Valia Tsikritea, a Ph.D. candidate in the UC Department of Classics, has received the Archaeological Institute of America’s Harriet and Leon Pomerance Fellowship for the AY 2021-2022. The award supports her dissertation project, entitled "An Archaeology of Cult at Juktas, Crete: Early Iron Age Pottery and Figurines from the 'Tomb of Zeus,'" which is a study of the peak sanctuary on Mt. Juktas in the 12th-7th centuries BCE. Juktas, identified with the mythical locality of the burial place of Zeus in later tradition, was the peak sanctuary of the palace of Knossos in the Minoan period. While most scholarly interest has been directed to the Minoan period of the sanctuary, Tsikritea's dissertation examines changes in cult practices on the site across the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, revisiting questions on the character of Cretan religion in this period and situating developments at the sanctuary within their Cretan and Aegean sociopolitical context. The peak sanctuary of Juktas presents an ideal case study because, despite the decline of many peak sanctuaries in the period, it continued to be frequented without any interruption. She will investigate cult practices at the site through the study of unpublished assemblages of pottery and ceramic figurines, found in systematic excavations conducted in the 1970s and 1980s. During the Fall semester, she will use the award to fund her stay at Heraklion, where she will examine artifacts held in the storerooms of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, as well as at the Stratigraphical Museum of the BSA Research Center at Knossos.
Tsikritea is the fourth UC Classics graduate student in the last years to win this award.