşıklı Höyük, Turkey. Presentation given at the Society for American Archaeology 83rd Annual Meeting, Washington DC. 2018

Academic qualifications

MSc Archaeological Sciences, Tübingen University
Dissertation title: Biomolecular and micromorphological analysis of suspected fecal deposits at Neolithic Aşıklı Höyük, Turkey
BA Geoarchaeology, Trier University
Dissertation title: Palynologische Untersuchungen von Pilzsporen aus dem Stausee der römischen Siedlung in Los Bañales (NO-Spanien)