Michela Spataro


+44 (0)20 7323 8342


Michela is responsible for scientific analyses of clay and stone artefacts in the Museum collection. She uses optical microscopy and Scanning Electron Microscopy to identify raw material sources and the technological processes used to produce these artefacts.

She is particularly interested in the provenance of ceramic raw materials (clays and mineral inclusions) which can indicate where a pot was manufactured, and therefore shed light on patterns of pottery production and trade in the past. She has also worked on porcelain, clay tablets, mosaic tesserae, stoneware, marble and sandstone, and collaborates with conservators to assess changes in the condition of marble or limestone statues.

Before joining the Museum in 2007, Michela was a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow at UCL Institute of Archaeology, studying the early Neolithic Starčevo-Criş Culture in Romania, Serbia and Croatia, which produced the earliest pottery in continental Europe. This project was linked to her PhD research, also at UCL Institute of Archaeology, on early and middle Neolithic pottery production and circulation in the Adriatic region (Italy and Croatia).

Since 2003 she has also been a lecturer in Balkan and European prehistory at Ca’ Foscari University (Venice, Italy).

Current projects

Naukratis, the Greeks in Egypt (ceramics)

Amara West, Sudan (ceramics)

Wendorf early pottery collection from Nubia (ceramics)

Previous projects

Domuztepe and Halaf ceramics

Mortaria production from the Eastern Mediterranean region

Scientific study of ceramics from Ringlemere Anglo Saxon cemetery

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Lecturer of the MA course in European and Balkan prehistory at Venice University (Italy)

Honorary Research Associate of the Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Editor of The Old Potter’s Almanack

Member of the Italian archaeological mission in Pakistan

Member of the Italian archaeological mission in Romania

Member of the Interdepartmental Centre for Balkan Studies (Venice International University)

Member of the Ceramic Petrology Group (UK)

Selected publications

Spataro, M. 2018: Origins of specialization: The ceramic Chaîne Opératoire and technological take-off at Vinča‐Belo Brdo, Serbia. Oxford Journal of Archaeology. doi-org.brad.idm.oclc.org/10.1111/ojoa.12140

Spataro, M., Mommsen, H., Villing, A. 2018: Making pottery in the Nile Delta: ceramic provenance and technology at Naukratis, 6th-3rd centuries BC. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. doi.org/10.1007/s12520-017-0584-4

M. Spataro, The First Farming Communities of the Adriatic: Pottery Production and Circulation in the Early and Middle Neolithic (Trieste, Società per la Preistoria e Protostoria della Regione Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Quaderno 9, 2002)

M. Spataro (ed.) A Short Walk Through the Balkans: the First Farmers of the Carpathian Basin and Adjacent Regions, with P. Biagi (Trieste, Società per la Preistoria e Protostoria della Regione Friuli-Venezia Giulia Quaderno 12, 2007)

Spataro, M. 2011. A Comparison of Chemical and Petrographic Analyses of Neolithic Pottery from South-Eastern Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (2): 255-269.

Spataro, M. and. A. Fletcher. 2010. Centralisation or regional identity in the Halaf period? Examining interactions within fine painted ware production. Paléorient, 36 (2): 91-116.

M. Spataro and  Villing, A, Scientific Investigation of Pottery Grinding Bowls in the Archaic and Classical Eastern Mediterranean, British Museum Technical Research Bulletin 3 (2009): 89-100.

Spataro, M. The Neolithisation of the Central Balkans: leapfrogging diffusion and cultural transmission. In Gronenborn, D. and Petrasch, J. (eds.) Die Neolithisierung Mitteleuropas/The spread of the Neolithic to central Europe, (2010): 79-90. RGZM Tagungen.

Spataro M.   Cultural Diversities: the Early Neolithic in the Adriatic region and Central Balkans. A Pottery perspective. In Gheorghiu D. (ed.) Early Farmers, Late Foragers, and Ceramic Traditions: On the Beginning of Pottery in the Near East and Europe, (Chapter 4). Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne (2009), 63-86.

M. Spataro, ‘Pottery production in the Thar Desert (Sindh, Pakistan): three case-studies (Hindwari, Pir chebo, and Hingorja)’. Rivista di Archeologia, XXVIII, (2004), pp. 171-180