Research interests


amphora dumpMy research has been wide-ranging in chronological and geographical terms, as well as in subject matter. There are strong unifying trends running through and I am essentially a specialist in the archaeology of the Roman empire, but have often worked on multi-period projects. I am an active field archaeologist and have organised projects in Britain, Italy, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan.

A significant component throughout my career to date has been the study of Roman Africa. My main contributions to the advancement of Roman Africa studies have been in terms of study of rural settlement, farming technology and the economy; urbanism and the urban economy; post-colonial approaches to the impact of Rome; the evolution of the Roman military frontiers and, latterly, the study of protohistoric native society beyond those frontiers in Libya and Morocco. I was a major author of the final reports on the UNESCO Libyan Valleys Survey and helped initiate work in 1990 at an important Tunisian harbour site called Leptiminus, leading to three published volume of reports.

site in the sandThe Fazzan Project in Libya (1997-2002) took me beyond the boundaries of the Roman empire to research the Saharan heartlands of an important people called the Garamantes. Four volumes arising from that work have been published. This Sahara work was continued as the Desert Migration Project the Peopling the Desert Project, the Ghadames Archaeological Survey and the Trans-Sahara Project. Since 2015, I have led a programme of similar work in  Morocco, again well south of the Roman frontier, tracing the early evolution of the oases of the Draa valley.

A second research strand developed from my Oxford-based post-doctoral research into olive cultivation in the Roman world and the production of olive oil and its trade. This has fed in to a recurrent interest in the Roman economy

A third area of research has been rural field survey, where I have published final reports on multi-period work near Rieti in Italy, in Libya and in Jordan (Wadi Faynan).

A further area is imperialism and I have written two books (one on Britain in the Roman empire and the other a set of essays on aspects of imperialism in the Roman world), where I have published explored new approaches to power and identity.

Finally, I also work on aspects of heritage management, in particular the current threats to the archaeology (portable and non-portable) of the Middle East and North Africa.

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