Current PhD Research Topics

The list of entries below shows the large range of topics supervised. Feel free to contact students about their work and individual staff members about supervision topics.

(key for entries below: CB = Campus-Based, DL = Distance Learning. GTA = Graduate Teaching Assistant)


Thesis Title and Abstract

Muna Abdelhamed

(Supervisors David Mattingly and Graham Shipley)








Economic life in Cyrenaica (Eastern modern Libya) during the Greek and Roman periods (c. 631 BC to the late fifth century AD) through classical sources, inscriptions and other archaeological evidence.

The main questions of this project are: what were the economic mainstays of the Cyrenaican region in antiquity? How did the exploitation of these resources changed over time? In relation to the region’s agricultural potential to what extent was production directed at both internal and external markets and in what periods did it flourish and when did it decline? When was the camel first present in the region and to what extent did its use affects the internal trade across the Sahara, especially with Fezzan? Did the local tribes and Jews make noticeable economic contributions? Were the region’s harvest seasons affected by different physical geographical aspects? Is it possible to make quantitative as well as qualitative statement about the economic conditions of Cyrenaica? Furthermore, this project aims to indicate to what extent the textual accounts and archaeological evidence provide us with similar information about economic activities in the province under question? Do the available data from ancient literary sources, epigraphy and archaeology equally represent the economy of Cyrenaica during the Greek and Roman period? To what extent can new inscriptions that will be studied in this project for the first time, contribute to the current knowledge on the Cyrenaican economy?

Mohamed Omar M Abdrbba

(Supervisors David Mattingly and Jeremy Taylor)






Outside the walls: The Suburban zone of Cyrene from the Greek until the late Roman era.

The overall aim of this thesis is to highlight the nature of the suburbs in ancient Greco-Roman cities of Cyrenaica by studying the suburban activity and function of the various buildings and other structures outside the limits of the urban core. Furthermore, it attempts to identify and interpret the physical remains of ancient buildings in order to figure out their economic, religious, political and social purposes, and their relationship to each other and with the surrounding environment, as well as, their relationship with the urban core.

In order to achieve the aims of the study, I shall carry out a combination of extensive and intensive archaeological, topographical and landscape survey in the suburban zone of the ancient city of Cyrene to search for evidence of range of activities and to record as many as possible of ancient physical sites scattered outside the city walls. In addition, I shall assess the density of pottery sherds and any other materials observed on the surface in some selected sample areas of Cyrene suburbs in order to draw an overview on different economic activities and monument types situated in the urban periphery of the city. My study thus combines qualitative and quantitative data about the location and general character of the sites located in the suburban zone of Cyrene.

Jane Ainsworth

(Supervisors Sarah Scott and Graham Shipley)




Herakles on the Edge.  How do objects depicting the figure of Herakles inform our understanding of artistic choices during the expansion of the Roman Empire?

The figure of Herakles/ Hercules is found across the Roman Empire, but on different forms of object and with a variety of stylistic representations and choices of subject matter. My research seeks to investigate objects on which Herakles/ Hercules was represented from different areas on the edge of the Roman Empire at the time of Rome’s take-over. By considering how a figure on the edge of human and divine status was depicted on objects created, commissioned and purchased by individuals on the edge of the Roman Empire, the study aims to shed light on the different cultural identities this choice of object, style and subject matter represents. The investigation of these choices, and the identities they reveal through detailed, contextualising case studies, can show how the lives of individuals were affected on an everyday level by Rome’s conquest and the success or otherwise of elements of the process of conquest.

Graham Aldred

(Supervisors Neil Christie and Mark Gillings)






Worth their place? A multi-disciplinary study of the social and political significance of particular places in Anglo-Saxon Mercia

I am researching Anglo-Saxon settlements incorporating the name element worth, primarily in Mercia. These places seem to survive at a proportionally higher level than other settlement names.

They appear to cluster near the junctions of major historic and prehistoric boundaries, or on strategic places on long distance routeways. Given the importance of naming in the Anglo-Saxon world, my research aims to uncover the particular meaning of worth and why it is frequently associated with personal names.
Elements of village morphology might provide clues to the nature of the original settlement. Evidence remaining in the wider landscape may indicate the significance of place. I plan to deploy a range of methods, most notably in exploring linguistic and archaeological evidence to determine site and name origins, roles and growth; furthermore I will use GIS and direct survey to examine the detailed relationships between the places and their natural and human landscapes.

The ultimate aim is to uncover the true Mercian meaning of the term worth, the nature and perhaps function of the settlements.

Emily Banfield

(Supervisors Richard Thomas and Oliver Harris)









Animals and ontologies: addressing the role and meaning of faunal remains in the Neolithic long barrows of Wessex

Neolithic long barrows are amongst the earliest monumental structures to survive in the British archaeological record and have been the subject of archaeological and antiquarian interest for over 200 years.  Although concentrated in the Wessex region, examples can be found across Britain and Wales. Recent re-examination of Neolithic long barrow deposits in the Wessex region have begun to transform understanding of these structures and the period as a whole, although with one exception, the focus has remained anthropocentric. Animal bones from long barrows are still widely interpreted as either offerings, or resultant of consumption associated with the interment of human remains. The unquestioned attribution of animals to a secondary position is surprising considering the impact of domestication upon human/animal relationships. This study seeks to understand the roles and meaning of animals in long barrow deposits through analysis of the faunal composition of assemblages and the treatment of remains.  Comparisons will be made with assemblages from different site types from the same period. Consideration will be accorded to the nature of deposits, and the biographies and behaviours of the animals included.  Ethnographic material will inform interpretation, enabling the development of ideas to explain the character of human/animal relationships being expressed and the role of the animal in the creation of human identity.

My research has been funded by the AHRC and Midlands3Cities.

Jennifer Beamer

(Supervisors Supervisors Mary Harlow and Jeremy Taylor)

Assessing Textile Tools within Prehistoric Britain to Consider the Social Significance of Textile Production and the (Re)Creation of Gender

There has been a disconnect between textile studies and archaeology, and though recent bodies of works exist which endeavor to rectify this gap, few researchers have applied this connection of ideas to British prehistory specifically. Therefore, I am researching textile-production during the British Iron Age and collating textile related tools into a database to aid my research. Ultimately, this database will raise awareness regarding archiving practices in British archaeology, typologize tool data, and confirm what textile-production was actually like during the British Iron Age. This marks the first time that such a database has been created regarding Iron Age material from Britain, and its impact could develop new paradigms for collecting textile-tool data, allowing for longevity of the overall project.


Following the creation of this database, my research will pursue further lines of inquiry into the social role of textile-production, including its impact on the creation and recreation of gender, identity, personhood, and spatiality. Without a meticulous and even consideration of the archaeological record, such roles will be perpetuated into other forms of interpretation, as in the gendering of textile-production spaces in the British Iron Age. Additionally, ethnographic and experimental work will enhance my understanding of textile-production in Iron Age Britain and serve as a guiding path throughout my years as a research student.

Lauren Bellis

(Supervisors Richard Thomas and Naomi Sykes ((Nottingham))






A Dog’s Life: An Interdisciplinary Study of Changing Human-Animal Relationships in Roman Britain

My research investigates the impact of the Roman Empire on relationships between people and dogs within Britain. The Roman annexation is linked with a greater diversity of dog types, particularly very small 'toy' dogs; these changes may have been accompanied by new attitudes towards dogs within Britain. If so, this may indicate developments in how people perceived the natural world or even treated other humans, as links between animal and human abuse have been found in the present day.

It is possible that influence was not uniform, but varied between different social groups in Britain. Building on my MA research, which indicated significant differences in dog welfare between urban and rural sites across Roman Britain, my work will examine the variation in relationships across social groups, geographic locations and time during the Roman occupation. Remains of dogs, stable isotope analysis and textual sources and artwork will be used. Given their importance in Roman society and close proximity to humans, the ways in which dogs influenced people and Romano-British society will be considered throughout the project.

Rupert Birtwistle

(Supervisors Terry Hopkinson and Huw Barton)











Technology, ecology and cultural variability of hominin populations during the Lower - Middle Palaeolithic transition in the Republic of Azerbaijan

This thesis focuses on the factors influencing the Lower-Middle Palaeolithic transition in the Republic of Azerbaijan and aims to provide clarity to our understanding of what defines this transition; whilst compiling the first comprehensive assessment of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic archaeology from the country. The disappearance of the handaxe and subsequent appearance of Levallois technology ca. 300-200kya is commonly used to define the Lower-Middle Palaeolithic boundary. Given the long period of stasis that precedes this event such innovations have profound implications that stretch beyond lithic technologies themselves, including hominin behaviour and cognition. However this pattern is not observed globally and differs both in technology and chronology between regions. In parts of East Africa both Lower and Middle Palaeolithic industries appear to coexist for around 200,000 years where as in parts of Central Europe there appears to be no transition at all. In the Caucasus it is believed a stark and rapid transition occurs over about 10,000 years. The Caucasian Republic of Azerbaijan is positioned within a geographic corridor that has been exploited by human groups for 1.8 million years and acts as a migratory route for dispersing hominins. Work in other parts of the Caucasus has revealed information detailing shifts in technology during this transition that could be explained by either population replacements or behavioural changes of hominin groups in the landscape. Thus far Azerbaijan has been overlooked by researches, therefore collating this additional evidence may be crucial in answering critical research questions in hominin subsistence, behaviour, dispersals and the transformation of ideas between populations during the Lower – Middle Palaeolithic transition.

Korakot Boonlop

 (Supervisors Huw Barton and Jo Appleby)












The association between dental caries prevalence and the emergence of agriculture in the ancient population during pre and post agricultural period in Thailand

In Thailand, specifically, although palaeopathological research – including dental caries and related oral diseases, has long been systematically studied in various aspects, the association between dental caries and the adoption of agriculture, is quite new and the knowledge of this issue is still very rare.  Only three prehistoric human skeletal series from the following sites : Khok Phanom Di (Neolithic, 2000-1500 BC), Ban Lum Khao (Bronze Age, 1000-500 BC), and Noen U-Loke (300 BC – AD 300), were studied in order to understand such relation, whereas there are hundreds of sites that produce several dental remains series with approximately at least 2,000 individuals.  In fact, it is generally accepted that the emergence of agriculture is the transition which has long been recognised to be a very important period and resulted in various impacts on prehistoric human populations diet and health. Although mainland Southeast Asia - including Thailand, has long been archaeologically considered as one of the most diverse areas which provides the considerable evidence of agricultural origins, the number of bioarchaeological research on the relation between agriculture and dental caries is very small by comparing to the other parts of the world. This leads to a lack of comprehensive understanding in such association as mentioned earlier. The main question of this project is whether there is the positive pattern of the association between dental caries prevalence and the emergence of agriculture in Thailand trough a chronological sequence from pre to post agricultural period. So this research will mainly focus on dental caries prevalence on the basis of standard recording and scoring systems to quantify the individual carious lesions for each human skeletal sample series. The interpretation and implication of such prevalence will be applied to achieve a further understanding of its statistical data, magnitude and meaning, especially in terms of the relation between dietary change and the pattern of dental caries frequency through different time scales from pre to post agricultural periods. A correlation between such association and technological as well as socio-cultural contexts will be additionally addressed.

Carla Brain

(Supervisors Penelope Allison and David Edwards)

The place and role of deities in Pompeian households: A case study of Venus

Venus was the patron deity of Pompeii, yet there is a lack of in-depth research into where she was depicted within the house and why. My thesis focuses on the iconography of Venus in the wall-paintings of Pompeii, through the research and analysis of different iconographical types (e.g. Venus Pompeiana, Venus Pescatrice) and also the types of scene she is depicted within (e.g. the judgement of Paris, the love of Venus and Mars). It debates whether these different iconographical types of depiction of Venus, or types of scene, had any correlation with room type/function, and whether the different iconographical Venus types, or types of scene, had any relationship with where she was depicted within a room. The second half of my thesis puts these images into their wider context, within the house, using five houses as case studies. These five houses will be analysed in terms of both their wall-paintings and material culture. The presence of other deities in the house will also be analysed in these five houses to put the images of Venus into context.

Ahmed M. Buzaian

(Supervisors David Mattingly and Daniel Stewart)




Olive presses and oil production in Cyrenaica (North East Libya)

Although a great deal of information is now available on ancient olive oil production in North Africa, Cyrenaican press technology is poorly represented in the literature and has not has been fully integrated into our understanding of the pressing technologies employed in Roman Africa. This is important because Cyrenaica was linked geographically, culturally and perhaps technologically with the East Mediterranean. The main aim of my research is therefore to identify and characterise Cyrenaican presses, and establish the role Cyrenaican olive oil production played in the economy of North Africa and the Mediterranean during the mid to late Roman periods.

Whilst the main focus of my research has been to identify the technical characteristics of ancient olive mills and presses in Cyrenaica. I also investigate and address two other relevant issues:

  • How can oil and wine production be recognised from the archaeological evidence?
  • How did Cyrenaican pressing technology differ from that used in other North African countries and the Greek world?

An attempt will also be made to estimate the output of oil production from late Roman Cyrenaica and determine whether olive oil was produced solely for domestic consumption or whether there was a surplus intended for overseas marketing.

This research will, for perhaps the first time, investigate the archaeological evidence for olive oil production in Cyrenaica, in terms of both technology and output, and will attempt to establish the importance of the industry for the Cyrenaican economy. To address the research questions, archaeological evidence has been collected during a recent, extensive field survey, with data gathered from some 110 sites, across a wide geographical area. Many of the sites were hitherto unrecorded.

Integrating the collected data into the literature concerning ancient olive oil and wine pressing technologies provides a fuller and more representative understanding of ancient mechanical technology and permits a reassessment of the relative importance and efficiency of screw and windlass technologies in the ancient world.

Matteo Cantisani

(Supervisors Oliver Harris and Mark Pearce (Nottingham))












Re-evaluating cultural change in Bronze Age Italy: materiality, interactions and identities in Sicily, c. 2000-1500 B.C.

Studies of Aegean influences in Bronze Age Sicilian groups are copious but understanding cultural change both as a consequence of, and independently of them is crucial for a thorough assessment of the social complexity in such a boundary context. Recent studies have only superficially explored local identities as clusters of typologically homogeneous artefacts. My analysis of the technological choices embedded in the chaine operatoire of EBA southern Sicilian ceramic productions will offer scope to explore the formation of such materiality in terms of cognitive aspects, technical practices and community of practices.

Were these ‘traditions’ able to produce, transmit and reproduce technical knowledge independently of external influences? To what extent did local interactions trigger innovative behaviours potentially affecting cultural changes? How did these communities create and shape their own worlds?

My work to-date has involved the study of 800 potsherds from the Bronze Age site of Pantelleria alongside its settlement development, plus petrographic analysis of 30 samples. I identified two fabric groups which differ in composition, technical properties, and use: one was used in shaping cooking pots, in fine tableware the other (Cantisani 2016). These preliminary results show the investigation of contexts of large, well-interconnected communities can provide optimal resolution for detecting technological choices as embedded in transferable knowledge packages.

Extending this procedure to pots from comparable Sicilian sites, alongside analysis of their spatial organization and sampling of nearby clay sources, will enable me to question patterns of local networks of technological transfer between groups during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages.

My scientific research will impact strongly on current understanding of the socio-cultural changes and significance of acculturation in boundary contexts by proposing a timely re-evaluation of culture change in Sicily. Besides, I will offer a methodological framework applicable by other scholars to comparable contexts across the Mediterranean, where issues of endogenous development and acculturation are being debated.

David Cardona

(Supervisors Sarah Scott and Neil Christie)






Landscapes of death and commemoration: burial space, place and evolution from Phoenician to late Roman Malta

Malta is strewn with rock-cut, underground burials dug and used for approximately a thousand years during the Islands’ occupation by Phoenician, Punic, Roman and Byzantine powers. These have been the pillar of various studies but none have managed to look at the data from tombs of different periods on Malta in a holistic manner. This has resulted in the different periods of sepulchral archaeology being studied in almost complete isolation from one another. My doctoral research aims to interrogate the structures and their settings from a series of aspects: 1. what can we understand of internal and long-term evolutions; 2. what continuities and what changes can be traced in burial form and location; 3. what can we learn of ritual within and outside the burial structures; 4. I will examine how far burials can be related to settlement sites, and how settlement-burial relationships evolved; 5. To what degree does the material culture surviving from the tombs help identify these relationships and the people who used/frequented these burial sites.  In addition, a distinctive feature of some Maltese rock-cut tombs is their presence within former quarries: I will thus also explore the connections between quarries and tombs in terms of space, access, technology and workers – for example, might the quarry-workers also have been the tomb-cutters? Indeed, this thesis will aim overall to uncover more about the people for whom these tombs were focal points.

Bianca Cardoso

(Supervisors Naoise Mac Sweeney and Joanna Appleby)



A Bank of Bones: Mortuary practices and ethnicity in Hellenistic Anatolia

Central Anatolia was a multi-cultural place during the Hellenistic period, with indigenous Anatolians, neighbouring Greeks, and people recently arrived from continental Europe known as ‘Celts’ all living alongside each other. But how far was there mixing between the populations, and how far did they maintain separate traditions and cultural practices? This dissertation will answer this question by focusing on mortuary practices, and the use of funerary material as an ideological ‘bank’ by which communities could negotiate their ancestral claims and construct their identities.

Philip Carstairs

(Supervisors Sarah Tarlow and Elizabeth Hurren)



A generous helping? The archaeology of soup kitchens and their role in post-medieval philanthropy 1660-1914.

I am studying soup kitchens in the post-medieval period. These charitable institutions appear in large numbers during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. During times of severe hardship for the poor, each one provided several thousand meals daily, financed by subscriptions from the better off. At the time state-funded welfare was limited, consisting of “outdoor relief” or the workhouse. Soup kitchen buildings varied from small sheds to large ornate buildings of several stories. The buildings used by these charities, the technology for cooking and the food served can be used to explore how these institutions mediated between the rich and poor, the giver of charity and its recipient and how the food is used. The study will consider the influence of ethnicity, religion, immigration and changing philosophies of charity on the material culture and will incorporate evidence from Britain, continental Europe and North America.

Joshua Charles

(Supervisors Alice Samson and Mary Harlow)



Stylising the Colonial Frontier: Clothing and Identity in British West Florida

In February 1763 representatives of Spain, France and Britain signed a peace treaty to end the Seven Years’ War. From France Britain gained territory east of the Mississippi with the exception of New Orleans, and La Florida was acquired from Spain. Land between the Mississippi River and the Apalachicola River became West Florida, though in reality colonial authority did not extend far beyond the Gulf Coast. Pensacola, West Florida’s capital, quickly recognised the importance of peaceful relations with the Chickasaw, Choctaw and Muscogulge (Creek) nations to the north and east. New settlers came on the promised potential of a plantation economy modelled after those in South Carolina and Georgia. Black freedom became only a remote possibility and although a small number were free they were restricted by codes based on South Carolina. British West Florida was socially and economically part of the Caribbean, and as a colony embodied a microcosm of British America.

Textiles were major consumption goods shared by all people of different ethnic and racial decent, by definition clothing strategies built identity from the skin outward. Among others, texture, quality, colour and pattern can denote personal or collective style, wealth and status, autonomy or conformity or even subordination. Contextualised clothing can substantively inform questions about cultural significance and the construction of identity. Appearance provides not only the consumption of material goods but also an opportunity to investigate how they were perceived, especially at a time when a growing global market brought new fabrics, buttons, beads and shirts to the eighteenth century consumer.

The aim of my research is to investigate material choice (clothing) in an effort to assess how peoples in British West Florida expressed identity through dress. Secondly I will explore how material choices were perceived in a shifting landscape. Finally I will attempt to assess my findings through the social upheaval of the American Revolution to better explore the perception of identity through clothing.

Michaels Curtis

(Supervisors Simon James and Janie Masseglia)



The Maritime Cultural Landscape of Crete during the Hellenistic and Roman periods (330 B.C.E – 425 C.E.)

My PhD research project uses the theoretical framework of the Maritime Cultural Landscape in the study of the coastal settlements of Crete during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. During these periods the Cretan harbours fulfilled an important role in the economic, political and cultural life of the island. They were busy places with the daily hustle and bustle of ships and people coming and going. These were places where new products first made landfall and were seen in the marketplaces, where immigrants arrived, where sailors rested and changed ships, and where people first heard the news from other countries. There was also a human side to the harbour towns as this is where people lived, ran their businesses, worshipped their gods and participated in leisure activities. In the pursuit of this they made changes and developed the landscape around them. The evidence of this survives in the archaeological, epigraphical, numismatic and historical record and I am using my own adaptation of Westerdahl’s Maritime Cultural Landscape framework to identify and look more closely at the components that made up the coastal landscape. My research studies the development and changes that took place in the settlements and their functions over time and looks to see if there was distinctive maritime culture during these periods.

This is a new approach in the research of the Cretan coastal settlements and is based on existing archived and published material. I hope that the results of this research will form the basis for future investigative and survey work on the island.

Katie Davenport-Mackey

(Supervisors Terry Hopkinson and Oliver Harris)

Making and Using Cheddar Points: Their implications for Late Upper Palaeolithic Britain

The aim of my research is to examine the role of Creswellian and Cheddar points in expressing an embedded social vision, unifying the hunters of Britain and differentiating them from possibly related hunter-gathers on the European mainland. It seeks to examine the boundaries between social networks, specifically looking at intergroup relations between Britain and northwest Europe. Cheddar points in Britain plus European assemblages with Creswellian affinities will be examined using the concept of the chaine operatoire, with the specific aim of understanding morphological variability but also to embed lithic technology into wider aspects of human behaviour and organization.

Thomas J. Derrick

(Supervisors Penelope Allison and Mary Harlow)







The socio-cultural implications of the consumption of unguentaria and their contents in Roman Britain

The main purpose of my research is to investigate the archaeological evidence for the consumption and cultural appropriation of perfumed preparations (unguenta) and medicines/cosmetics (medicamenta) by the various cultural groups in Roman Britain. The main source of evidence will be contextualised corpora of small glass bottles (often termed ‘unguentaria’), which have a wide distribution within areas subject to Roman cultural influence. The British vessels are widely published but have not been interpreted holistically. I will be analysing the spatial and chronological context of these ‘unguentaria’ and comparing my findings on an inter-site basis to understand how these vessels were used at different types of sites and in different areas of the country. I will be comparing assemblages from the south-east of England (roughly modern Essex and Hertfordshire) with those from north-eastern England (southern Northumberland to North Yorkshire, and the counties between), in order to investigate questions of cultural exposure to Roman material culture and corporeal regimes. Furthermore, I wish to examine the potential role which different communities, including the military, had in the adoption of unguentaria and their contents into British corporeal regimes, and the socio-cultural implications of this engagement.

Chris Doherty

(Supervisors Mark Gillings and Ruth Young)


Living with clay: materials, technology, resources and landscape at Çatalhöyük

The thesis asks, "to what extent was clay involved in the successful development of Neolithic Çatalhöyük?". Choosing to settle at this location meant a heavy reliance on clay, both as a raw material and because of its direct influence on land-use potential around the site. Yet the rise of this large early agricultural community with its rich and largely clay-based material culture testifies that living with clay was highly successful. This thesis argues that complex and dynamic interactions developed between the tell and the immediate clay-scape, linking material culture and environment. Only by exploring these interactions is it possible to move beyond existing clay artifact studies, to fully understand the role of this seemingly mundane yet highly influential material at Çatalhöyük.

Claudia Eicher

(Supervisors Neil Christie and Deirdre O'Sullivan)

Religious Transition in the Late Antique Countryside: Agency, Identity, and Change in a Gallic Province

There is little engagement with theory in the archaeology of early Christianity. Identity is being discussed to a certain degree, but issues such as agency tend to be ignored. In the first part of my research project I will explore whether theories of agency and psychological theories of mind offer possibilities for understanding how religious identities are adapted, negotiated, and represented. In the second part of my project I will apply the theory and try to identify the relevant contexts for religious identity renegotiation as well as the heterogeneity of responses to the Christian religion in the late antique countryside of the Gallic diocese of Lugdunensis Senonia.

Richard Evans

(Supervisors Graham Shipley and Stephen Hodginson)












A Most Dangerous Place: Inter-State Political Violence Directed Against the Polis

Throughout the history of the Greek poleis (city-states), armed conflict posed a serious threat to the residents of warring poleis. Due to the political actions of their own polis, other poleis or foreign powers (e.g., Persians, Macedonians, Romans, etc.,), a polis’ population could find themselves caught up in a conflict that could result in financial losses, civil war, enslavement or even massacre.

Those who suffered these misfortunes, who we would deem non-combatants by today’s standards, are the primary focus of this thesis. Consequently, determining whom, by the Greek’s own standards, counted as a non-combatant is interrogated within the thesis’ first half. Through examining Greek inter-state customary law, actual practice and ethical expectations, my aim is to construct a workable definition of Greek non-combatant’s, thereby clearly outlining who were expected, by Greek standards, to be exempt from conflict and its consequences. This research will provide an important framework for the thesis’ latter-half.

In establishing Greek non-combatant status, the thesis moves onto its larger second-half, which concerns itself with the study of inter-state violence against poleis communities and the varying ways this could affect them. The chapters are arranged thematically, focusing on the subject of coercive violence (threats and acts of terroristic violence) and destructive violence (economic damage, sieges, ethnic cleansing and genocide). Both chapters will follow a similar thread of examination, querying how such concepts of violence were used and applied within the Greek world, while also attempting to understand why particular forms of violence were chosen to be used against civic targets.

Within the concluding argument, I aim to bring the thesis’ two sections together to explain as to how civic directed violence rose throughout the history of the polis, becoming a major political strategy by the late classical and Hellenistic period. I shall also provide reasoning as to why such violence was central to the development of the polis itself, especially from a security standpoint. In doing so, this thesis will provide a unique insight into ancient Greek inter-state politics and on the concept of the Greek polis.

Glen Farrugia

(Supervisors Neil Christie and Jo Appleby)










The presentation of Early-Christian heritage in Malta: past, present and future

Important archaeological studies on the Late Roman and Byzantine Hypogea of the Maltese Islands have been conducted since the early 19th century. This archaeological endeavour yielded significant information on the distribution, decoration, and dating of these sites, as well as on the different religions present on the Island during the 3rd to the 7th century AD. It seems, however, that for the scholars who pioneered the study of the catacombs ‘absence of evidence’ was the same as ‘evidence of absence’ and, little importance was given to the interpretation and presentation of these sites. This research aims to shed more light on other aspects which were completely neglected and which might help to acquire greater knowledge on this subject. Furthermore, this research asks how different (new and traditional) approaches in the various sub-fields of archaeology, can help in the interpretation as well as in the public presentation of these sites. A central component of this thesis will be dedicated to archaeological tourism in Malta and a questioning of the ‘reception’ of catacombs and related sites. To whom and in what ways is the Maltese Archaeological Heritage being presented? What can be done in order to improve the Cultural Heritage experience of those tourists who visit Malta and explore its archaeology either as casual visitors or academically curious? Alongside this it is essential to understand local/native ‘reception’ of the heritage as they too are ‘stakeholders’ in this past. A multidisciplinary and holistic approach will be employed in order to evaluate the present situation of the Maltese Archaeological Heritage and discuss the way forward for a possible self-sustaining Archaeological Heritage.

Roberta Ferrante

(Supervisors Neil Christie and Simon James)






An Architectural and Social Archaeology of Roman Baths and Bathing in Eastern Sicily: The Public and Private Thermae of Catania in Context

My research will be a comparative study of the many Roman thermal structures and private baths in Catania built over a period ranging from the first to the fourth century AD: I will explore not just their original forms and designs, but also consider the final phases of the complexes, and their post-abandonment archaeologies (e.g. burials, reuse of materials as quarries, church imposition, etc.). My methodology includes primary source assessment, study of archive data (on sites, town plans) and archaeological data, and analysis of the most recent secondary literature, plus study of the remnant architectural traces. I aim to frame and contextualize these structures and determine how they fit into a wider social, urban and suburban landscape of Roman and late antique Catania. How was the water supplied to these and the town – by aqueducts, cisterns, tanks? Finally, my study will compare the Catanian material with urban baths elsewhere in Eastern Sicily and seek to determine the key stages in their evolution from the Greek to the Byzantine period. I will question in this whether the high number of baths in Catania is typical of Sicilian towns.

Alison Foster

(Supervisors: Dr Richard Thomas and Professor Marijke van der Veen)












An exploration of the identifiability of chicken breeds in the archaeological record.

The domestic chicken is the most numerous and widely established livestock species on the planet. Over millennia, the processes of domestication and selection have produced a wide variety of changes in size and body shape resulting in hundreds of chicken breeds worldwide. It is likely that selection for favourable characteristics in domestic fowl has been occurring from at least Roman times; for example, chickens with five toes were recommended by 1st century agronomists Columella and Varro. Although numerous detailed narratives focusing upon poultry husbandry survive from the early-modern period, the history of chicken breed development and the relationship between ancient antecedents and contemporary populations is poorly understood.

Previous work has shown that diagnostic features on some skeletal elements, particularly tarsometatarsi and skulls, can be useful for identifying traits such as polydactyly, the creeper gene and cerebral hernia, indicating the presence of chickens which may have been the progenitors of five-toed Dorkings, short-legged Scots Dumpies and crested Polands. Recent analysis of chicken-bone measurements has identified major changes in size during the medieval and post-medieval periods (Thomas et al. 2013). However, disentangling size from shape using traditional osteometrics is challenging. My research will develop methodologies to enable an exploration of whether chicken breeds can be further identified in the archaeological record using geometric morphometrics. This technique offers a new approach by identifying subtle variations in bone shape that could potentially be used to characterise skeletal morphotypes associated with different breeds. It is hoped that this will increase understanding of social and economic pressures driving selection and breed development in this often overlooked species. This project is funded by the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities and associated with the AHRC-funded “Cultural and Scientific Perceptions of Human-Chicken Interactions”.

Panagiotis Georgopoulos

(Supervisors Naoise Mac Sweeney and Andrew Merrills)






Ethnic Identity in the Ancient Greek Colonies in Sicily and Asia Minor (8th-6th century BC): Interpretation and Heritage

This research seeks to understand how modern scholarship has approached identity and ethnicity in the Greek ‘colonies’ of Asia Minor and Sicily during the 8th -6th centuries BC. It aims to highlight the reasons that modern discourses may characterize these identities differently, while understanding the ways this effected heritage treatment in both regions through specific case studies. Focusing on the modern historiographical trends that dominated the interpretation of ancient Greek colonies in Sicily and Western Turkey from about 1920s onwards - often feeding political rhetoric - this work will include a detailed discussion of the progress has been made so far in the field of identity and archaeological theory. It also aims to present the different ways scholars from the 1920s until the present day have constructed, enriched or questioned ethnic identity in the ancient Greek colonies of Sicily and Western Asia Minor during the 8th-6th centuries BC. Applying a comparative analysis of historiographical trends in Greek, Turkish, Italian, English, French and German scholarly writing relating to the two regions, it will compare interpretations and scholarships from different national scholarly traditions as well as about different geographic areas.

Jeanette Gimmerstam

(Supervisors Sarah Scott and Huw Barton)


Wiki on the Rocks- A study of the western globalization progress of knowledge within archaeology

This is an epistemological study of Wikipedia articles about Petroglyphs at World Heritage sites, in the context of an examination of how knowledge about archaeology is disseminated in the digital sphere and how it is received and developed by the user. I aim to investigate how interpretations of petroglyphs are processed and created on Wikipedia, looking in particular at the relationship between traditional and new media; the research will examine the extent to which digital media like Wikipedia give people the opportunity to create new ways to perceive the past and to participate in the development of knowledge production about cultural heritage – something which is currently heavily dominated by western interests.  The research will focus on who claims the right to interpret the past, using Foucault’s theories about knowledge and power within different scientific discourses, in order to identify and explain patterns of influence and to investigate if Wikipedia lives up to its fundamental ideas about openness. Finally, the thesis will ask what impact such Wikipedia entries might have on our understanding of petroglyphs and their world heritage sites and on their presentation and preservation.

Maria Giuseppina Gradoli

(Supervisors Mark Gillings and Neil Christie)












Dynamic Social Changes and Identity: A Petrological Study of Bronze Age Ceramics in Nuragic Sardinia

My research focuses on the relationship between ceramic technology and social organisation, and studies 400 vessels selected from seven settlements in a micro-region of the south-central Sardinia, in the Province of Cagliari. Sardinia is the second larger island of Italy, located in the central part of the Western Mediterranean basin. These settlements refer to the time span, locally called ‘Nuragic Society’, starting around the Middle Bronze Age, 1700 - 1365 BC, and continuing through the Recent Bronze Age, 1365 - 1200 BC, to the Final Bronze Age, 1200 - 1020 BC.

The principal research question of my thesis is whether a technological study of a selected group of pottery coming from nuragic domestic structures, can shed new light on the pattern of pottery production, consumption and exchange at an inter-site level within the region under study. More focused questions address other relevant sub-questions:

a)    How was pottery production organised in the area under study during the Middle, Recent and Final Bronze Age?
b)    How the pottery vessels were formed, surface-treated and fired?
c)    Were the raw materials of local origin?
d)    Did potters living within the same area share the technological traditions and raw material sources? Alternatively, was access to them based on co-residential groups?
e)    Was there any change in paste composition and technological characters accompanying the vessel different forms appearing during the Bronze Age?
f)    Would it be possible to compare and match differences in pottery fabrics and technological styles observed under the petrologic microscope with major phases of growing settlement complexity in the excavated case-study sites?
g)    Were there examples of craft standardization and/or specialisation?
h)    Would it be possible to assert, considering all the relevant parts of this study, that nuragic people were characterised during the middle of the second millennium BC, by a peculiar ‘identity’? Instead, could this be a modern constructed concept due to the apparent homogeneity and standardization of nuragic vessels typology, nuraghi settlements and a shared set of practices and beliefs?

Households, representing the most basic components of human organization and the primary unit of consumption in prehistoric societies, largely reflect conservative and highly culture-specific behaviours (Aldenderfer 1993; Bourdieu 1977; Collett 1987; Giddens 1984; Kent 1990; Kus and Raharijaona 1990; Madella et al. 2013; Rapoport 1990; Stark, Clark, and Elson 1998). Moreover, although domestic units normally produced a large percentage of resources they consumed, were never completely self-sufficient (Dalton, 1977; Halstead and O’Shea 1989) and had to engage themselves in various reciprocal exchange arrangements for labour, goods and food procurement (Hagstrum 2001; Netting et al. 1984).

The study develops tracing, spatially and temporally, continuity and change in ceramics technology, using: 1) ceramic petrology, which is the systematic description of pottery materials, their compositions and organization in hand specimen and prepared samples or thin-sections, using a polarising microscope (Whitbread 1995); 2) the concept of ‘chaine operatoire’, the sequence of technical and mental gestures that potters perform during the artefact manufacture, use, repair and discard; 3) the raw materials provenance study which, using analytical and geological approaches, will help in establishing whether the corpus of vessels under study was produced using clays and other naturally or intentionally added materials obtained from the investigated area or far away from it; and  4)  the experimental archaeology.

The alternatives selected by artisans in their choice of raw materials (or ‘technological styles’) reflect an internalized understanding of the manufacturing traditions, learned through an early ‘motor habit’, and passed on from one generation to the next. Once acquired, it is the most resistant part of the sequence to change (Arnold 1981, 1985, 1994; Bourdieu, 1977; Gosselain 1988, 1999a, 1999b and 2000; Kreiter 2005; Roux and Corbetta 1990). Indeed, the different steps of the operation sequence in ceramics production, being regulated by social rules guiding everything from the choices of raw material to the ‘proper’ bodily comportment; by the way tradition dictated the ‘right’ way to shape and use objects; by gender ideologies determining who could or not could make certain objects or use them (Dobres 2010: 109) and taboos of different nature, were fully embedded in the community’s social and economic systems. For this reason they can be useful to provide clues on social behaviour (Dobres 2010; Gosselain 1998: 87-91).

The approach I am proposing in this research - analysing ceramic fabric variability among selected common nuragic vessel forms in close connection with the domestic architectures in which they were found - represents an innovation with respect to the previous studies of pottery in Sardinia, that have mainly focused on stylistic attributes and their use in assessing a chronological typology. In particular, starting from these pre-existing typologies I am going to test them using the concept of ‘technological style’ and challenge their interpretation in terms of social organisation and chronological significance.

Bernard Guinan

(Supervisors Deirdre O'Sullivan and Oliver Harris)




The Prehistoric Landscapes of County Mayo, Ireland: The Impact of Development-Led Archaeology

This PhD research will examine the impact of developmental-led archaeology on the prehistoric landscapes of County Mayo in the west of Ireland. Over the last 25 years Ireland, on a national level, witnessed an exponential growth in development-led archaeological work as a result of major infrastructural investment in the construction of roads, pipelines (water, sanitary, gas etc), buildings, housing and amenities. Accelerated growth was followed by a rapid decline in activity from 2008 onwards, following the global economic crisis. Within this context the project will examine the scale, scope and nature of development-led archaeological investigations in County Mayo and assess the body of new archaeological data derived from this work, much of which remains to be quantified, examined, evaluated and integrated into the narrative of the regions prehistory. The research will examine what can be learned regarding the quantity, nature, range, chronology and distributional pattern of the new data and examine its impact on the prehistoric landscapes of the county at a local and sub-regional level.

Frank Hargrave

(Supervisors Colin Haselgrove and Penelope Allison)

Late Iron Age shrines in context

The discovery of the Iron Age shrine at Hallaton, Leicestershire has questioned many of the assumptions of religious sites during the Iron Age. In light of Hallaton I am researching British shrines in the context of their European counterparts, focusing on their zennith in the decades before and during the Roman invasion. I hope to explore their role in society and perhaps even shed some light on the mysteries of the religion/s of Iron Age Britain.

Phil Hughes

(Supervisors David Mattingly and Will Bowden (Nottingham))








I Forgot to Remember to Forget: Curation, (Re)Use and Memory of the Prehistoric Past in Roman Britain

This project will investigate the (re)use of prehistoric artefacts and landscapes in Roman Britain (AD 43-410 CE). There is a growing body of evidence indicating that ancient places and objects were cosmologically significant to later societies, yet such manifestations are largely neglected by orthodox models of cultural change examining Roman imperialism. The past 25 years have seen the emergence of a consensus abandoning the linear, top-down imposition of Roman culture onto the people of the provinces, instead emphasising a much more varied picture of local acceptance, resistance and reworking of extant and incoming norms. T, there is a need to integrate reuse of prehistoric material into these theoretical models. To achieve this, the project will analyse sites demonstrating evidence for deliberate reuse in the Romano-British period such as Palaeolithic cave systems, Neolithic long barrows, henge and stone circles complexes and Iron-Age hillforts, together with assemblages of ancient portable objects which show evidence for ‘structured deposition’ in Roman contexts. Temporal and geographical trends shall be considered to account for variations in practices, which tell us  how the people of the Roman period interpreted and used/constructed the past. It is proposed that systematic analysis will allow for an understanding of the complex relationships between communities, objects and landscapes during a period when belief systems and cultural traditions saw radical negotiations. Further, it provides an arena where ideas of continuity and change, which pervade discussion of Roman imperialism, can be critiqued to integrate notions of memory into existing frameworks.

This research is funded by the AHRC and the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership.

Cristina M. Hernández

(Supervisors Penelope Allison and Sarah Scott)


Domestic Baths in Pompeii — A Phenomenological and Cultural Reading of Architectural Design and Space

The study of domestic baths has been secondary to the examination of large Roman imperial and public bath complexes. Previous studies tend to focus on bath typologies and have interpreted domestic baths within the broader contexts of public baths and bathing culture. My research will attempt to place domestic baths in the context of the home and domestic culture as used by the homeowner and his household. Rather than imposing the culture of public bathing on the domestic bath, I intend to examine the architectural design and material remains for what they say about the phenomenological experience, use, and meaning of baths within the home.

Through the investigation of archaeological remains of baths and furnishings, relevant textual documents, and architectural design, this research focuses on the sensory environment of the domestic baths; the shaping and management of vision; and attitudes about Roman moral values, the body, gender, and display as related to domestic baths and bathing during the Late Republic and Early Empire. Case studies will be drawn from identified domestic baths in Pompeian homes.

Elisabeth Janovsky

(Supervisors Sarah Scott and Deirdre O'Sullivan)




Cultural interaction, artistic progress and leisure culture: an object biographical approach to decorated gaming counters from Roman and Medieval Spain, Gaul and Italy

Gaming counters are found at many archaeological sites, and range from simple pebbles to more elaborate glass and pottery pieces, or intricately decorated bone and ivory. In my research I will focus on bone and ivory game counters, and through object biography, I will show the life histories of these items, i.e. how they were made, used and deposited. My focus is on the early Roman Empire, as well as the High Medieval period, in order to explore possible continuity in both choice of motif and usage. Geographically, I focus on Spain, Italy and France, although this is likely to be narrowed down as research progresses. When finished, my PhD will demonstrate that game piece imagery is not just decoration, but can form part of a religious or political discourse, and that gaming counters can help us explore bigger issues of leisure culture, identity and religious belief.

Raminder Kaur

(Supervisors Ruth Young and David Edwards)









How important were the roles of royal patronage and lay donations in the rise and establishment of Buddhism in early historic South Asia?

The research aims to examine this question through a comparison of sacred and secular literary texts and archaeological evidence, such as architecture, inscriptions, coins and art. Specifically, I examine what Buddhist texts say about donations, how this is reflected archaeologically and what the role of the Buddhist Order was in promoting dhamma to society. The portrayal of certain kings, such as Asoka and Menander, as supporters of Buddhism will be looked at against their portrayals in other religious and secular texts, and the archaeological evidence available to support or refute the claims made. The role of royalty was important in the rise and establishment of Buddhism as a major belief system, therefore an examination into how rulers might have encouraged lay support is necessary. The motivation behind support, such as the benefits spiritually, politically, socially and economically, and what the reasons were for patronage and donations will form a part of the research. There will be a comparison of peripheral areas of the subcontinent, such as Gandhara and Sri Lanka, with the core area of Buddhism in the Gangetic basin. A key question is what constitutes patronage – is it merely supporting the followers of Buddhism or did it involve embracing the faith personally? To what extent did supporting Buddhism lead to the creation of ‘Buddhism’ as a distinct belief system from other heterodox sects and the orthodox faith?

Heather Keeble

(Supervisors Jeremy Taylor and Sarah Scott)


Roman finds in Victorian and Edwardian newspapers

My research considers how the reporting of Roman finds in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century newspapers reflected people's understanding of the urban archaeology of the Roman world and the views of their own past. This period saw huge changes in the understanding of Roman Britain, which is evident in the writings of scholars, politicians and novelists and has already been documented. I intend to focus on the understanding of the wider population rather than just the learned few. By the late nineteenth century newspapers were being read by even the poorest in society and as a source of contemporary information they should highlight the population's interests and concerns, and therefore offer the chance to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their views on Roman Britain and archaeology in general.

Ijaz Khan

(Supervisors Ruth Young and David Edwards)


Settlement History of Lower Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

My research aims to identify a range of sites with which to characterize the chronology of settlement in the region and thus construct a broad settlement history of Lower Dir. I will be carrying out original research using methodologies which are either new or under-utilized in Pakistan archaeology in order to characterize the settlement of Lower Dir both temporally and chronologically and determine key settlement trends. I will be using the site of Timergaraha in Dir (excavated and published by Dani in the 1960s) as a case study in order to consider the so called Gandharan Grave sites within the wider landscape. There are many question about these late Bronze/ early Iron Age grave sites, and the presence of the nearby associated a settlement site provides an opportunity to consider how the people living in this site and using the cemetery interacted with their landscape and any other contemporary sites in the area.

Rebecca Kibble

(Supervisors Mark Gillings and Richard Thomas)

Digital Datasets and Faunal Assemblages: Using GIS to digitise Multi-Variate Bone Assemblage Data across Complex Spatio-temporal Domains within Multi-scalar Platforms

My research aims at creating and analysing a digital dataset that can incorporate complex and multi-strand statistical data formulated from the identification, analysis and interpretation stages of archaeo-faunal assemblages at a variety of scales. The main purposes of my research are two-fold; first, to create a digital dataset that statistically amalgamates whole archaeo-faunal assemblage data within a GIS platform capable of much deeper spatio-temporal visualisation and analysis at multiple scales. Second is to illustrate the capabilities of GIS in terms of successfully creating, visualising and spatio-temporally querying multi-variate assemblage data, fully exploiting the research potential of GIS applications specific to the archaeological discipline.

Damjan Krsmanovic

(Supervisors Naoise Mac Sweeney and Ian Whitbread)

Transformations in Culture, Society, and Politics in Early to Middle Iron Age central and western Anatolia.

My PhD project deals with the aim of characterising the emergence of formalized political authority at select sites in central and western Anatolia during the transition between the Early Iron Age (1200-900 BCE) and Middle Iron Age (900-550 BCE). Formalized political authority requires the command of a mixture of material and symbolic resources in order to be perpetuated in a sustained fashion, and, in focusing on material aspects, I shall argue that storage is one means through which this was brought about. Storage deals with issues of visibility, access, and knowledge of resources; and shifting patterns in the character of storage arguably played a role in the development of formalized political authority and increased social inequality. To assist interpretation, frameworks from sociology and anthropology will be utilized to explain socio-political change, and, accordingly, present alternative perspectives on the developments in the Early-Middle Iron period in central and western Anatolia.

Jason Ladick

(Supervisors Deirdre O'Sullivan and Richard Thomas)


Roots of Reform: A contextual interpretation of church fitting in Norfolk during the English Reformation

My research aims to provide a new interpretation of the fate of religious material culture in the English Reformation through an appraisal of both documents and archaeological evidence for church fitting, within the county of Norfolk . Three rural areas and one urban case study, the provincial capital of Norwich, have been selected as the basis of detailed analysis. Rather than succumbing to the revisionist portrayal of the Reformation, this research will offer a nuanced perspective of the shifting identity and conflict among different social groups in early modern England. Furthermore, the nature of early modern religious ideals and notions of sacrality and space will be explored. This work will extend the theme of religious transformation well beyond the Tudor period into the 17th century.

Meredith Laing

(Supervisors Colin Haselgrove and Jo Appleby)









Growing up and starting work in later British prehistory

My research focusses on children in the Bronze and Iron Ages.  I am exploring what we can we tell about the experience of being young and growing up during this time in prehistory.  I am interested in how the position of children within society changed from the Early Bronze Age through to the end of the Iron Age, and whether modern cultural concepts of childhood have any relevance to prehistoric societies. My research follows two paths in order to create a more rounded picture of growing up in prehistory.

The first is a funerary analysis of sub-adult burials throughout later prehistory, with a geographical focus on eastern England.  Comparing the biological age of sub-adult remains with their mortuary treatment should shed light on whether communities conceived of different ages or stages of childhood worthy of being reflected in mortuary practices.

The second focuses on young people’s involvement in craft production and the economic life of their communities.  Inter-generational learning is an almost unspoken assumption in archaeology, and my project will examine evidence of the age/stage at which children started to learn and become involved in craft production.  I am approaching this by using forensic techniques of fingerprint analysis to assign biological ages to the makers of fingerprints left on ceramics.  Impressions of epidermal ridges made both intentionally and accidentally on clay can be preserved by firing, and part of my project will involve refining appropriate techniques for using biometric data from preserved fingerprints within archaeology.  I will be using several ceramic sources for the study including briquetage (pottery used in salt production) and fingertip decorated pottery from domestic and funerary assemblages.

Jessica Lam

(Supervisors Jo Appleby and Jeremy Levesly (Applied Mathematics))

Using Novel 3D Comparative Techniques to Assess Skeletal Remains

In order to identify skeletal remains, 3D comparative software programs can facilitate the morphometric comparisons of bone. This allows for biological parameters such as age, sex, and ancestry to be compared between a bone of unknown origin and a bone of known parameters. This approach, however, only allows for a single 3D model to be compared to another 3D model, which does not lend itself to proper statistical analyses of the biological parameters. This project will therefore seek to develop new comparative techniques to allow for a sample to be compared to multiple reference samples in order to generate robust statistical probabilities associated with the biological parameters. In particular, 3D models of skulls will be used in this project to assess biological sex, and how the approach of sex assessment differs between populations.

Andy Lamb

(Supervisors Colin Haselgrove and Simon James)






Mortuary practices in Later Iron Age southern Britain and northern Gaul

This study seeks to examine mortuary data from southern British counties (Wessex, Sussex and Kent) and northern French régions (Normandy, Picardy, Nord-Pas-de-Calais) dated to between the start of the Later Iron Age (c.500/450BC) and the 1st century AD. During this period a variety of mortuary practices were in use in this area, including inhumations, cremations, the deposition of individual bones and articulated sections of skeletons. Current narratives for the area suggest that for much of the Later Iron Age there was a lack of contact between southern Britain and northern Gaul. During the La Tène D phase (starting c.150BC), however, there is good evidence for contact between communities either side of the Channel, both in the form of exchanges of material culture, and historical data which records individuals moving across the sea. This study will examine several variables of mortuary practices, including choices in terms of locations within sites to deposit human remains, the way in which human remains were treated and the objects associated with them. By doing so, it is hoped that it will be possible to detect trans-regional and sub-regional patterns of mortuary practices and further our understanding as to the level of contact between communities on either side of the English Channel during this period.

Zhao Li

(Supervisors Huw Barton and Ruth Young)


The emergence of agriculture in the Pearl River Delta from 5.5 ka to 2.5ka

The aim of my research is to investigate the early agricultural activities in prehistoric south subtropical China. Research will focus on the use of starch-rich plants (roots, nuts, sago flour from palms) among groups that lived in the Pearl River Delta from 5.5 ka to 2.5 ka.

This thesis will be able to identify and characterize the diet of early Neolithic communities in this region through the analysis of starch from ground stone. This study will also seek to understand the importance and role of starch-rich plants in the diet of early Neolithic communities such as roots, nuts, sago flour from palms and their changing role in the diet as grains become more prominent over time.

Tammy Macenka

(Supervisors Colin Haselgrove and Jo Appleby)





Reconstructing the Arras Culture: A Mortuary Study of the Yorkshire Region

My thesis will seek to establish what constitutes the “Arras Culture”. Can this label be applied to areas beyond East Yorkshire, long thought to be the only area that square-ditched burials existed? If square-ditched burials documented in North and West Yorkshire are part of the same cultural manifestation, would it significantly change the way we look at the Iron Age of Yorkshire? I plan to look at the society in terms of social structure/stratification as well as how the society may have functioned. In doing so, I plan to examine the human remains that come from a variety of contexts, such as cemeteries, settlements, hillforts and isolated burials. Where this differs from other studies is that I will not confine my examination to the major cemeteries but will include all data on human remains. Previous studies have concentrated on specific aspects or on specific cemeteries, while others have offered “overarching” perspectives but there has been nothing done to tie these various aspects together to form a coherent narrative of what society would have looked like during the Middle to Late Iron Age in the Yorkshire region.

Botan Maghdid

(Supervisors Simon James and Naoise Mac Sweeney)




Relations Between Arabs and the Roman and Sasanian Empires: a Critical Historiography of Modern Arab Scholarship Since 1918

The ancient Arabs had complex interactions with the Roman, Sasanian and later the Byzantine Empires. These included many extraordinary historical moments such as the conquest of the Sasanian Empire and expulsion of the Byzantines from Palestine and Syria. Modern Arab historiography has characterized this ancient interaction in various different ways. Crucially, it has been affected deeply by political changes in the contemporary Arab world, especially in the Levant and Mesopotamia. My research examines the various ways that the relationships between ancient Arabs and the Roman, Byzantine and Sasanian Empires was interpreted by the modern Arab scholars, from the end of the Ottoman Empire until today. It seeks to draw out main trends, to relate these to modern Arab political ideologies, and to evaluate how far historical writing was involved in political debate throughout the period.

Rubén Montoya González

(Supervisors Penelope Allison, Sarah Scott, and Katharina Lorenz (University of Nottingham))

Villa décor, identity and self-representation in the 4th century Guadalquivir Valley (Hispania Ulterior Baetica)

In the last two decades approaches to Roman art in the private sphere have changed form a primarily descriptive and static discourse influenced by Pompeian examples, to a more theoretical debate concerning the nature and diversity of provincial evidence. My PhD will contribute to the latter vibrant discourse, focusing on villa décor through the application of different methodologies engaging with the concept of “identity”. Decorative display within villas has been seen as an indicator of patronal identity in Romano British villas, but hitherto nothing of this sort has been attempted with the rich data from Hispania, where previous approaches have been largely limited to the iconography of mosaics, paintings and sculptures. My study will investigate aspects such as self-representation, and the individual/group projection of identities (religious, cultural, political) at local/regional levels.


This research is funded by the AHRC and the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership.

Matthew Mandich

(Supervisors Neil Christie and Daniel Stewart)











The Growth of Rome: Impacts and Implications of (Sub)Urban Expansion

This thesis employs a multi-theoretical, diachronic approach to assess and track the physical, demographic, and economic growth of the city of Rome, primarily from the mid-Republic to the mid-Empire. Although much studied as an urban entity, the actual spatial evolution and poly-centrality of Rome have seen much less consideration, thus restricting attempts to more accurately quantify, qualify, and model the economic and demographic growth and change its physical expansion represents. By combining modern models and theories from fields such as urban studies, geography, and complexity science with the existing archaeological evidence and ancient source material, this thesis aims to provide a clearer understanding of the City’s evolving size and extent, in turn allowing for a better assessment of Rome’s concomitant economic and demographic development. To accomplish this, the study is broken into three constituent parts. Part I provides the context for the study and discusses the theoretical approach, available evidence, and novel methodology. Part II focuses on the topography and physical expansion of the City from roughly 200 BC – AD 270 and aims to track, map, and model this expansion through several detailed case studies. Here, specific emphasis is given to the movement of the urban fringe, the function, development, and location of suburban properties (and zones), and the extent of the urban core and so-called ‘suburbium’. Part III then explores correlations between urbanization processes and economic and demographic growth and examines how such correlations allow Rome’s growth to be qualified. Finally, the last chapter sees detailed discussion on the overall growth (and decline) of the city of Rome, and the wider implications this may have had for the Empire over the longue durée.

Jess McCullough

(Supervisors Deirdre O'Sullivan and Neil Christie)

Religious Identity and Transition in Settlement Era (CE 950-1050) Norse Greenland

The Icelandic sagas depict Greenland as a wholly pagan settlement, and its conversion the result of missionary activity instigated by the crown of Norway and carried out by the family of Leifr Eiriksson. Archaeologically, however, very little in the way of Greenland’s pagan past has been discovered. This, coupled with the lack of a traditional conversion narrative in the style of Bede or other medieval chronicler, leaves the pages of Greenland’s conversion curiously blank. By analyzing the dating and spread of private churches in Greenland, burial customs, DNA evidence and genealogical data I aim to bring this blurry period into better focus and secure Greenland a more developed place in the field of North Atlantic conversion studies.

Doug Mitcham

(Supervisors Mark Gillings, Rod Wilson North from Exmoor National Park, and Oliver Harris)








Fields, farms and megaliths; unravelling the unique Neolithic - Early Bronze Age landscapes of Exmoor, SW Britain

Our understanding of the prehistory of Exmoor is limited, often considered the poorer cousin of better studied upland landscapes such as Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. Exmoor has not seen any specific focus of research other than two very useful but generalised overviews; Grinsell's The Archaeology of Exmoor (1970) and Riley and Wilson-North's The Field Archaeology of Exmoor (2001). Both these studies highlight the importance of the archaeology of Exmoor, and unique aspects which have no known parallel. This project will seek to redress the lack of research by producing for the first time a detailed synthesis of archaeological and environmental information for the Neolithic and Bronze Age landscape of Exmoor. An in depth analysis of previously collected data (antiquarian activity, ENPA Historic Environment Records, museum collections) along with newly gathered information (LiDAR survey, National Mapping Programme, excavation and geophysical survey, environmental data) will allow new insights into the Neolithic and Bronze Age archaeology of Exmoor. This will lead to building detailed reconstructions and interpretations of the Neolithic and Bronze Age remains for the first time. The overall aim of this research is then to investigate the unique prehistoric landscapes of Exmoor and explore their implications for a number of important debates within prehistory. Such issues include the creation and role of monuments, along with the transition from isolated monuments to landscapes with linear boundaries, fields and settlement. Questioning current approaches to the academic delineation and study of processes such as monumentality will also form an important thread within this work. The issue of regionality, increasingly important in recent narratives of prehistory, will be examined to uncover the interpretative importance of local manifestations of wider social imperatives. In addition, the later prehistory of Exmoor has the potential to shed light on debates surrounding how we should go about defining regions in prehistory.

Belinda Mollard

(Supervisors Mark Gillings and Huw Barton)







Understanding a Ritual Landscape: An Investigation into the Rock Art of the Jornada Mogollon Region of the American Southwest

The southern escarpment, foothills and drainages of the Sacramento Mountains in the American Southwest constitute one of the less intensely studied areas of the Jornada Mogollon Region. My research will build upon on-going research efforts concerning ritual sites and landscapes in the Jornada Mogollon region of the Chihuahuan Desert. People often perceive, protect, and shape the land in the course of symbolic processes that engage with their sense of place, memory, history, oral traditions, and the boundaries of realms, both sacred and profane. Establishing the landscape context of rock art helps to determine the kind of audiences it was intended for and thus the kind of social relationships it may have negotiated (Bradley 2000:69). The aims of this research project are to investigate and evaluate the possibility of a ritual landscape, in the context of rock art studies, for the Jornada Mogollon culture area. And to answer the questions of why the rock art was placed in specific places on the landscape (or why it was not)? And, is there really a difference between sacred and profane for the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon? Utilizing oral traditions of descendent communities, geospatial analysis, and ethnographies I hope to interpret the ways this past culture shaped their landscape through the deployment of cultural and social practices, and the ways, in turn, that people were influenced, motivated, or constrained by their natural surroundings. The results of this study will hopefully become a foundation for rock art studies in this understudied region.

Julia Nikolaus

(Supervisors David Mattingly and David Edwards)







Roman Funerary Reliefs and North African Identity: A Contextual and Comparative Investigation of Iconography in Tripolitania and Beyond

In Tripolitania, Roman period cemeteries are rich in mausolea decorated with funerary reliefs and statues that depict ritual, religious and symbolic scenes, as well as representations of daily life. Research on these reliefs has been predominantly conducted on scenes correlating with Roman or Punic artistic norms, with the focus on individual sites or monuments. As a result, many aspects that influence or determine the choice of relief depictions on funerary monuments have received very limited attention despite their potential to elucidate much about localized traditions, religion and rituals in and beyond the boundaries of the North African Roman provinces. I will investigate how the iconography of funerary reliefs reflects local identities and/or ethnicity rather than simply being a by-product of ‘Romanisation’ and ‘Imperialism’. What symbolism underlies the reliefs in the different geographical areas of Tripolitania? how can they be compared and interpreted and to what extent can we speak of adoption, resistance or continuation of local traditions within these images? How evident are earlier Punic influences? Does trans-Saharan contact influence these depictions? My study will incorporate approaches also from anthropology and modern sociology to interrogate the data in a new way and widen the ‘traditional’ avenues of enquiry.

Manolis Pagkalos

(Supervisors Graham Shipley and Naoise Mac Sweeney)








Perceiving the Past in Early Hellenistic Greece; Investigating the narratives of the past and its use in remodeling the Hellenistic reality

This research project will examine the use of the past in Early Hellenistic Greece. This period was a time of major political, cultural and social changes. New structures of power and political organization marked the transformation of the city-states of Classical Greece into subject cities of a Macedonian Empire. Focusing on a range of different sources of evidence – archaeological data, epigraphy, ancient literary sources – and assisted by critical evaluation of the secondary historiographical views (traditional or more recent interpretations), the project will address a complex issue. It will explore the conception and construction of the past and its impact on the still-forming Early Hellenistic world. The past always occupied a specific role in the history of the polis throughout the Archaic and Classical periods. Civic identity was authenticated by more or less exclusive local myths, which were often used as prominent political tools. But in the wake of the massive political and socio-economic changes of the Early Hellenistic period, the past – as well as the present – urgently needed to be rewritten. Recent theories from the cognitive, social and spatial sciences will play a crucial role in my investigation of the treatment of the past during this time and of the potential for the past to reshape contemporary world-views. Studies concerning the construction of collective memory – as applied in the field of modern history – will add a new theoretical perspective. My central questions are:

*To what extent and in what ways did the dynamics of this transitional period inform how narratives of the past were shaped?
*To what extent and in what ways did the reconstructed narratives of the past shape the social and political realities of the Early Hellenistic period?

Abid ur-Rehman

(Supervisors Ruth Young and Deirdre O'Sullivan)












Architecture as Identity: Analyses of the Sethi Havelis in Pakistan.

The Sethis being business community of the Peshawar developed trade links between Pakistan and Central Asia in 19th and 20th centuries. They constructed seven exceedingly embellished Havelis (large houses) within the walled city of Peshawar. These Havelis served as both business centres and residential complexes for them and their extended families, and have been described as cultural hubs, where architectural elements and decorative motifs are believed to have been immensely influenced by various foreign cultures and art traditions, mostly borrowed from Persia, Central Asia and Indian art. The aim of this research is to trace the social, cultural and economic use of these Havelis and their relationship with the Sethi family in 19th and 20th centuries (1805-1813 Durrani Period, 1814-1848 Sikh Period, 1849-1947 British Period and 1947-2015 Pakistani Period). During my research, I plan to systematically investigate these Havelis by examining their architecture, decorations, techniques, forms, functions, and alterations.

My proposed architectural analyses will explore the way in which architecture can be analysed and interpreted in order to learn more about occupant’s motivations and intentions as well as their relationship with Havelis through time. In addition, working on these Havelis in combination with an examination of the Sethis welfare contributions within the district of Peshawar will I believe allow me to create a more complete picture of the Sethis social, cultural and economic dynamics in each specific period. This research will not only fill the gaps in existing knowledge but will also provide a comprehensive understanding of the Sethi Havelis and their impact on wider society. Moreover, my research will provide comprehensive data for conservation groups to use in future restorations and rehabilitations of these Havelis.

Carmen G. Sanchez Fortoul

(Supervisors Ruth Young and Alice Samson)






The economy of the Late Postclassic Maya: a regional perspective based on the analysis of ceramic production of northern Yucatan, Mexico

My research examines the nature of Maya society during the last pre-Hispanic period, the Late Postclassic, a time of deep transformations in Maya society. The objectives of this study are twofold. One aim is to contribute to a better understanding of Late Postclassic economy by examining ceramic production techniques, patterns of technological variations, and pottery provenance and distribution. In particular, this study examines technological variations in the light of the observed homogenization of ceramic style over the study region. The second aim is to contribute to a better understanding of Maya identities, technological traditions and communities of shared practices, and the articulation among those communities. This thesis adopts the principle that pottery is the physical representation of a complex context of historical, social, political, and ideological meanings. Therefore, variations in pottery technologies represent variations in the cultural context and may uncover identities, traditions, and social boundaries. The results of this research are compared to current propositions for the organization of Late Postclassic ceramic production and distribution in northern Yucatán informing current Late Postclassic perspectives.

Giacomo Savani

(Supervisors Sarah Scott and Marijke van der Veen)








The Evolution and the Role of Private Baths in Roman Britain: An Elite Becoming and Being Roman

This research seeks to contribute to and enhance our current understanding of the processes of cultural change in Britain through the study of private baths and their diffusion in Roman Britain, as a social and cultural phenomenon linked to the appearance of public baths. How far do these baths provide an index of Romanisation or how far do they denote an evolution of society within the period of Roman rule? Are these baths a reflection as much of society as of technological and cultural availability? When do they appear in both town and country private contexts? When is their peak and how and why do they evolve? A key target will be to compile a complete catalogue of private baths in Southern Britain, bringing together previously disparate forms of evidence, in order to identify both regional and chronological developments. There will be consideration of specific case study areas to assess better the cultural milieu. To help understand this evolution and reconstruct its origins, comparison will be made with examples from other provinces, notably Gaul and Spain. The British evidence will be evaluated in the context of recent scholarship regarding the adoption and adaptation of 'Roman' forms from the pre-conquest period onwards. Finally, an analysis of both the artistic and architectural aspects of private baths, helped by innovative computer reconstructions, will seek to give fuller 'life' to these bath complexes to understand their design and working.

Andrea Scarpato

(Supervisors Dan Stewart and Graham Shipley)












The Limits of Realism: Sparta in the third century BC

This interdisciplinary project involves the combination of literary and epigraphic evidence with theories drawn from the realm of International Relations. Realism, a branch of International Relations Theory, has been adopted to explore the interactions among Hellenistic states and the environment in which they operated. Its application to Hellenistic history has generated a pessimistic and simplistic view of interstate relations: a world characterized by a constellation of states engaged in a perpetual great-power competition where the ultimate aim was to be the hegemon – the only significant power in the system. In this zero-sum game, where there was no central authority seated above states and protecting them from each other, “international law” was minimal and largely unenforceable. This project argues for a more complex picture of Hellenistic interstate relations: the Hellenistic world was indeed characterized by consistent warfare and struggle for power, but also by important attempts to circumvent conflict without recourse to violence. The persistent resort to interstate arbitrations, ties of kinship, embassies and the presence of significant acts of solidarity such as contributions and donations are only some of the symptoms of the broad complexity evidenced by Hellenistic interactions.

Spartan foreign policy in the third century BC constitutes an important caveat to test this theoretical background and to highlight the limits of Realist theory. The presence of kinship ties between Spartans and Southern Italian populations, the use of embassies to open negotiations with Hellenistic monarchs, and Sparta’s role in interstate arbitrations are only some of the limits found throughout this project. This project will also point toward the significance of the agency of some Spartan individuals in salient foreign political matters of this poorly documented period and will show the importance of peculiar individuals in Spartan decision-makings. The assessment of all these elements will show that Realist theory per se will not be sufficient to explore the complexity of interstate interactions.

Sarah Scheffler

(Supervisors David Mattingly and Colin Haselgrove)






Multiple identities in pre-Roman and early Roman Northern Italy. The integration of the Lomellina into the Roman empire during the late Iron Age

The northern Italian region along the river Po, the Pianura Padana, was one of the first regions beyond Roman state territory to be integrated into the Roman Empire. This process – traditionally termed Romanisation – comprises so much more than only the military conquest and the administrative re-organisation or the legislative process of granting citizenship. Hence, there should be more left to us than roads and aqueducts as evidence of the new Roman infrastructure and newly founded settlements or the written sources by ancient historians. Moreover, they described this process from a very Roman and generally later perspective. However, the integration into the Roman Empire was also a driving factor behind cultural changes affecting the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic population of that area. Their legacy lies within their cemeteries, providing us with information about individual and shared identities, social structures and changing cultural patterns. Therefore, my research will base on cemetery analyses that will give an insight into changing identities and also investigate the impact of the military conquest and administrative on individuals and communities in these regions.

Matthew Selheimer

(Supervisors Pim Allison and Neil Christie)












Life at the Cross-roads: How street intersections shaped Roman socio-spatial experience

Street intersections and the spaces surrounding them greatly influence experience and behavior in urban environments. They subdivide space, facilitate movement, shape pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow, focus the attention of passersby, provide a place for public engagement and display, facilitate commercial transactions, influence criminal activity, and more. Despite these influences, a comprehensive analysis of the spatial environment surrounding Roman urban street intersections has not been undertaken to date. Prior scholarship has more narrowly explored topics such as crossroads shrines and the festival of the Compitalia, the frequent location of shops with masonry counters at intersections, how intersections may have influenced the definition of neighborhoods, the analysis of intersection curbstone wear patterns to identify possible traffic patterns, and the use of intersection density along a street as an indicator of primary vs. secondary roads.

By analyzing intersections more holistically through relevant Latin vocabulary and textual references, material remains from sites within Italy and select provinces, and both archaeological theory and modern urban planning and design theory, this research project seeks to expand scholarly understanding of socio-spatial usage within the Roman urban fabric. Thematic elements explored will include commercial, domestic, religious, political, public (non-political), and hybrid uses. Case studies will be drawn from both Italy and select provinces with Pompeii featured as a primary case study and occupying a central role in the development of the research methodology. The research questions for investigation are: How were intersections conceptualized by the Romans? How did the Romans use the environment around intersections and how did this differ based on location, street hierarchy, and over time? How might a classification of intersection environments enable new understanding of partially excavated sites and unexcavated areas?

Michaela Senkova

(Supervisors Daniel Stewart and Naoise Mac Sweeney)




Healing in Archaic and Classical Greece

My PhD focuses on the roles of gods and sanctuaries in healing, asking the question of how people dealt with illness in Archaic and Classical Greece. In particular I am interested in answering how people sought healing through the supernatural/divine. I approach this from the viewpoint of individuals as ‘consumers’ of healing, exploring what options were available in the Greek world based on region, wealth and gender, beyond ‘professional’ doctors or the big Asclepian cults that were perhaps patronized more by elites or by people who lived in close proximity to them. I ask how ‘ordinary’ people who would not have had a big Asclepian cult nearby used sanctuaries to other deities whose roles included healing, addressing the issue of popularity these places would have enjoyed, who specifically used them and how, and whether specific health conditions based on gender and/or age and life stage could be linked to particular religious cults. The envisaged result is a comprehensive and contextualized study of the choices available for people who sought healing.

Rachel Small

(Supervisors Richard Thomas, Alexandra Livarda (Nottingham) and Richard Jones)










Food, identity and humoral theory in early modern England: a case study from Leicestershire

Archaeological studies of food have generally taken an isolationist approach considering animal and plant remains separately and most have failed to integrate written sources fully into their discussion. Furthermore, interpretations have tended to focus on the economics of production (e.g. an increase in the consumption of calves can be explained by a rise in dairy production) or on identifying aspects of dietary identity (most commonly social status). A major omission in current scholarship is consideration of humoral theory as a framework that guided contemporary attitudes to diet and good health. This was particularly true for the early modern period (c. 1450 – 1800) when it was believed that the body contained four humors (yellow bile, black bile, blood and phlegm) and good health lay in their balance. All foods had a particular humoral structure and when consumed affected the individual’s body. Correct diet achieved humoral balance and so determined good health. This research will use a case-study of an early modern aristocratic household — Bradgate House, Leicestershire, home of the Grey family. As wealthy, literate individuals, at the forefront of cultural change (Bradgate House was one of the first English brick built houses) they were likely to have been familiar with fashionable dietary advice. In this study archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological evidence from the Bradgate House excavations will be quantitatively integrated and reviewed together with the extant household accounts; dietary evidence will be contextualised through regional and national site comparison. Drawing on primary documentary sources this study will answer the research question ‘how did humoral theory influence consumption behaviour and the construction and negotiation of group identities in early modern England?’

Bastiaan Steffens

(Supervisors Oliver Harris and Mark Gillings)

A Curated Past: Investigating changing conceptualisations of the past in Middle Bronze Age landscapes along the Southern North Sea

The project “A Curated Past” aims to understand the place of physical remnants of the past within the context of the period between 1600 – 1100 BC in the Netherlands and along the south-eastern coast of England. The period under study captures the very end of the Early Bronze Age period of large scale barrow construction across North Western Europe. The subsequent Middle Bronze Age instead gave rise to recognizable farmsteads and field-systems. Yet, older Bronze Age barrows are often reported to be incorporated within these later landscapes. The retention of these monumentalised structures within later field systems suggests that some ideas about the past remained significant, and that these structures might have warranted certain attitudes or behaviours. In some other instances, there are indications that settlements were abandoned in conspicuous ways, which is sometimes thought to signal their continuing importance. When actions of destruction or retention are seen as the ‘editing’ of narratives about the past, acts of transformation and the allowing of decay can be understood as strategic choices working in line with specific conceptions of how people ought to deal with their own past. Investigating the re-use of older sites during the Middle Bronze Age, and analysing the processes taking place upon and after abandonment therefore means investigating what kind of a reflection of the past was preferable, and what kind of a history apparently needed to be told.

Rachael Sycamore

(Supervisors David Mattingly and Colin Haselgrove)

Roman Metalwork Hoards in Britain

This project focuses on metalwork assemblages as well as any associated artefacts from across Britain which date to the Roman period. It aims to use GIS analysis to draw together regional and national data to provide more detailed insights into the landscape context of this practice. This analysis will also investigate the methods of collection of the data and how this may, or may not, reflect the Roman deposition pattern. There will also be detailed analysis of the assemblage of select hoards to produce artefact biographies with the aim of providing insights into the reasons for the deposition of these artefacts. Overall, this project intends to reveal possible cultural parameters within which the practice of hoard deposition occurred and what this practice meant to people in the Roman period.

Brittany Thomas

(Supervisors Neil Christie and Andrew Merrills)

Ravenna as a Viewed City: Display, Power, and Public Space in the Late Roman to Early Byzantine Capital, c. AD 400-600

Ravenna is renowned for its collection of exceptionally well-preserved fifth and sixth century mosaics. As a body of data, these mosaics and the buildings which house them are readily available and easy to access, making them no secret to the world of Late Antiquity. But were these buildings as easy to access and view in antiquity as they are today? My thesis seeks to answer new questions about ‘old’ data in an effort to reconceive our notions of ancient viewership, ‘public’ spaces, and the way in which we actively construct modern tourism around these ideas. This is a two part process which first involves a historical understanding of the late antique cityscape during Ravenna’s life as the later Roman, Ostrogothic, and early Byzantine capital (c. AD 400-600), and second asking questions about how we are 'curating' certain forms of display (monuments, artwork) in a tourist city like Ravenna and then examining how these two spheres interact.

Daan Van Helden

(Supervisors Penelope Allison and Sarah Tarlow)

Exploring the limits of the archaeological study of identity

I will be working to explore the limits of the study of past identity using archaeological evidence. It is hoped that this project will make an important contribution to debates about investigating identity in archaeology. I will mainly be using Roman material, but will also take approaches from other branches of archaeology into account. By analyzing the approaches that have been adopted so far to study identity using archaeological material, I hope to demonstrate the usefulness, or otherwise of various approaches and methodologies. Also, I hope to develop a method to quantify the success of archaeologically studying identity to determine at what level, if at all, identity can be studied most fruitfully using archaeological material.

Charlotte Van Regenmortel

(Supervisors Graham Shipley and Daniel Stewart)

Fighting for a Living: The Impact of Professional Soldiers on the Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Greek World (fourth to mid-second centuries BC)

The late Classical and early Hellenistic Ages saw a significant increase in the number of men who enlisted as mercenaries, resulting in an unprecedented number of active professional soldiers in the Greek world. My research aims to investigate the extent to which the presence of these professional soldiers impacted the social and economic developments of the time. While the phenomenon of the mercenary has received some attention in previous scholarship, I aim to study these soldiers specifically as labourers, emphasising the importance of remuneration in exchange for labour time, and the consequences this may have entailed. The project will therefore offer a social history of military employment during the period under discussion, focussing on labour relations and conditions, as well as an analysis of the economic impact of this large-scale instance of employment in the ancient Greek world.

Amy Wale

(Supervisors Mary Harlow and Andy Merrills)

Dress and Identity in the Roman and Late Antique World: the Case of North Africa (c. AD 200-700)

 Dress (i.e. all aspects of appearance, clothing, and body language) acts a powerful non-verbal marker of identity. As such, it communicates a variety of messages to its audience and through this process constructs, manipulates, and negotiates identities. My research examines these issues in the context of Roman and Late Antique North Africa using a variety of media: textual, documentary, material, and visual culture. Fundamental questions in this research focus on establishing how dress was used to construct cultural identities and the affect Christian discourses had on the rhetoric and reality of dress in North Africa. Dress facilitates markers of inclusion and exclusion and this research will also investigate the significance of understanding the experiential nature of dress and how this might impact its potential as a marker of status, religion, ethnicity, cultural affiliation etc. Additionally, this study examines how far modern theories such as post-colonialism, code-switching, and discrepant identities, have produced fragmentary views of the North African evidence. My research contributes to three important areas of study: the growing appreciation of the social importance of ancient textiles and dress in the past as material and physical markers of identity; to the study of cultural identity more widely; and better contextualising the transformation of North Africa (c. AD 200-700).

Mark Webb (GTA)

(Supervisors Deirdre O'Sullivan and Ruth Young)









The distinctiveness of late medieval townscapes

The late medieval urban environment is little understood. Few standing buildings survive and the topology of the town has often been altered by industry, war and modern development. The late medieval town in Europe is characterised as one of general ‘decay’ or ‘decline’, but no attempt has been made to combine the archaeological, documentary, and cartographic evidence to create a nuanced picture. It is hoped that a detailed analysis of the suburbs and core areas of selected case study towns in England, such as Leicester and Coventry, will identify differences between areas inhabited by rich and poor, evidence for zoning of industry, and information about other influences on individual town development including trade, religion, politics, the relationship between town and country, and longer term social developments. This study also recognises that medieval heritage is relevant to modern urban living. Medieval buildings and townscapes provide a ‘sense of place’ and distinctiveness to particular neighbourhoods. Many buildings, or whole streets, can be preserved and adapted for modern commercial or non-commercial use, and can be plugged into the town’s visitor economy. Understanding late medieval towns can also be put into the context of better-known narratives such as the Wars of the Roses, and also enable enhanced civic pride, with associated benefits for the social and economic wellbeing of local communities and regions today. Mark has a background in developing businesses in the international TV and internet media and broadcast sectors. He has an MBA from the University of Westminster and an MA in Urban Archaeology and Archaeological Site Management from the University College London. His research interests are: Medieval and Roman urban archaeology (especially in UK and Italy), politics and society in 15th century England, heritage site management and planning, heritage interpretation, heritage for urban regeneration.

Rachel Wilkinson

(Supervisor Colin Haselgrove and Jeremy Taylor)

Iron Age Metalwork Hoards in Britain

My project focuses on the burial of metalwork assemblages and their associated objects within Iron Age Britain. It aims draw together the regional data giving a more holistic view of the period and examine the similarities and differences to hoarding in the Bronze Age and Roman period. Scholarship has raised the importance of considering ritual or votive connotations for hoards, and through examination of the content, their condition, context and items associated with the hoard, I hope to provide more of an understanding of why these hoards were buried and their meaning for Iron Age people. The project is an AHRC-funded collaborative doctoral award in association with the British Museum.

Emily Williams

(Supervisors Sarah Tarlow and Ruth Young)




Stories in Stone: Memorialization, the Creation of History and the Role of Preservation

This project focuses on the study of two 19th century tombstones excavated in Williamsburg, Virginia. Carved for a manumitted slave and her father, the tombstones have been: in use, discarded, buried, uncovered, reburied, excavated, and part of an ongoing conservation effort. Their histories raise a number of questions. What is the role of memory in creating identity? What happens to memory when identity is lost? How do we create history through the preservation of memory and identity? What role does conservation play in creating or cementing identities? Do the choices that we make in preserving objects affect identity? It is clear that our choices not to preserve an object may result in a loss of identity or may reflect the creation of our own present identities rather than preserving past identities; but is it also possible that we preserve materials at the cost of memory, identity, history and historical truth? My thesis seeks to examine these questions by studying the tombstones and their relations to broader communities both locally and regionally over time.

Javier Williams

(Supervisors Neil Christie and Sarah Scott)




Visigothic period buckles: portable wealth in late antique Spain and Western Europe

The migrations period (AD 380-580) witnessed several newcomers establish themselves within Rome's old western frontiers. Under the premise that fabricating, using and even burying objects convey different messages, this research aims to explore how and if these new groups can be traced in the archaeological record, through comparative analysis of their material culture, specifically around Visigothic period buckles. Made objects imply certain conscious as well as unconscious decisions made by their makers and users, and together they can form a corpus of messages to be understood or at least conveyed. The study will use the Visigothic kingdom of Spain as a case study with which to compare to contemporary groups, including late Roman and Byzantine. I will assess the roles that these other material cultures played in use, in trading and in death; were they markers of identity, and symbols of social status to be emulated by all regardless of their social background? Or items that pointed to other types of identities such as economic, regional or religious ones?

Eleonora Zampieri

(Supervisors Sarah Scott and Neil Christie)






Propagandist town planning between the Republic and the Principate: Caesar, Pompey and the attainment of consent

My research plans are to investigate the development of the political propaganda of Caesar and Pompey at the level of evergetism, with an interdisciplinary approach aimed at an interpretation of the archaeological evidence. While Augustan propaganda (in terms of art, architecture especially) has been broadly studied by archaeologists in recent decades, the same cannot be said of that of Pompey and Caesar, two major figures of the late Republic whose historical impacts are so prominent. Although published work regarding their building projects in Rome especially exists, so far only a few archaeologists have advanced any detailed ideological interpretation of these.

Therefore, my research will also aim to read the meanings of Caesar’s and Pompey’s buildings and town planning programmes in the light of the dictators’ political propaganda, and to elaborate a theory that encompasses the whole city of Rome, and not just the individual monuments, as has previously been done. An important part of the research will take into consideration Caesar’s and Pompey’s evergetism in the provinces, in the foundation of colonies and of buildings in these and other towns, since in these areas the further freedom of experimentation might provide important and notable insights into the architecture of late Republican Rome on the eve of the Principate.

Andrea Zocchi

(Supervisors David Mattingly and Gareth Sears)













The centre of Lepcis Magna (Libya) contains some of the most iconic monuments of Roman Africa. Many buildings of its core are well studied, but my PhD will focus on its suburbs, hitherto poorly analyzed and described, in order to address important questions about Roman urbanization, economy and social practice. I consider the suburbs as inseparable from the city core if we are to comprehend fully the city’s overall development. Beside cemeteries, suburbs often contained a range of other monument types: entertainment buildings, private structures, manufacturing installations and infrastructures. Some key aspects of Roman life, that are difficult to identify within the city, are illuminated by the study of suburbs. Such studies can change our perception on the dynamics of funeral practices, productive activities, extra¬urban sanctuaries and the different choices made by authorities and communities to control and to exploit these areas, as well as providing important economic and social data. Surprisingly few suburbs have been examined extensively, but recent work on other North African towns (Meninx and Lepti Minus) has shown the potential. My analysis of the processes that led to the formation of the periphery of Lepcis will contribute to a new understanding of Roman urbanism and inform wider debate in urban history and on the nature of urban/rural boundary. My initial work on the periphery of Lepcis was my School of Specialization thesis. I participated in the Archaeological Mission of Roma Tre University at Lepcis (2006f), involving surveys related to the peri-urban zones, focusing on the city’s funerary structures. The data, knowledge and experience gained have equipped me to undertake this PhD.

My work to date has identified c.130 archaeological sites in the suburban zone of Lepcis: private structures, remains of productive/commercial activities, entertainment buildings, infrastructures associated with movement of people, goods, water supply and defense. Completing the cataloguing, mapping and analyzing of these data will be quite feasible in the timeframe of a PhD, as well as integrating information on the city’s hinterland. My research will address a series of questions: How did the suburban area develop over time? What were its most distinctive features? How was the space used socially? What was the economic significance of this area that served as a bridge between the urban space and the rich agrarian hinterland? What did the suburban zone at Lepcis share in common with and what differences existed between it and other important cities in North Africa or in other Roman provinces? This PhD will collate the data and results of several surveys and excavations, in addition to unpublished documentation from Italian and British archives (Military, Ministerial and private).


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University of Leicester, University Road,
Leicester, LE1 7RH

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