Helen Dawson studied prehistoric archaeology at the University of Cambridge and the Institute of Archaeology (UCL). Her current project builds on her PhD, which was a comparative study of prehistoric colonisation and abandonment processes in the Mediterranean islands. This research covered the whole Mediterranean, from the Balearics to Cyprus, and chronologically spanned a period of over 10,000 years, from the earliest visits to the islands to the establishment of complex societies. Helen’s monograph based on this research will be published in Autumn 2013 by Left Coast Press, as part of its UCL Institute of Archaeology Series.

Helen’s research within Topoi’s Junior Research Group Identities focuses on understanding «sense of place» and identity within Sicily’s minor islands during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Natural and cultural features contribute to an island’s distinctiveness. The physical characteristics of islands may lead to geographical isolation; nonetheless, over time, island communities can be seen to establish complex networks and develop distinct identities. Thus, from a theoretical perspective, islands offer excellent case studies for analysing the construction of space and identities. The methodology will combine GIS and experiential fieldwork, traditionally separate approaches, in order to investigate the location and setting of domestic, funerary, and ritual sites. These are likely to reflect people’s perceptions of their island worlds, their relations to the mainland and to the sea. The study will shed light on issues of space-related identity, liminality, physical vs. symbolic boundaries, as well as connections between places.