Professor Penelope Allison

Penelope AllisonProfessor of Archaeology

Subject: Roman and Historical Archaeology

BA (Canterbury, NZ), MA Hons, PhD (Sydney), FSA, FAHA, SFHEA

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2735


Personal details


I grew up on a sheep farm in North Canterbury, New Zealand. My undergraduate degree was in Pure Mathematics from the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), and my MA Prelim, MA Honours, and PhD in Archaeology from the University of Sydney. I was a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome.

I have previously taught archaeology and ancient history at the University of Sydney, the Australian National University, and the University of Sheffield. I have held an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow and a U2000 Research Fellow at  Sydney University, and an Australian Research Council Queen Elizabeth II Fellow at the Australian National University. I have also held an Australian Bicentennial fellowship in the Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge; a visiting fellowship at St John's College, University of Durham; and a Harold White Fellowship at the National Library of Australia. I joined the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at Leicester in 2006 as a 'New Blood Lecturer', became a Reader in Archaeology and Ancient History in 2007, and Professor of Archaeology in 2015. I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities.



Journal articles

  • Characterising Roman artefacts for investigating gendered practices in contexts without sexed bodies, American Journal of Archaeology 119.1 (2015 - open-access 'Forum' article ) (DOI: 10.3764/aja.119.1.0103)
  • Conversations and material memories: insights into outback domestic life at the Old Kinchega Homestead, Historical Archaeology 48.1 (2014): 87-104.
  • Understanding Pompeian household practices through their material culture, FACTA: A Journal of Roman material culture studies 3 (2009): 11-32
  • Mapping for gender: interpreting artefact distribution in Roman military forts in Germany, Archaeological Dialogues 13.1 (2006): 1-48

Book chapters

  • Artefacts and people on the Roman frontier, in D. J. Breeze, R.H. Jones, and I. A. Oltean, eds, Understanding Roman frontiers: A celebration for Professor Bill Hanson, 121-134. Edinburgh: John MacDonald (2015).
  • Soldiers' families in the early Roman Empire, in B. Rawson, ed., Families in the Greek and Roman worlds: a companion, 161-182. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (2011)

Conference proceedings

  • (co-author Martin Sterry) "Family" meals? Who ate with whom and where in Roman military bases?, in Proceedings of the XXII Limes Congress, Ruse, Bulgaria Sept. 2012, (2015) 487-494.


My research interests focus on household archaeology and gender and space.  I have published extensively on houses and household in Pompeii and also on gender and space in Roman military forts in Germany. My current research has also involves households and household activities in colonial outback Australia and foodways material culture in the Roman and colonial worlds. I am also concerned with digital archaeology and the digital dissemination of archaeological data.

Current projects


I teach in areas of Roman and Classical art and archaeology, with a focus on Roman Italy and Pompeii, household archaeology, and approaches to text and material culture. I teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses to both campus-based students as well as distance-learning students.


  • Household archaeology
  • Pompeii; Roman art and archaeology
  • Consumption approaches to Roman artefacts
  • Space and gender in archaeology
  • Digital archaeology

Learn more about studying for a PhD with us

Current students

  • Frank Hargrave, thesis topic: 'Late Iron Age shrines and temples in Britain' (co-supervisor)
  • Carla Brain, thesis topic: 'The place and role of deities in Pompeian households: A case study of Venus'
  • Daan van Helden, thesis topic: 'Exploring the limits of the archaeological study of identity'
  • Tom Derrick, thesis topic: 'The Consumption and Dissemination of Perfumed Products in Roman Britain'
  • Ruben Montoya, thesis topic: Villa décor, identity and self-representation in the 4th century Guadalquivir Valley (Hispania Ulterior Baetica)
  • Annable Lindsey, thesis topic: The Reception and Appropriation of the Pompeian Domestic Space in the Time of the Grand Tour (2nd supervisor, Univ. of Nottingham)
  • Matthew Selheimer, thesis topic: Life at the Crossroads: How street intersections shaped Roman socio-spatial experience
  • Christina Hernandez,  thesis topic : Phenomenology of domestic space-vision, visibility, movement, and sensory experience of the home: private baths

Past students

  • Dr David Griffiths, thesis topic: 'The social and economic impact of artificial light in the Roman world' (PhD awarded 2016). Current post: Archaeological consultant
  • Dr Ian Marshman, thesis topic: 'Making your Mark in Britannia: the use of intaglios in the production, and presentation of identity under the Roman Empire' (PhD awarded 2016). Currently Education and Outreach Officer: The Collection Museum in Lincoln
  • Dr Laura Nicotra, thesis topic: 'The significance of decorative motifs in Roman relief sculpture, with specific reference to those from Trajan's Forum in Rome' (PhD awarded 2015). Currently working for the Archaeological Superintendency in Rome.
  • Dr Ahmad Emrage, thesis topic: 'Roman fortified farms and military sites in the region of the Wadi Al-Kuf, Cyrenaica' (co-supervisor, PhD awarded 2015)
  • Dr Melissa Edgar, thesis title: 'Beyond Typology: Later Iron Age brooches in northern France' (co-supervisor, PhD awarded 2012)
  • Dr Lisa Cougle, thesis title: 'Dress and social identity in mortuary context: the case of Iron Age Osteria dell'Osa' (Australian National University,  PhD awarded 2011).
  • Dr Andrew Birley, thesis title: 'The nature and significance of extramural settlement at Vindolanda and other selected sites' (co-supervisor, PhD awarded 2010). Currently position: Director of Excavations, Vindolanda Trust, Northumberland, UK.
  • Asst. Prof. Katherine Huntley, thesis title: 'Material culture approaches to children and childhood in the Roman world' (PhD awarded 2010). Current position: Asst. Professor in History, Boise State University, Idaho.
  • Dr Kim Owens, thesis title:'Farmers, Fishers and Whalemen: the Historical Archaeology of Lord Howe Island' (Australian National University, PhD awarded 2008, co-supervisor)
  • Asst. Prof. Steven Ellis, thesis title: 'The bars in Pompeii: an archaeological typology of functions, forms and space' (University of Sydney, PhD awarded 2005). Current position: Asst. Professor of Classics, University of Cincinnati.

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