- Mediterranean prehistory
- Neolithic Greece
- Figurines and the human body as a symbol
- The "usable" past in modern society
- Early twentieth-century photography of the Mediterranean
Lauren Talalay's research focuses on two distinct and different aspects of material culture and the ancient world: 1) the symbolic uses of the human form in Neolithic Greece, and 2) the past as a commodity in modern society. Her studies of Neolithic Greece concentrate primarily on ways in which early cultures perceived the human body and how anthropomorphic figurines mediated sex, gender, and other identities. Her studies on the "usable" past as a commodity explore how ancient Greek, Roman, Near Eastern, and Egyptian images are employed in modern advertising and political cartoons. Additional projects include archaeological fieldwork on the island of Euboea (Greece), where she is involved in a survey of the southern tip of the island, and research on the largely unpublished photographs and writings of George R. Swain, a Michigan photographer who travelled throughout the Mediterranean from 1919-1926.