Professor Penelope Allison

Pim AllisonProfessor of Archaeology

Subject: Roman and Historical Archaeology

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2735


Personal details

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

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 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.


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 and recent projects



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)
  • Co-editor, Big Data on the Roman Table: New approaches to tablewares in the Roman world, theme volume of Internet Archaeology 50 (2018)
  • People and Space in Roman Military Bases. Cambridge University Press (2013). On-line companion
  • The Insula of the Menander in Pompeii III: The finds, a contextual study. Oxford: Clarendon Press, (2006). On-line companion
  • Pompeian households: analysis of the material culture, Monograph 42. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA (2004). On-line companion
  • Editor, Dealing with legacy data, themed volume of Internet Archaeology 24-25 (2008)
  • The archaeology of household activities. Routledge: London and New York (1999)

Journal articles

  • (co-author with K. Huntley and H. Friedman) Recovering the fragments of the Roman Colony of Libarna: Libarna Archaeological Project (LAP) Field Report, Season 1. The Journal of Fasti Online no. 415, Fasti Online Documents and Research - (2018)
  • 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

  • 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.

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

Topics for research student supervision

  • Household archaeology
  • Pompeian topics
  • 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

  • Daan van Helden, thesis topic: 'Exploring the limits of the archaeological study of identity'
  • Ruben Montoya, thesis topic: Villa décor, identity and self-representation in the 4th century Guadalquivir Valley (Hispania Ulterior Baetica)
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Alessandra Pegurrithesis topic: A City in Transition? Exploiting Common Wares to Question Socio-Cultural and Economic Change in Late Antique Rome
  • Zoe Tomlinson, thesis topic: Roman wall-paintings in the Midlands (2nd supervisor)
  • Mikel Herran Subinas, thesis topic: Gender, social change and religion: Islamicisation and the transforming lives of women in Early Medieval Iberia (2nd supervisor)
  • Victoria Szafara, thesis topic: ‘Paired’ Brooches in Roman Britain: Their Context and Distribution (2nd supervisor)


Past students

  • Dr Carla Brain, thesis topic: 'The place and role of deities in Pompeian households: A case study of Venus' (PhD awarded 2018)


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.

Share this page: