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Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies


BA Roman Archaeology Dissertation Prize

2018 Prize

The Roman Society’s dissertation prize will be awarded next in 2018. It will be awarded to the author of the best undergraduate dissertation in the field of Roman archaeology in the two years prior to the Society’s biennial Roman Archaeology Conference. The successful applicant will receive £250, a year’s subscription to Britannia and free admittance to the conference where the award is made.

Entries are invited from students at British universities, and should be submitted through and with the support of the relevant university department. Only one entry per department can be considered. The award will be judged by the Society’s Archaeology Committee.

The prize will be awarded at the Roman Archaeology Conference in Edinburgh in April 2018. Applicants should ensure a hard copy of their dissertation plus a letter of recommendation from the university reaches the Roman Society’s Secretary by 1 November 2017. Dissertations submitted for degrees awarded in academic years 2015-16 and 2016-17 may be submitted. The dissertation will be returned after judging. The successful applicant will be notified in January 2018.

Dissertations should be sent to:

Dr Fiona Haarer
Roman Society
Senate House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU

2016 Prize

Alasdair Gilmour and Catharine Edwards

The Roman Society is pleased to announce that the winner of the prize for the best undergraduate dissertation in the field of Roman Archaeology submitted in 2014/15, is Alasdair Gilmour from Exeter University.

Alasdair's dissertation was entitled: Authority and Influence in Late Iron Age Inscribed Kentish Coinage, and the prize was presented in Rome at the Roman Archaeology Conference (16-19 March). 

The dissertation examined the inscribed issues of the seven most prolific coin issuers in Kent (Dubnovellaunos, Tasciovanus, Vosenos, SAM, Eppillus, Cunobelin and Amminus) with a view to discerning the socio-political landscape of the Kentish region in the period between the invasions of Caesar and Claudius (55 BC-43AD) through the use of distribution maps. Broad analysis of the archaeological and literary evidence for Kent reveals divisions on an east/west basis and potential cultural links between East Kent and the South Cost. Discussion of the theoretical interpretations of the coins leads to the suggestion that they were primarily intended primarily as a means of payment in a socially embedded rather than market-based system, with secondary uses as propaganda tools to strengthen the issuer’s authority and as possible means of market exchange. The limitations and advantages of the Portable Antiquities Scheme are discussed and taken account of: the Weald is found to be devoid of coins due to lack of Iron Age deposition, Greater London is found to have minimal coins because of modern recovery biases, in East Kent recovery biases result in slightly higher numbers of finds but this may still be indicative of Iron Age patterns. Discussion and comparison of the distribution maps divided by issuer and by metal type reveals no new information on the issuers themselves besides potentially providing evidence for Tasciovanus and Dubnovellaunos being contemporary issuers. Distributions of different issuers tend to overlap and show internal distribution variation, which, in the context of the earlier theoretical discussion, are interpreted as showing socio-economic groupings interacting with the coin issuer rather than static territories. Comparison of coin types and material evidence confirms the east/west split, with the western area potentially being more linked to the Eastern Kingdom, and the nature of Eastern Kent’s links to the Southern Kingdom is questioned in the absence of any Southern coins other than those of Eppillus.


2014 Prize

The Roman Society is pleased to announce that the winner of the prize for the best undergraduate dissertation in the field of Roman Archaeology submitted in 2012/13, is Duncan Aldis from Royal Holloway.

Duncan's dissertation was entitled: Roman Chariot Racing in Practice, and the prize was presented in Reading at the Roman Archaeology Conference (27-30 March). 

The dissertation centred on what we can learn about racing tactics and charioteers' techniques from ancient archaeological and written sources, supported by reference to modern types of racing, both automotive and equine. It used the common elements inherent in racing of any kind and tried to determine the extent to which this can be used to represent the likely practices of the Roman chariot race. One of the conclusions was that modern day horse racing - and arguably the closest visual parallel, harness racing - offers a surprisingly unhelpful parallel for Roman chariot racing. Due primarily to the shape of the course and the focus of the action around fast, sharp turns it found that a comparison with motor racing was a much more sustainable and useful tool than expected.


2012 Prize

The Roman Society is pleased to announce that the winner of the prize for the best undergraduate dissertation in the field of Roman Archaeology submitted in 2010/11, is Mark Blagg-Newsome from the University of Reading 

Mark's dissertation, The Zooarchaeology of Calleva Atrebatum, Early Second Century to Fifth Century AD: The Ritualisation of Wild Mammal and Bird Deposits, or Pragmatic Deposition?, examined the faunal remains of wild animals and birds from the Insula IX excavations in Silchester, comparing these with other assemblages from Silchester as well as a number of other sites in southern Roman Britain. The result of this work leads to the conclusions that, while some animals such as deer, hare, goose and duck were consumed for food, the peculiar deposition practices associated with ravens and possibly badgers indicates that these animals were treated differently to other animals, possibly because they were believed to hold special religious or ritual significance. The judges felt that Mark has demonstrated an excellent capacity for spatial and statistical analysis leading to some thought-provoking insights into the uses of wild animals in Roman Britain.

The prize was presented in Frankfurt at the Roman Archaeology Conference (28 March-1 April).

2010 Prize

The Roman Society is pleased to announce that the winner of the Centenary Prize for the best undergraduate dissertation in the field of Roman Archaeology submitted in 2008/9, is Rebecca Blackburn from the University of Reading.

Rebecca Blackburn receiving her prizes (photo courtesy of Andrew Selkirk)

Rebecca's dissertation, Grooming in Roman Britain: a study of the Cyathiscomele from Silchester, examined the mainly unpublished medical or cosmetic spoons recovered during the Society of Antiquaries' excavations on the site of Calleva Atrebatum between 1890 to 1909 and currently in Reading Museum. The spoons are drawn, classified and arranged into a dated typological sequence, while Rebecca's analysis explores the spatial and social distribution of these instruments at Silchester. The judges felt that Rebecca produced an extremely interesting and valuable piece of work and the Archaeology Committee congratulates her on her achievement. The Sociey's President, Dr Andrew Burnett, presented Rebecca with her prizes (a cheque for £250 and a year's subscription to Britannia) during the opening ceremony of the eleventh Roman Archaeology Conference hosted by the University of Oxford in March 2010.

Click here to see the abstract for Rebecca's dissertation.