Georges Kazan
DPhil (Oxon)

Research Associate, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford

+358 29 450 3494

+358 50 339 7840

Akatemiankatu 1


Office: 124

ORCID identifier:

Research Associate, School of Archaeology, University of Oxford


Areas of expertise
Relics in European Archaeology, History, Art & Culture, 100 B.C.E.- 1500 C.E; Late Roman & Byzantine Archaeology, History, Art & Culture, 300 – 1453 C.E.; Application of archaeological science research methodologies (AMS Radiocarbon, GC-MS, aDNA, CT et al.); public communication of research through mass media (tv, radio, press)

Finnish-based interdisciplinary researcher at UTU TIAS (Archaeology), with second affiliation at the University of Oxford (Director, Oxford Relics Cluster). Born in London, completing university studies at University of Oxford. Since completing my DPhil in 2011-2012,  collaborated with Prof. Thomas Higham, director of the University of Oxford's Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, to carry out a number of interdisciplinary studies on objects of cultural heritage, primarily medieval Christian relics, funded by research grants and major media (National Geographic, CNN), presenting the research to a global audience while running a retail business in London for four years. In January 2017, moved to Finland, after the University of Turku Institute for Advanced Studies offered me the opportunity to carry out my academic research full time.


 Relics as material evidence:
establishing a new, interdisciplinary field:   

My research seeks
to re-approach the study of the past through the direct study of objects,
primarily Christian relics. Thanks to recent advances in scientific analyses
(e.g. Ancient DNA, AMS radiocarbon dating), we can now access the data these
objects contain, allowing us to gaze back in time and rediscover lost historical
information. Unlike ordinary historical documents, this data is purely factual.
This work involves integrating historical, material and scientific evidence, as
well as managing extensive research collaborations to advance this field
through the development of research methodologies, ethical protocols and
databases. This requires interdisciplinary exploration, communication and
collaboration, within Finland and internationally.

Based at the
University’s Department of Archaeology, I am also taking part in the Turku
Cathedral Relics Project’s research on a number of their major relics.
Internationally, I am also pursuing research on these and other relics, in
particular those reputed to date to the 1st c., or from Late Roman or Byzantine
contexts. The aim in studying these is not primarily to prove their
authenticity, but to understand their origins, veneration and circulation.
Nevertheless, since it’s usually best to begin at the beginning, this involves
tracking down the oldest known examples, which can be very exciting!

My interactions
with TIAS colleagues have been extremely valuable, moving me to document and
study another form of direct data concerning these objects: public perceptions/reactions
and living memories/oral traditions surrounding heritage material. This can be obtained
from societies using surveys, interviews and social media feedback, and used to
develop specific research ethics for this subject. As part of this, I am
exploring and co-developing methods to preserve and present cultural heritage
in 3D and online, as well as to record and assess this information. To this
end, communication media are of key importance for enhancing public understanding,
accessibility and participation over the course of a project, and I am
therefore exploring the use of traditional, online and social media to permit the
capture and compare of public perceptions on a rolling basis. The social study
is being developed in collaboration with researchers from UTU departments of
Ethnology and Psychology, with international expert collaborators in Philosophy
and Ethics advising on the development of an ethics framework based on these
responses. The 3D work is being developed in collaboration with the UTU
Department of Archaeology and Turku City Museums; the online 3D database/social
interactivity concept in collaboration with the COIMBRA Group of Universities
Heritage Working Group;

In addition to
applying  archaeological science analyses that are currently
available in Turku and Finland (a project funded by the University of Turku
Foundation), I am also working to make available for the first time in Finland
new archaeological science analyses, such as ZooMS (identification of animal and plant species by Mass Spectrometry), in collaboration with the Prof. Matt Collins
(University of Cambridge), University of Turku Department of Archaeology, Turku
Institute for Advanced Studies, Turku Centre for Biotechnology (BioCity) and
the Turku Biochemistry Department of Biochemistry - Molecular
biotechnology and diagnostics (PharmaCity).

At Oxford, affiliated as an Honorary Research
Associate and Visiting Fellow, I am co-director of the Oxford Relics Cluster, a
platform for interdisciplinary discussion on relics, inviting expert speakers
to present their work on a termly basis. 

I am profoundly
grateful to TIAS for its support in allowing me to undertake the above
research, and for the benefits of working in such an international,
interdisciplinary environment, where new ideas and discoveries are always just
around the corner! 


Extensive academic lectures and public engagement primarily to university seminar and mixed audiences. 

Teaching interests:  Relics in European Archaeology, History, Art & Culture, 100 B.C.E.- 1500 C.E; Late Roman & Byzantine Archaeology; Application of archaeological science research methodologies (AMS Radiocarbon, GC-MS, aDNA, CT et al).

Experience: Lecture in S1 Master’s Course (Archaeology):
Scientific Methods (Relics), University of Turku; Co-Supervision of MSc (Archaeology) postgraduate student at the University of Oxford Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art.


Last updated on 2022-26-08 at 14:48