Professor Penelope Allison

Pim AllisonProfessor of 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; a Harold White Fellowship at the National Library of Australia and was a Lansdowne Visiting Speaker at the University of Victoria, Canada. 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 Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK); Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London; Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities; and Corresponding Member of the Archaeological Institute of America.


I teach in areas of Roman and historical archaeology and Classical art, focussing particularly on Roman Italy and Pompeii, Australian colonial archaeology, 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.


My research interests are household archaeology, gender and space, consumption approaches to artefacts.  I have published on Pompeian households, gender and space in Roman military and Australian household archaeology. My current research involves artificial intelligence and the digital recording and analyses of Roman ceramics.

Current and recent projects

Research student supervision

Topics for research student supervision

  • Household archaeology
  • Pompeian studies
  • Consumption approaches to Roman artefacts
  • Space and gender in archaeology
  • Roman art and archaeology

Learn more about studying for a PhD with us

Current research students (also see School list of research students)

  • Zoe Schofield (2021) Thesis topic: In Search of the Decorator: The Analysis of Roman Wall Decoration through the Study of Roman Decorative Borders in Herculaneum, Pompeii and Stabiae (2nd supervisor)
  • Federica Ciminelii (2020. part time). Thesis topic: Giuseppe Fiorelli’s excavations in Pompeii: a new perspective on his revolutionary approach
  • Mikel Herran Subinas (2019). Thesis topic: Gender, social change and religion: Islamicisation and the transforming lives of women in Early Medieval Iberia (2nd supervisor)
  • Victoria Szafara (2019). Thesis topic: ‘”Paired” Brooches in Roman Britain: Their Context and Distribution’
  • Alessandra Pegurri (2018). Thesis topic: ‘A City in Transition? Exploiting Common Wares to Question Socio-Cultural and Economic Change in Late Antique Rome’
  • Zoe Tomlinson, (2018, part time). Thesis topic: ‘A re-evaluation of Roman painted plaster in the East Midlands with particular reference to the Roman colour palette’ (2nd supervisor)
  • Christina Hernandez (2017, DL part time),  thesis topic: ‘Phenomenology of domestic space-vision, visibility, movement, and sensory experience of the home: private baths’
  • Matthew Selheimer (2016, DL part time). Thesis topic: Life at the Crossroads: How street intersections shaped Roman socio-spatial experience
  • Annable Lindsey. (2016). Thesis topic: The Reception and Appropriation of the Pompeian Domestic Space in the Time of the Grand Tour (2nd supervisor, Univ. of Nottingham - suspended)

Past students

  • Dr Tom Derrick Thesis topic: ‘The consumption and dissemination of Perfumed Products in Roman Britain’ (PhD awarded 2021)
  • Dr Ruben Montoya Thesis topic: ‘Becoming glocal: Glocalization and the study of villa pavements in Hispania Baetica (1st BC- AD 4th)’ (PhD awarded 2020)
  • Dr Daan van Helden Thesis topic: 'Exploring the limits of the archaeological study of identity' (PhD awarded 2020)



Who came to Tea

  • Who came to Tea at the Old Kinchega Homestead?: Tablewares, Teawares and Social Interaction at an Australian Outback Pastoral Homestead, Leicester Archaeology Monographs 25, BAR International Series 2964 (2020)

Journal articles

Book chapters

  • Roman household organization, in S. Crawford, D. M. Hadley and G. Shepherd, eds. The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Childhood, 165-178. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2018). ISBN 978-0-19-967069-7
  • Meals and the Roman military, in T. Ivleva, J. de Bruin, M. Driessen (eds), Embracing the Provinces: Society and Material Culture of the Roman Frontier Regions. Essays in honour of Dr.  Carol van Driel Murray. Oxford: Oxbow Books (2018), 103-110. ISBN 978-1-78925-015-2, E-book ISBN 978-1-78925-016-9
  • Naming tablewares: using the artefactual evidence to investigate eating and drinking practices across the Roman world, E. Minchin and H. Jackson  (eds) Festschrift for Graeme Clarke, SIMA - Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology, 186-198. Uppsala: Astrom editions (2017). ISBN 978-91-7081-219-4.
  • Everyday foodways and social connections in Pompeian houses, in L. Steel and K. Zinn, eds, Exploring the materiality of food “stuffs”: Transformations, symbolic consumption and embodiments, 152-186. London and New York: Routledge (Taylor and Francis, 2016). ISBN 978-1-138-94119-9
  • 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). ISBN: 978-1906566852.
  • 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). ISBN 978-1-4051-8767-1.

Papers in conference proceedings

  • Beyond von Petrikovits – artefact distribution and socio-spatial practices in the Roman military, in N. Hodgson, P. Bidwell and J. Schachtmann (eds) Limes XXI: Proceedins of the XXI International Congress of Roman Frontiers Sudies (Limes Congress), held at Newcastle Upon Tyne, in August, 2009, 9-15. Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 25. Oxford: Archaeopress (2017).
  • (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.

(Further publications listed on

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