Alexandra Villing

Greek pottery and terracotta figurines

Department: Greece and Rome


+44 (0)20 7323 8365


Alexandra Villing is concerned mainly with ancient Greece and its culture. Her chief responsibility is looking after the collection of Greek pottery and terracotta figurines and leading a research project on the ancient site of Naukratis, a Greek-Egyptian trading city in the Nile Delta. She is also involved with other aspects of Greek material culture and the art and history of the Archaic and Classical periods in general.

Her interests include in the role of material culture in cross-cultural contact zones and in the construction of social identities; Greek pottery and its production, trade and consumption; the relations between Greece and Egypt and the Near East; religion and mythology; and iconography; and interdisciplinary collaboration between humanities and sciences.

She was the academic advisor for the British Museum’s Ancient Greece website, co-curated a cross-cultural, cross-period exhibition on Fantastic Creatures (shown in Korea and Hong Kong), and has long been involved in excavations in Turkey, at ancient Miletos and Knidos. Her most recent work includes research with Dr Michela Spataro on the social and technological aspects of Greek ‘coarse ware’ pottery. She is currently preparing publications on Archaic pottery from Miletos and on Greek-Egyptian relations at Naukratis and is co-supervising a student working on ancient Rhodes under the AHRC's Collaborative Doctoral Awards scheme.

Alexandra joined the British Museum in 2001 after having studied at Oxford and worked in Germany and Greece.

Current projects

Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt

Pottery bowls from Miletos

Previous projects

Fantastic Creatures from the British Museum, co-curated with V. Turner (Ulsan 2011 and Hong Kong 2012)

Ancient Civilisations: Ancient Greece website

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Trustee Egypt Exploration Society

British School at Athens Sparta Sub-Committee member

Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies Council member (2002-5)

Selected publications

A. Villing, M. Bergeron, G. Bourogiannis, A. Johnson, F. Leclère & R. Thomas, with D. von Recklinghausen, V. Smallwood, J. Spencer, V. Webb & S. Woodford, Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt (British Museum Online Research Catalogue, 2013-2019). Naukratis: Greeks in Egypt  

M. Spataro, H. Mommsen and A. Villing, ‘Making pottery in the Nile Delta: ceramic provenance and technology at Naukratis, 6th-3rd centuries BC’, Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 2018.

A. Villing and H. Mommsen, ‘Rhodes and Kos: East Dorian pottery production of the Archaic period’, Annual of the British School at Athens 112 (2017), 99-154.

A. Villing, ‘Don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg? Some thoughts on bird sacrifices in ancient Greece’, in S. Hitch and I. Rutherford (eds), Animal Sacrifice in the Ancient Greek World (Cambridge: CUP, 2017), 63-101.

A. Masson & A. Villing, ‘Egypt and Greece: early encounters’, in Masson, A. and Goddio, F. (eds), Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds (London: British Museum/Thames & Hudson, 2016), 22-27.

A. Villing & R.I. Thomas, ‘The mystery of Naukratis: revealing Egypt’s international gateway’, Current World Archaeology 77 (2016) 22-29.

M. Spataro & A. Villing (eds), Ceramics, Cuisine and Culture: The Archaeology and Science of Kitchen Pottery in the Ancient Mediterranean (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2015).

A. Villing & M. Spataro,‘ Investigating Ceramics, Cuisine and Culture – Past, Present and Future’, in Spataro and Villing 2015 (see above), 1-25.

A. Villing, ‘Egyptian-Greek exchange in the Late Period: the view from Nokradj-Naukratis’, in D. Robinson and F. Goddio (eds), Thonis-Heracleion in Context, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology Monograph 8 (Oxford, Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology), 229-246.

A. Villing, ‘Dangerous Perfection’ and an Old Puzzle Resolved: a ‘New’ Apulian Krater Inspired by Euripides’ Antiope’, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 57 (2014) 61-78.

A. Coulié & A. Villing, 'La céramique rhodienne à l’époque archaïque’, in A. Coulié and M. Filimonos (eds), Rhodes, une île grecque aux portes de l’Orient(Paris: Louvre), 118-121.

A. Villing, ‘Egypt as a ‘Market’ for Greek Pottery: Some Thoughts on Production, Consumption and Distribution in an Intercultural Environment’, in Pottery Markets in Ancient Greek World (8th-1st c. B.C.), Proceedings of the Symposion held at the Université libre de Bruxelles 19-21 June 2008, ed. A. Tsingarida and D. Viviers (Brussels: CReA-Patrimoine, 2013), 73-102

A. Villing & V. Turner, Fantastic Creatures from the British Museum (Hong Kong Museum of Art, 2012).

A. Villing & V. Turner, Fantastic Creatures (Ulsan Museum / Siwall Inc., 2011)

A. Villing, The Ancient Greeks: Their Lives and Their World (London: British Museum Press, 2010).

A. Villing & E. Pemberton ‘Corinthian Mortaria: Form and Function’, Hesperia 79 (2010) 555-638

R. Stacey, C. Cartwright, S. Tanimoto & A. Villing, ‘Coatings and contents: investigations of residues on some 6th century vessel sherds from Naukratis (Egypt)’, British Museum Technical Research Bulletin 4 (2010) 19-26.

S. Deacy & A. Villing, ‘What was the Colour of Athena’s Aegis?’, Journal of Hellenic Studies 128 (2009) 111-129

A. Villing, ‘Athena’, in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae Supplement 2009 (Düsseldorf: Artemis & Winkler, 2009) 107-123

A. Villing, ‘The Daily Grind of Ancient Greece: Mortars and Mortaria between Symbol and Reality”, in A. Tsingarida (ed.) Shapes and Uses of Greek Vases (7th-4th centuries B.C.) (Brussels: CReA-Patrimoine, 2009) 319-333

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

A. Villing, ‘A Wild Goose Chase? Geese and Goddesses in Classical Greece’, in D. Kurtz, et al. (eds), Essays in Classical Archaeology for Eleni Hatzivassiliou 1977-2007 (Oxford: Beazley Archive and Archaeopress, 2008) 171-180

A. Villing, (ed.) Naukratis: Greek Diversity in Egypt. Studies on East Greek pottery and exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. with U. Schlotzhauer (British Museum Research Publication 162; London: British Museum, 2006) [including articles on ‘Drab Bowls’ for Apollo: The Mortaria of Naukratis and Exchange in the Archaic Eastern Mediterranean’, pp. 31-46; ‘Naukratis and the Eastern Mediterranean: Past, Present and Future’, with U. Schlotzhauer, pp. 1-10; ‘East Greek Pottery from Naukratis: The Current State of Research’, with U. Schlotzhauer, pp. 53-68; ‘Carian Mercenaries at Naukratis?’, with D. Williams, pp. 47-48]

A. Villing, Classical Athens (London: British Museum Press, 2005)

A. Villing (ed.) The Greeks in the East (British Museum Research Publication 157; London: British Museum Press, 2005)

A. Villing, ‘For Whom did the Bell Toll in Ancient Greece? Archaic and Classical Greek Bells at Sparta and Beyond’, Annual of the British School at Athens 97 (2002), 223-295

A. Villing (ed) Athena in the Classical World, with S. Deacy (Leiden: Brill, 2001). [including the article ‘Athena Past and Present: An Introduction’ with S. Deacy, pp. 1-25]