Prof. Gavin Lucas


Research Interests:

Archaeology, theory, time, material culture, modern world


Lucas Gavin is Professor for Archaeology at the University of Iceland. He gained his BA at University College London (1988) and his PhD from the University of Cambridge (1995), both in Archaeology. Alongside and after his studies, he worked in development-led or preventative archaeology until moving to Iceland in 2002 to the Insititute of Archaeology. In 2006 he joined the University of Iceland as lecturer in archaeology, where he is based today. Lucas has conducted fieldwork in various countries while today all his fieldwork is based in Iceland. His main research interests are in archaeological theory and the archaeology of the modern world.

Project Abstract

The conventional view in archaeology is that things exist in time, that (part of) our job is to identify as closely as possible, when something was made, used and discarded. But such a view takes time itself as something separate from things, where things simply inhabit time. This project starts from the idea that things make time, that instead of existing within time they actually constitute it, and that the temporality of the material world, of the artefactual world, is in fact far more complex than we usually give credit to. This is most evident in the way the presence of the past is manifest through the very things that constitute the archaeological record. But we can take this further and ask how the imbrication of past and present is also entangled in change.

To explore this idea, this project will examine the temporalities of the material and archaeological record of Iceland over its 1000 year history. Settled in the late 9th century CE, Iceland offers a natural social laboratory, being an island and comparatively isolated. Also being effectively historical archaeology, the study will benefit from the presence of a rich written record alongside  archaeological data for its thousand year time span. The goal is to attend to the ways in which objects structure the long-term history of the island and especially to explore other ways of understanding 'history' itself from a material point of view. One which does not situate all developments within a singular, chronological frame but rather investigates what other kinds of time such objects might reveal.

Curriculum vitae


PhD (1990-1995), University of Cambridge, England

BA Hons (1985-1988), Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, England


Since 2012

Professor in Archaeology, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Iceland


Lecturer in Archaeology, Department of History and Archaeology, University of Iceland


Assistant Director at the Institute of Archaeology in Reykjavik (Fornleifastofnun Íslands) 


Project Officer & Senior Researcher, Cambridge Archaeological Unit, University of Cambridge

Selected Publications

2021. Making Time: The Archaeology of Time Revisited. London: Routledge.

2021. With Laurent Olivier. Conversations About Time. London: Routledge.

2005. The Archaeology of Time. London: Routledge.

2022. "Archaeological Stratigraphy and the Bifurcation of Time: Solido intra solidum." Theory, Culture and Society 39(2):95-109.

2015. "Archaeology and Contemporaneity." Archaeological Dialogues 22(1): 1-15.