Posted by: lukelavan | December 16, 2010

Three PhD Scholarships: The Visualisation of the Late Antique City

The Visualisation of the Late Antique City
3 Full PhD Scholarships

Thanks to a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, the University of Kent is able to offer three full 3-year PhD scholarships beginning May 2011, on The Visualisation of the Late Antique City, as part of a research project led by Dr Luke Lavan and Dr Ellen Swift. Our research will aim to establish an academic basis for reconstructions of everyday life in Mediterranean cities of this period, through both synthetic writing and detailed case studies of specific archaeological sites.

The three doctorates will consider

i) Everyday Architectural Decoration in the Late Antique City
ii) Urban Artefact Assemblages in Late Antiquity
iii) Dress and Personal Appearance in Late Antiquity

For details of the topics see the bottom of this message

All three doctorates will be jointly supervised by LL and ES. Sources will be both archaeological, artistic and textual, and will be used to build a shared database on everyday life, which will be used by LL and ES in conjunction with a historical illustrator to produce colour images of urban scenes in selected cities. On completion of the project, the doctoral theses will be prepared for publication in a monograph series and will also contribute to a collective volume on Everyday Life in the Late Antique City.

The Centre for Late Antique Archaeology is an active research hub, with easy access to London research libraries, now 50 minutes away by train. It produces its own annual, Late Antique Archaeology, holds frequent international conferences and is engaged in a number of related field projects, at Ostia, Port of Rome, and on the Saxon Shore Forts. We enjoy good relationships with heritage practitioners of museum display, re-enactment and site interpretation for the late antique period. See

The Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies is a vibrant community, which under Professor Ray Laurence is experiencing a period of expansion. It is committed to the interdisciplinary study of the ancient world and its neighbours, from Minoan to Late Antique times. It has special interests pertinent to the project in Roman cities, Roman social life and the material culture of the Roman world, particularly ceramics, dress accessories and medical tools. It collaborates with local units and archaeological groups who often focus on the late antique to Anglo-Saxon transition. See

Duration: Full-time 3 years
Start date: 1st May 2011

Entry Requirements
Applicants should have a first class or 2i degree or equivalent and an established interest in late antique archaeology. International candidates are welcome. An MA degree (merit or distinction) would be an advantage, as would practical experience of archaeological fieldwork / museums, and knowledge of one or more modern European languages (French, German and Italian). A commitment to meeting deadlines and working within a team is essential, as the project will only achieve its full potential if outputs are delivered on time and a collaborative ethos is maintained.

A tax-free scholarship will be provided for three years, to cover fees for at Home/EU level and to provide a living allowance of 13,000 GBP. Research expenses to cover foreign travel for the project will also be covered.

Application Process
Applications for the scholarships should consist of a CV, covering letter and an example of written work, made by email to postgraduate secretary Juliette Ashby: An application must also be made for the degree programme on-line at No research proposal is required but all application materials (via email or on-line) must make clear which of the above doctorates is being applied for. Candidates are welcome to apply for more than one topic, but must specify an order of preference. A copy of the project specification with full details of the doctoral topics can be viewed at

The deadline for submissions is 20th February 2011. Selection will be based on written submissions, with the option of interview by telephone / email.

For queries contact:
Dr Luke Lavan,
Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies,
SECL, Cornwallis North West,
University of Kent,
Kent CT2 7NF


PHD 1  ‘Dress and Personal Appearance in Urban Settings’

This thesis puts people centre-stage in our reconstructions of cities. Whilst the dress of upper social classes is well-known, that of the middling and lower classes is not, and we have little idea of regional variations in dress. Similarly, hairstyles or beards from court are well-studied, whilst the personal appearance of shopkeepers, beggars, children and slaves is somewhat neglected. Indeed, recent reconstructions of dress have produced idealised depictions based on mosaics, manuscripts and statues, of people looking their  best. We have little idea of how clothes aged, were repaired, or how they might vary seasonally. To make progress we need to understand the nature of personal representation in late antiquity. We also need to consider often neglect textiles, especially from newly-excavated Egyptian graves, along with evidence from patristic texts and depictions, to reveal seasonality, wear and repair in dress, alongside evidence of bodily modification, such as piercings or tattoos. This material could provide a basis for filling city reconstructions with credible ordinary people.

PHD 2  ‘Everyday Architectural Decoration in the Late Antique City’

Although the decoration of monumental structures, especially churches, is relatively well-synthesised, this is not true of street porticoes, shops, workshops, and ordinary houses. In order to produce convincing urban images, we need to consider not only major public structures, but also in-between spaces. It is also necessary to have an idea of how such decoration, which might not attract as great an investment as public buildings, aged, weathered, and was repaired. The art work of research associate SR has made extensive use of such ideas. However, the empirical data to support this academically has not been collected. The thesis will compile a gazetteer of dated examples of decoration for porticoes, modest houses, shops, workshops and small churches, with a thematic chapter on each, illustrated by a case study. The study will also consider evidence for light fittings, shutters, textile hangings etc, which might have modified the appearance of structures. The student will be trained in the recognition of decorative traces by SR and ES, before joining LL in visits to sites selected for reconstruction.

PHD 3  ‘Urban Artefact Assemblages’

This thesis will study the everyday arrangement and use of artefacts within selected urban settings, especially drawing on the rich occupation deposits revealed by Eastern excavations, which have had little synthetic or critical treatment. The student will reconstruct theoretical groups of objects for shops, houses and ordinary churches, and try to establish the functional connections between objects (their use). This will allow us to ‘furnish’ architectural illustrations and understand behaviour in each setting. The study will consider object groups from published occupation deposits, as well as those in depictions, inventories, and groups hypothesised from functional artefact studies. These sources will be both analysed on their own terms and compared for their value for studying object use in churches, houses and shops. Although the topic seems vast, the sources limit inquiry: for shops, we can so far only reconstruct object groups for restaurants, metal workshops, glassblowers and cloth-dyers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: