Zoe Fox: I had an extremely productive research trip to Rome in the summer of 2023 thanks to my funding from the Donald Atkinson Fund. My PhD thesis research focuses on a comparison of urban planning processes in Augustan and Fascist Rome, and depends heavily upon archival evidence. Thus, I spent three weeks carrying out archival research at Archivio Storico Capitolino, along with the archives of Museo di Roma and Istituto Nazionale di Studi Romani. During that time, I was able to further my understanding of the bureaucracy involved in sanitation, eviction, and demolition in Fascist Rome, as well as develop a picture of Fascist scholarly reception of the Augustan urban program in the 1930s. In doing so, I gathered all of the archival material that I needed in order to complete the second section of my PhD thesis in Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Birmingham. I am grateful to the Roman Society for enabling me to carry out this research, which has already greatly enriched my project.
Fasti Online: read the report here.
Melissa Kays: conference report
Michael Given: ‘City and Cemetery’: Kourion’s Amathous Gate Cemetery, Cyprus
Kourion’s Amathous Gate Cemetery on the south coast of Cyprus is notable for the outstanding preservation of its human remains, a large and varied assemblage of material culture, and evidence for funerary and commemorative practices which is unparalleled on Cyprus. It has a long biography of 800 years of changing burial practices, from the Hellenistic to the early Byzantine period. Following excavations by Danielle A. Parks between 1995 and 2000, an international team of specialists has been working on the full publication. Thanks to support from the Donald Atkinson Fund of the Society for Promotion of Roman Studies, we were able to finalise the artefact catalogue plates and the stratigraphic analysis, and the two volumes of the final publication have been submitted to the American Schools of Oriental Research.
Craig Harvey: Triumph and Opulence on the Edge of Empire: The Publication of the Hauarra Fort Frescoes
Excavation in the Roman fort at Hauarra (modern Humayma, Jordan) recovered the fragmentary remains of several wall paintings that represent a significant contribution to the study of Roman-period wall paintings in this frontier region and from military contexts in general. These fragments of painted plaster display a range of figural, vegetal, and geometric motifs, including numerous realistic depictions of marble veneering and a figural scene that likely depicts a Roman triumphal procession. The generous grant provided by the Donald Atkinson Fund helped to defray the costs associated with publishing these fragments of painted plaster in full colour, which will assist with their full appreciation and further study. These paintings will appear in the third volume of the site’s final report, Humayma Excavation Project, 3: The Roman Fort, edited by John Peter Oleson.
Michael J Curtis: Recording and mapping the secondary harbours on Crete
Whilst cut short by the closure of all educational institutions in Greece due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my three weeks visit to Rethymno, Crete, in March 2020 was very productive. The original plan was to hold a conference and workshops on coastal archaeology on the island that was open to members of the public. Initial proposals for this event were well received and during my stay we were able to further develop the initial concept and launch the event.
Emma Durham: Hoarding and deposition in Europe from later prehistory to the medieval period – finds in context
The conference was held at King’s College, The Strand, London from 12–14 June 2019. It was a joint venture between Instrumentum (the Europe-wide finds group), the Roman Finds Group, Later Prehistoric Finds Group and Finds Research Group. Not only was this the first time that an Instrumentum meeting was held in Britain, but it was the first joint meeting for all three British finds groups.
Tyler Franconi: Frontier Economies in the Roman World
The conference Frontier Economies in the Roman World took place at All Souls College, University of Oxford on 19-20 September 2019. Eighteen speakers from eight countries presented their research on different economic aspects of frontier economic life from around the Roman Empire, with case studies reaching from Scotland to India and Hungary to the Sahara. The conference had roughly 50 attendees each day, and conversation was lively throughout. The proceedings of the conference are currently being edited for publication in the Oxford University Press Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy series, and will provide a landmark study in explicit economic investigation of Roman frontier societies.
Eleanor Green: Genetic Legacies of Roman Horses
The horse was a very important animal during the Roman Period, the mounted guard were a prestigious and integral part of the Roman Army. Scholars suspect there was a strict selection process for Cavalry horses. Prefered attributes could relate to the sex or breed of the horses, however anatomical analysis of archaeological horse remains cannot easily distinguish either of these characteristics. We propose to use ancient DNA to investigate differences in genetic makeup and biological sex from Roman horse samples from Military (Malton) and non-Military (Heslington East) sites. By sequencing the DNA of military and non-military horses from the same region, we have the opportunity to investigate whether particular traits, which are very difficult to identify zooarchaeologically, are associated with military animals; ultimately enabling a discussion around animal recruitment in Roman Yorkshire.
Allison Kidd: The Late Antique Urban Landscape: Continuity, Transformation, and Innovation at the Juncture of the Classical and the Early Medieval
Thanks to the generous grant from the Donald Atkinson Fund, an interdisciplinary group of researchers were brought together on 21-22 March 2019 at The University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities for the research symposium The Late Antique Urban Landscape: Continuity, Transformation, and Innovation at the Juncture of the Classical and the Early Medieval. Support provided by The Roman Society was invaluable in helping to defray the cost of travel and accommodation of presenters from Belgium, Denmark, and Italy. The symposium critically engaged with methodological issues concerning continuity, transformation, and innovation within the late antique urban milieu in order to provide a more coherent narrative of Roman urbanism through to the end of antiquity as well as its influence on subsequent Byzantine and Islamic civilisations. Through presenters’ examination of classical ideals, economic constraints, and contemporary socio-political and religious exigencies, this symposium’s resulting discourse did much to further shift our understanding of late Roman cities from pejorative connotations of decline and degradation. While some cities did decline, we are now better positioned to accept a more neutral, if not positive view of transformation, intentionality, and creativity for other cities during this time. This event has also stimulated continued engagement in this topic through the publication of select papers from the symposium in a special edition journal and the submission of photographs, plans, and data to an open-access database and photo archive, https://oala.hca.ed.ac.uk.
Annalisa Marzano: Casa della Regina Carolina Project at Pompeii
Niccolò Mugnai: Brickwork Architecture and Ornament in Ostia and Isola Sacra: Production, Display, and Identity
This pilot-project aimed to start a study of Roman public, private, and funerary buildings with brick-decorated façades, located at the sites of Ostia Antica and the necropolis of Portus at the Isola Sacra (second and third centuries AD).
Moira M Watson: Alternative Reconstruction of a Roman Cavalry Saddle
Report and Images
The project investigated an alternative construction of a Roman saddle compared to the wooden structure proposed by Peter Connolly in 1985. The Spanish vaquero style was adopted using thatching straw and linen construction with a lanolin rich, long staple fleece (Cotswold Lion) as stuffing and water proofing. The structure was tested using the mechanical horse at the University Centre Sparsholt with a male volunteer rider. The saddle was found to conform to the horse's back better than the wooden tree Connolly saddle. The alternative construction highlighted the need for the bronze reinforcing "stiffeners" for the front and rear horns to provide a more secure seat for the rider.
Matthew Cobb: Rethinking Globalisation in the Ancient World
A generous grant of £1000 from the Donald Atkinson fund has helped support the attendance of four PhD and early careers scholars who delivered papers at the Re-Thinking Globalisation in the Ancient World conference – held on Lampeter Campus (University of Wales Trinity Saint David), between 8 to 10 May, 2018. The support provided by the Donald Atkinson fund was invaluable in helping to defray the travel and accommodation of scholars coming from institutions based in North America, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. This conference explored methodological issues relating to the theme of ‘globalisation’ and its application to the ancient world. Topics included an exploration of local identities in the ‘global world’ of the Roman Empire, consideration of concepts like ‘Mediterannisation’ and ‘Oikoumenisation’, and an examination of interactions and cultural exchanges between the Roman world, South Asia and China.
Maureen Carroll & Tracy Prowse: Living and Dying on the Roman Imperial Estate at Vagnari: the ceramic evidence
João Fonte: The Roman conquest of Dacia: ground-truthing the new airborne LiDAR evidence
Amanda Harwood: Chichester Roman Week
Thanks to the support of the Roman Society and the Roman research Trust, Roman Week 2018 delivered on its aim to engage more people with the fascinating heritage of the Chichester District. Roman Week consisted of small and large scale activities and events that took part in conjunction with other heritage organisations and businesses around the city and wider district. These activities were varied to ensure that there was something for everyone. The highlight of the week was a Roman re-enactment. The day consisted of a range of family friendly activities involving large scale interactive demonstrations and static displays highlighting aspects of civilian life. The event was attended by more than 2,100 people including locals and visitors to the city. The event offered a unique opportunity to see history come to life, to ask questions of a Roman Medicus, for children to fight a gladiator and to watch the military in training. This kind of interactive display has not taken part in Chichester for many years and the funding we received ensured that the event was free to the public, ensuring that everyone was able to come along and take part in some way: http://www.thenovium.org/romanweek
Stephen Upex: Geophysical Survey undertaken at the Roman Town of Durobrivae (North Cambridgeshire)
Margaret Ward: Recording evidence of Samian supplies to Britain
This project, led by an independent samian specialist based in northern England, records evidence for samian supplies to Britain, aids research and enables the updating, management and maintenance of the associated archive. Since the mid-1980s, this specialist has developed computerised databases of samian assemblages from excavations: this project facilitates the analysis of evidence for samian supplies to northern and western Britain in particular. Forthcoming publication will illuminate anomalies in supply patterns. The project is ensuring survival of the archive for posterity: the work of this one specialist represents only part of a process which must be continued by future researchers. There is considerable concern for the future of samian studies in the United Kingdom. In providing opportunities to assist one specialist, this project also provides potential for the next generation to engage with samian studies – a discipline which is in sore need of a succession strategy. Continuation of this work owes much to this generous grant from The Audrey Barrie Brown Memorial Fund.
Mantha Zarmakoupi: Delos and Rheneia Underwater Survey 2018
Julian Hill: Consuming Roman London: from the invasion to the Harianic fire.
Recent research by MOLA and the University of Reading, supported by the Roman Research Trust, has been exploring the potential of the Museum of London Archaeological Archive to produce more robust and complex synthetic narratives of Londinum’s character and development. A pilot study of 18 sites indicates the high potential of this resource and has produced strong evidence for variation in consumption across the city and over time through the statistical analysis of evidence for diet and dress. Further work has addressed the state and usability of the archive with the aim of designing a major new research project to explore these issues further
Andrew Garner, Tim Young: Metalworking in a Legionary Fortress
Funds were awarded to support archaeometallurgical analysis on the remains of Roman metalworking activities, discovered in the 2007-10 Priory Field excavations in Caerleon (UCL/Cardiff University). These relate to the use of the site before and during the life of the legionary warehouse building occupying this particular part of the legionary fortress of Isca. A range of methods including Scanning Electron Microscopy, X-ray Fluorescence and chemical analyses were used by the archaeometallurgical specialist, Dr Tim Young. Information on production technologies, sourcing of raw materials, and other aspects of the assemblage was recovered, shedding light on the methods of legionary metalworkers, particularly at the time of the construction of the fortress in the late 1st Century AD.
Craig Harvey: Small Finds with Big Potential: Final Preparation for the Publication of the Military Camp Wall Paintings and a Fourth Century Purse Hoard from Humayma, Jordan
Thanks to the generosity of the Roman Society, I was able to complete the necessary research for the publication of two groups of materials: fragmentary wall frescoes from the Roman fort at Humayma in southern Jordan and a small 4th century bronze coin hoard found outside the Humayma fort. This project required the documentation and analysis of these objects, which are stored in Amman. Their publication will provide valuable insight into the occupation of this settlement during the Roman period, and the Roman Society’s support in making their publication possible is greatly appreciated.
Candace Rice - Upper Sabina Tiberina Project: 2017 Season at the Villa Romana di Vacone
The 2017 season of the Upper Sabina Tiberina Project focused on the excavation, conservation and documentation of the Roman villa at Vacone. The villa is a late-Republican to mid-Imperial multi-phase site with an elaborately decorated residential area and an extensive oil and wine production zone. Funding from the Roman Society contributed especially to our team of conservators from the UK, Italy, Canada, and the United States who worked on the conservation and digital reconstruction of the mosaics and frescoes from the villa for both scientific study as well as public outreach.
Stephen Rippon - Ipplepen 2017
A programme of survey and excavations at Dainton Elms Cross in Ipplepen, Devon, is exploring a complex Iron Age, Romano-British and early medieval site. The work in 2017, generously supported by the Roman Research Trust, included the excavation of an early Romano-British roundhouse, four-post granary, and two wells at the south-western edge of the site. In addition to University of Exeter students, volunteers contributed 40 week’s work, the Visitor centre welcomed 552 guests and the Open Day attracted 894 visitors.
Margaret Andrews - The Settecamini Archaeological Project
Paul Roberts, Dominic Rathbone, Stephen Kay, Elena Pomar - Roman villa at Santa Maria della Strada Matrice
Mantha Zarmakoupi - Delos and Rheneia Underwater Survey 2017
Martin Millett - Thwing, Rudston and the Roman-Period Exploitation of the Yorkshire Wolds
Maureen Carroll - Hellenistic villa and Roman vicus at Vagnari
Lacey Wallace - Goodnestone Survey
Steven Willis - Pottery finds from Hatcliffe Top/the Central Wolds Archaeological Research Project
Matthew Cobb - Celtic Classics conference report
A generous grant of £500 from the Donald Atkinson fund has helped support a panel entitled “The Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity”, held at the 9th Celtic Conference in Classics, University College Dublin, June 22–25, 2016. This panel explored the economic and cultural impact of this trade on the Graeco-Roman world, as well as Graeco-Roman impact on eastern lands, most notably India. The grant from the Donald Atkinson fund was used to help defray the cost of those participating in the panel, including a range of PhD, early-career and established academics from institutions across the globe.
Maureen Carroll - Roman Window Glass from Vagnari Roman Imperial Estate
Niccolo Mugnai - Principles of Romano-African Architecture: Unorthodoxy, Variation, and Reinvention in Mauretania Tingitana (Morocco)
A generous grant of £1,500 was provided by the Roman Society (Donald Atkinson Fund) in support of the project “Principles of Romano-African Architecture: Unorthodoxy, Variation, and Reinvention in Mauretania Tingitana (Morocco)”. The grant was used to carry out two seasons of fieldwork at the site of Volubilis in May and September 2016, which will be followed by another season in May/June 2017. Through recording and analysis of columns from local private and public buildings, the aim of this research was to investigate how canonical design principles were adapted and reinterpreted in this province at the fringes of the Roman world.
Hannah O'Regan - Doghole Cave, Cumbria post exavation analysis
Steve Rippon - Ipplepen excavation report
A programme of survey and excavations at Dainton Elms Cross in Ipplepen, Devon, is exploring a complex Iron Age, Romano-British and early medieval site. The work in 2016, generously supported by the Roman Research Trust, included the excavation of a sequence of Middle to Late Iron Age and Romano-British occupation in the north-western part of the settlement. In addition to University of Exeter students, volunteers contributed 35 week’s work, while the Open Day attracted 1160 visitors, and project blog had 10,056 views.
Andrew Gardner - Caerleon Legionary Fortress research project report
Victoria Leonard - conference report
Friends of Active Archaeology - Broughton: environmental sample analysis and summary of work
Stephen Rippon & Danielle Wootton - Ipplepen
A programme of survey and excavations at Dainton Elms Cross in Ipplepen, Devon, is exploring a complex Iron Age, Romano-British and early medieval site. The work in 2015, generously supported by the Roman Research Trust, included the excavation of further graves within a cemetery that is now radiocarbon dated to the early medieval period, the sectioning of the Roman road, and an evaluation trench across a set of geophysical anomalies that were revealed to date from the Iron Age and Roman periods and included a probable well. In addition to University of Exeter students, 49 volunteers took part, while the Open Day attracted 930 visitors, and project blog had 4,498 views.
Mantha Zarmakoupi - Delos: fieldwork report