Birkbeck, University of London. Saturday 17th March 2018

This conference reviews the state of late antique funerary practices, on a thematic basis, from scientific examinations of skeletons and their DNA, to treatments of the deceased body, to the nature of memorial structures and how they were treated over time.



09.45-10.45 Flavio de Angelis (Sop. Arch. Di Roma) and Andrea Battistini (Sop. Arch. Di Roma) Lives from Bones: Anthropological Evaluation in the City of Rome


11.00-11.30 Alexandra Chavarria (Padova) Northern Italy

11.30-12.00 Mathew Emery (McMaster) Southern Italy (via Skype)


12.15-12.45 Rhea Brettell (Bradford) Organic residues from mortuary contexts (Britain).

12.45-13.15 Thibaut Devièse (Oxford) Colourants and dyes

Respondant: Béatrice Caseau (Paris IV) Treatment of the body: Ointments and perfumes



14.00-14.30 Zsolt Magyar (?Budapest) Mausolea in Pannonia

14.30-15.00 Chris Sparey-Green (Kent) Mausolea in NW Europe


15.15-15.45 Judit Ciurana Prast (Barcelona) Funerary Landscapes of Catalonia

15.45-16.15 Efthymios Rizos (Oxford) Christian elite burials in Anatolia / Constantinople & the cult of relics


16.30-16.45 Luke Lavan (Kent) Spolia and the archaeology of memory

16.45-17.15 Douglas Underwood (Kent) City walls and tomb destruction (Skype)

17.15-17.45 Nick Mishkovsky (Kent) City walls and tomb preservation

17.45-18.00 Conclusion.

All are Welcome. Admission 25 GBP, 10 GBP Students.

To register go to


Venue: Room 421 inside Birkbeck College, Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX. Metro: Russell Square.

Conveners: L.Lavan/M.Mulryan (Kent) T.Penn (Edin.) R,Darley (Birkbeck).

Sponsors: University of Kent, Birkbeck (University of London), J.Beale, Brill.

Posted by: lukelavan | November 1, 2017


Screenshot 2017-11-01 14.04.19



Birkbeck, University of London, London, Saturday 25th November 2017

This seminar reviews the state of funerary archaeology across the late antique world, providing an up-to-date overview of the latest discoveries in the field and in the lab, organised in terms of a series of regional portraits, from the cemeteries of Britain to the caves of Egypt.


10.00-10.30 Paul Booth (Oxford Archaeology)            Southern Britain

10.30-11.00 Sadie Watson* / Alison Telfer* (Museum of London Arch.)            London

11.00-11.30 Jake Weekes (Canterbury Arch. Trust)            Canterbury


*Western Mediterranean*

11.50-12.20 Mauro Puddu (Cambridge)             Sardinia

12.20-12.40 Alexandra Chavarria* (Padua)             Northern Italy

12.40-13.10 Kaja Stembeger (KCL)             Slovenia


*Africa and Egypt*

14:00-14:30 Anna Leone* (Durham)             Africa

14:30-15:00 Elisabeth O’Connell (British Museum)            Egypt


*East Mediterranean*

15:20-15:40 Joseph Rife# (Vanderbildt)             Greece

15:40-16:10 Sophie Moore (Brown)             Asia Minor

16.10-16.40 Ádám Bollók (HAS, Budapest)             The Near East


16:45-17.00 John Pearce (KCL)            Conclusion


The conference will be held at Birkbeck, University of London. All are welcome. Admission 15 GBP; Students / OAPs 7.5 GBP.

To register write to michaelmulryan@gmail.com before 20th November. Papers marked * = read in absentia. # = via skype.

Venue: B35 Lecture Theatre inside Birkbeck College, Malet Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX. Metro: Russell Square.

Conveners: L.Lavan/M.Mulryan (Kent) T.Penn (Edin.) R,Darley (Birkbeck).Sponsors: Birkbeck, VirtualCentreforLateAntiquity, J.Beale,  Brill.

http://www.lateantiquearchaeology.wordpress.com https://vcla.org.uk

Posted by: lukelavan | April 4, 2017

Material Culture and Writing Practice

Material Culture and Writing Practice from Antiquity to the Early Modern period: an interdisciplinary workshop

Organised by the Centre for Late Antique Archaeology, and Centre for Early Medieval and Modern Studies, University of Kent, and the Department of Archaeology, University of Reading,

Dates: Thursday 25 May to Friday 26 May 2017

Literacy is a central aspect of society from antiquity to the present day, but there is often a disconnect between the study of written texts and the attention paid to the materiality of their production and consumption. This workshop aims to address the particular qualities of the materiality of writing in the pre-modern period, an era in which the technologies of writing by hand were paramount.

Scholars researching material aspects of writing exist within diverse disciplines (Archaeology, Art-history, Calligraphy, Classics, English, History, Papyrology and Palaeography). Methods and approaches are diverse, ranging from studies of writing form and style, to technologies of writing and the wider social context of literacy and cultural transmission. Within individual disciplines, there are established traditions of scholarship that tend to constrain how the material is approached, and there is little cross-fertilization between scholars working either in different periods, or from different disciplinary perspectives. The workshop brings together scholars and experts across a wide range of periods and disciplines to foster new perspectives and to explore future directions that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. This will include a consideration of writing as a material practice, the subsequent treatment and curation of writing documents, and the relationship between writing equipment and written documents. We will provide a fresh exploration of writing practices from Antiquity to the Early Modern period and consider the interplay between practices of literacy and diverse aspects of social and cultural identities and experience. A practical calligraphy session and a trip to Canterbury Cathedral Archive are included in order to foster an awareness of the material processes and equipment of writing, enabling scholars to gain new perspectives on the historical material culture that they study.

A discounted rate of £20 for the 2-day workshop is available to Roman Society members.

For more information, and to book a place on the workshop, please see the following link:



Posted by: lukelavan | October 3, 2016

LAA Conf 8th Oct 2016 Environment & Society


Posted by: lukelavan | May 20, 2016

Late Antique Archaeology Conference – Oct 2016


Late Antique Archaeology 2016

held in conjunction with the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, Climate Change and History  Research Initiative and the Jagelonian University (Krakow)

 To be held at The Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BE (inside the Royal Academy), Saturday 8th October 2016

*Regional vegetation histories: The Mediterranean*
9.30-10.00 José Antonio López-Sáez* (Madrid)
The Western Mediterranean
10.00-10.30 K. Kouli (Athens), *L. Sadori (Rome), *A. Masi (Rome), *A. M. Mercuri (Modena)
The Central Mediterranean
10.30-11.00 Neil Roberts (Plymouth)
The Eastern Mediterranean

*Regional vegetation histories: Northern Europe*
11.15-11.45 Jessie Woodbridge (Plymouth), Ralph Fyfe (Plymouth), Neil Roberts (Plymouth)
Northern Europe
11.45-12.15 S. Rippon (Exeter), R. Fyfe (Plymouth)

*Local and regional case studies: The West*
13:15-13:45 M. Morellon, G. Sinopoli* et al.
Butrint and the Western Balkans
13:45-14:15 Duncan Keenan-Jones (Glasgow)
Portus and Latium

*Local and regional case studies: The East*
14:15-14:45 John Haldon (Princeton)
Avkat and Northern Anatolia
14:45-15:15 Gert Verstraeten*, Nils Broothaerts, *Maarten Van Loo (Leuven)
Sagalassos and South-Western Anatolia

*Mediterranean thematic surveys*
15:30-16:00 Neil Roberts (Plymouth), Inga Labuhn (Lund), Adam Izdebski (Krakow)
Climatic changes and their impact
16:00-16:30 A. Chavarria (Padua), T. Lewit (Melb.)* A. Izdebski (Krakow), T. Waliszewski (Warsaw)
Settlement trends across the Mediterranean and their impact on the environment
16:00-17:00 Mark Whittow (Oxford)
Land use, social structure and the environment in Late Antiquity

17:10-17:40 Benjamin Graham (Memphis)
Postmortem: Mediterranean woodland composition at the end of empire
17.40-17.55 Adam Izdebski (Krakow)
Environment and the end of Antiquity, or is there a link between the fall of Rome
and a major environmental catastrophe?

18:00  Close


Places are limited. To register for the conference write to M.Mulryan@kent.ac.uk before 5th October. Registration opens at 9:15. The conference begins at 9:30.
Underground: Green Park and Piccadilly

Cost (to be paid in advance): 12GBP for students and OAPs; 25GBP for others.


The time is ripe to place environmental issues at the heart of debates about Late Antiquity. Recently, a paper on the climate change during the age of Justinian, published in Nature, received coverage in all major American and European newspapers. This article is not an isolated case, yet mainstream late antique scholarship has not so far absorbed this work.
This conference will be a decisive step in making the late antique community aware of a whole range of environmental phenomena that affected Mediterranean and northern European societies at the end of Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. We will adopt a Mediterranean-wide approach and look at the period of Late Antiquity from a broader chronological perspective, that of the 1st millennium A.D. This time frame is critical to interpreting climate and vegetation data, which are most meaningful in a long-term context.
The conference itself has two aims. Firstly, it will present the rich pollen and scientific data available for the study of the first millennium AD in different regions. Secondly, it will develop and reinforce the environmental perspective on Late Antiquity. The focus on the whole Mediterranean (with its hinterland in Northern Europe) will correct a bias towards the East seen in recent studies on the environmental history of Late Antiquity. The conference will interest not only scholars of the 4th to 7th c., but also early medievalists and students of earlier Graeco-Roman Antiquity.

This conference is generously supported by

Generously supported by Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, John Beale & Brill Academic Publishers .
Convener: Adam Izdebski, Jagiellonian University in Krakow



Posted by: lukelavan | April 17, 2014

LAA2014 Conference: London 07-06-2014

Late Antique Archaeology 2014 Poster-02Med

Posted by: lukelavan | November 13, 2013

Visualising Late Antiquity Website Launched

I am pleased to announce the opening of the following website, on the visual reconstruction of late antiquity.


This is a research project of the University of Kent, supported by the Leverhulme Trust, undertaken by 2 academics, 5 doctoral students and 2 artists.

Our gallery is now live, with a suite of images reconstructing the visit of Augustine to Ostia in A.D. 387 as described in Confessions book IX.
It will be updated with scenes of everyday life over the next six months.

Posted by: lukelavan | July 24, 2012

Job Vacancies: LAA Assistant; Ostia Assistant (part time)

Editorial Assistant, Late Antique Archaeology

Location          University of Kent, Canterbury, UK

Contract Type Fixed Term

Salary Type     Pro Rata

Salary Level     15503 – 15932 GBP (part-time contract, so half this amount per annum)

Closing date:    5 Aug 2012

This job provides a means of supporting a junior scholar researching part-time who would like to invest in publication in the Late Antique Archaeology series. With a good first degree in History or Archaeology, or equivalent professional experience, you will have good knowledge of academic referencing and abbreviation. Experience of organising conferences and working with publishers are essential to the role. In addition, it is critical that the successful candidate has the demonstrable ability to communicate clearly in written prose and orally with authors, publishers and conference delegates.

Closing date for applications: 5 August 2012

Interviews are to be held: 13 August 2012

For full details of the post and how to apply, see job reference HUM0294 on http://jobs.kent.ac.uk/fe/tpl_kent01.asp

For more information on the Centre for Late Antique Archaeology, University of Kent see



Archive Assistant: Late Antique Ostia Project

Location          University of Kent, Canterbury, Uk

Contract Type Fixed Term

Salary Type     Pro Rata

Salary Level     15503 – 15932 GBP (part-time contract, so half this amount per annum)

Closing date:    5 Aug 2012

This job, permitted by a donation, is being created in order to support the work of Dr Luke Lavan with digitising and data entry work, in preparing the excavations of Ostia, port of Rome for publication. With a GCSE in English or equivalent professional experience, you will have experience of digitising archaeological plans to a publication standard. Experience of managing an archaeological archive and knowledge of Harris Matrix and Archaeological reports are essential to the role. In addition, it is critical that the successful candidate has full proficiency in Adobe Illustrator.

Closing date for applications: 5 August 2012

Interviews are to be held: 13 August 2012

For full details of the post and how to apply, see job reference HUM0295 on http://jobs.kent.ac.uk/fe/tpl_kent01.asp

For more information on the Centre for Late Antique Archaeology, University of Kent see


Posted by: lukelavan | June 16, 2011

Late Antique Ostia 2011 – Field Staff Required

Late Antique Ostia Project 11th-25th September 2011 – Field Staff Required

 The University of Kent is carrying out a final season of excavation and survey in the central area of Ostia, Port of Rome, directed by Luke Lavan, as part of the Kent-Berlin Ostia Project. Work focuses on the survey, cleaning and excavation of a public square, an exedra of shops and a nymphaeum: all of late Roman date. We have also studied the transformation of a bath palaestra into a second public square, including the erection of a very late temple. Our site contains early medieval archaeology (house remains and bone dumps), as well as mid-Roman rubbish deposits. The late antique layers are very thin and challenging to excavate.

*Volunteer site assistants*

Experienced diggers of 18 years or over are welcome to apply to join our team, on payment of 100 GBP per week for field participation. This payment would cover accommodation, breakfast and lunch. Graduate students studying late antique archaeology would be especially welcome.

Because of the exceptionally high cost of staying in Rome, accommodation will be in tents in a well-equipped modern campsite. If you are interested in applying for a place please send your CV pasted into an email (not in attachment) to the following email (l.a.lavan at kent.ac.uk). The closing date is Friday 30th June.

Posted by: lukelavan | March 29, 2011

Visualisation of the Late Antique City: Project Begins

(Late Roman Law Court, reconstructed by Archaeological Service of Alcala de Henares, in conjunction with the project)

A new archaeological research project at the University will reconstruct urban life in cities such as Constantinople during a period of history that has long remained hidden from view.

Reconstructions of daily life in ancient Roman cities such as Pompeii are plentiful, thanks to centuries of archaeological research. But that is not the case for the later Roman or ‘late antique’ period (AD 300-650) that saw the long transition from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages.

This is set to change now, thanks to three-year project that will see the University’s Dr Luke Lavan, a lecturer in archaeology[1], leading a team studying artwork, excavated artefacts and the ruins of ancient cities from around the Mediterranean. The project, ‘Visualising the Late Antique City’, is being funded by a £180k Research Project Grant from the Leverhulme Trust. Although Constantinople is now obscured by modern development within what is now Istanbul, other sites in Turkey, Tunisia, and Italy are expected to reveal much of the urban landscape of the period.

‘Few films or TV programmes seek to visualize everyday life in late antiquity. Most people simply cannot imagine the Mediterranean cities of this period, such as Carthage as known to Augustine, Jerusalem as known to Mohammed, or Constantinople as known to Justinian,’ said Dr Lavan.

‘This was a critical period in the development of European civilization, yet it is remarkable how little is known about the daily rhythms of city life. When most people close their eyes they can probably imagine urban life from earlier periods, in places like Rome or Pompeii, but that is not the case for late antiquity.

‘We’ll be looking particularly at how people made use of the urban public space. We hope to reconstruct not just architecture, but a more vivid image of daily life in Constantinople, with lawyers, clergy, urchins and prostitutes going about their business.’

Dr Lavan, of the Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies[2] at the University’s School of European Culture and Languages[3], said that in many cases excavations of late antique sites revealed well-preserved evidence. This is because the period formed the final layer on most sites before they were abandoned.

‘Buildings often survive intact to their roof-line, with internal fittings such as ovens, cupboards and shop-counters. Statue bases can also survive in situ on public squares, while pavement markings, along with graffiti and minor official notices, reveal the locations of market stalls or political meetings,’ he added.

It is expected that the research, which will published as both scholarly tome and an illustrated catalogue, will help film-makers, popular authors and museums produce better reconstructions of city life in late antiquity, and thus make the period more accessible to a wider public.

Contact: pressoffice@kent.ac.uk [4]

Story published at 3:08pm 11 March 2011


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