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 Dòmhnall Crystal BA (Hons), MPhil

Dòmhnall Crystal

BA (Hons), MPhil

Research student, Archaeology, School of History, Archaeology and Religion


Scholarly interests

  • Post-colonial studies

  • Ethnic identity

  • Thracian Iron Age archaeology

  • GIS

  • Phenomenology


My principal scholarly research interests have, thus far, been focused on issues surrounding identity – both ancient and modern – within the context of northern Greece and southern Bulgaria. My most recent project was focused on the expression of ethnic identity in areas considered ‘Thracian’ in order to assess the relationship between material culture and ethnic groups in the Iron Age Balkans. 

Conference Sessions Organised

  • Thracian Interactions: cultural encounters, ideology, and osmosis’ - July 2020, Fédération internationale des associations d’études classiques, University College London

  • Materiality of Time: Phenomenology and its Place in Archaeology’ - December 2017, TAG (Theoretical Archaeological Group Conference), Cardiff University

Papers Given

  • ‘The Question of Material Variability in Iron Age Thrace’ - March 2020, Ancient History Seminar Series, Cardiff University

  • ‘Identities and material variability in Iron Age Thrace’ - July 2019, Fédération internationale des associations d’études classiques, University College London

  • ‘Thraco-Scythian identities and interactions’ - September 2018, Annual European Archaeological Association, Conference Universitat de Barcelona

  • ‘Who Were the Thracians?’ - July 2018, Wales Classics & Ancient History colloquium, Gregynog - Wales

  • ‘The Thracians and the development of the Bulgarian nation-state’ - March 2018, Archaeology and Identity workshop, University College London

  • ‘Postphenomenology and Archaeology’ - December 2017, TAG (Theoretical Archaeological Group Conference), Cardiff University

  • ‘Twenty-first century romanticism with the communist past’ - May 2016, Postgraduate Research Symposium, Cardiff University


  • Crystal, D. 2019. Why Bulgarians want to conserve Communist monuments. The Conversation.

  • Crystal, D. 2019. Strì ar n-Ainmean. Air eadar-theangachadh le Marcas Mac an Tuairneir. Buaidh 3(1), 1-2.    

  • Crystal, D. 2018. Postphenomenology and archaeology: towards a temporal methodology. Time and Mind Journal 11(3), 297-304.


Research interests


  • All Saints Church York, England - 2014-2015, Role: Excavator and supervisor, Organisation: ‘DIG’ by York Archaeological Trust

  • Clarkly Hill, Scotland - 2013, Role: Excavator, Organisation: Dr Fraser Hunter - National Museum of Scotland


  • Cardiff University, September 2016 - November 2020, PhD Archaeology & Ancient History, Thesis title: ‘Who were the Thracians? A material perspective of ancient ethnicity’, Supervisors: Prof. James Whitley & Dr Emma Aston

  • University of Cambridge, September 2015 - July 2016, MPhil Archaeology, Thesis title: ‘Megalithic Landscapes and Social Transformations in Iron Age Thrace’, Supervisor: Dr Simon Stoddart

  • Cardiff University, September 2012 - July 2015, BA (Hons) Archaeology & Ancient History, Thesis title: ‘Reconsidering the Goddess with Upraised Arms in LM-IIIC Crete’, Supervisor: Prof. James Whitley


Who were the Thracians? a material perspective on ancient ethnicity

This project investigates the relationship between material culture and ethnic groups in Iron Age Thrace (northern Greece and southern Bulgaria). Within the past two decades, studies involving the investigation of ethnic identity have witnessed a persistent but low interest from archaeologists, with the last major pieces of work on the topic published in the late 1990s. It was, therefore, the purpose of this project to update these investigations concerning ethnicity and archaeology through an investigation of a 'people' who are often heavily couched in ethnic terms - the Thracians. From the perspective of the Greek authors and other contemporary ancient evidence, the Thracians have been inconsistently depicted both as a single ethnic group with shared customs and as a series of distinct groups with their own traditions and material culture. Therefore, it was the purpose of this project to assess the material basis of such ethnic claims made by the ancient historical authors using the corresponding archaeological evidence. Thus, building on past discursive and materially-focused approaches to ethnicity as began by Siân Jones (1997), a more archaeologically applicable method was created in order to deduce its existence in the past. Thus, through a renewed theoretical conceptualisation of ethnicity in the past, a new understanding of the ethnic makeup of Thrace and the Thracians could be offered and used to support the depictions ascertained from the ancient literary evidence. Overall, the project discovered that despite the ancient Greek authors inconsistently discussing the ethnicity of the groups in this area, it was found through the analysis of specifically funerary data that a much broader range of regional identities were in fact being expressed throughout the Early and Late Iron Ages (1200-300B.C.).

Mae’r prosiect hwn yn mynd i’r afael â mynegiant hunaniaeth grwpiau bugeiliol tymhorol mewn ardaloedd a ystyrir yn ‘Thraciad’ gan ddefnyddio data o archeoleg angladdol er mwyn asesu’r berthynas rhwng diwylliant materol a grwpiau ethnig yn y Balcanau. O safbwynt yr awduron Groegaidd, cafodd y Thraciaid - a oedd yn gymunedau bugeiliol tymhorol cynhanesyddol de Bwlgaria a gogledd Gwlad Groeg - eu labelu fel un grŵp ethnig. Mae'r hyn sydd wedi bod yn absennol o drafodaethau archeolegol ynghylch y Thraciaid yn gydnabyddiaeth y gallai'r cymunedau yn yr ardal fod wedi mynegi hunaniaethau ethnig gwahanol. Ac eto, mae dulliau'r gorffennol o hunaniaeth ethnig yn y rhanbarth wedi'u hadeiladu yng nghyd-destun cymdeithasau gwladwriaethol amaethyddol parhaol. Nod fy mhrosiect PhD, felly, oedd adeiladu ar y dulliau hyn yn y gorffennol er mwyn creu diffiniad o ethnigrwydd a oedd yn ymgorffori cymunedau bugeiliol tymhorol fel y Thraciaid yn ystod yr Oes Haearn (10fed-4edd ganrif B.C.). Ar y cyfan, canfu'r prosiect, er gwaethaf yr awduron Groegaidd hynafol sy'n labelu'r cymunedau yn yr ardal hon ag un label ethnig, bod y grwpiau hyn mewn gwirionedd wedi mynegi hunaniaethau rhanbarthol penodol trwy adeiladu eu henebion angladdol. At hynny, roedd y canlyniadau'n dangos, er nad oedd cymunedau yn yr ardal wedi'u setlo'n barhaol, roedd y mynwentydd a'r lleoedd marwolaeth yn darparu pwyntiau parhaol i'r rhanbarth o fewn tirwedd symbolaidd y gymuned lle gellid mynegi hunaniaethau rhanbarthol.

Funding source

AHRC Funded Project


James Whitley

Professor James Whitley

Professor in Mediterranean Archaeology, Deputy Head of Archaeology and Conservation