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 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: [4]

Story published at 3:08pm 11 March 2011

Posted by: lukelavan | March 1, 2011

Late Antique City Lectures : Canterbury 10-12/03/2011

Thursday 10th March

( 5.15 p.m., Cornwallis NW Seminar Room 8 )

Peter Talloen (Kent) The Christianization of Pisidia.


Saturday 12th March

(11am-1pm Cornwallis Building Seminar Room 6)

Nikos Tsivikis (Crete) The Late Antique Excavations at Messene, Greece

Luke Lavan (Kent) The Late Antique Ostia Project

All lectures will be held on the Canterbury Campus of the University of Kent.


Posted by: lukelavan | February 15, 2011

Job Advert: Late Antique Ostia Digitisation Assistant


*The Role*
This job, permitted by a donation, is being created in order to remove
the burden of digitising and data entry from the work of Dr Luke Lavan
in preparing the late antique excavations of Ostia, port of Rome for

The post holder will be responsible for improving the excavation archive
from the Late Antique Ostia Project 2008-210 by digitising plans,
inputting data into the archive, renaming files, ensuring efficient
backup of data. The post holder will work closely with Dr Luke Lavan.

The Digitization Assistant will: i) Scan plans from paper format into
TIFF files. ii) Digitise plans of excavations. iii) Retype context
sheets and registers into the project database. iv) Rename photographic
files. v) Back up copies of the data.

*The Person*
Educated to A-Level standard or equivalent with experience of digitising
archaeological plans for publication, you will have experience of
managing an archaeological archive and of data entry. Previous
experience of using Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Word and email are
essential as is the ability to use the internet as a research tool and
spreadsheets to monitor and track workflows.

*The Department*
Classical and Archaeological Studies at Kent is one of ten departments
within a large School including over 60 academic staff. The current
full-time establishment in Classical and Archaeological Studies consists
of thirteen academic members: seven archaeologists, three ancient
historians, three classical literature specialists, two post doctoral
fellows (epigraphy and heritage management) plus a dedicated
administrator and a 0.5 archaeological technician. The interests of the
Classics and Ancient History staff range from Minoan Crete and
Prehistoric Europe to Late Antiquity, encompassing a full range of
themes, from cities and political life to medicine and dress.

*Further Information*
Closing date for applications: 1st March 2011
Interviews are to be held: W/C 7th March

Please see the links below to view the full job description and also to
apply for this post (please do not send your application directly to the
department). How to apply – for this type of position you will be
required to complete the on line application process. Please note we do
not accept CVs for this post.

For queries contact:
Dr Luke Lavan, Email:

*Full Job Description and application details*

search for the reference “HUM0166”

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.

Posted by: lukelavan | November 7, 2010

Job Advert: Graduate Teaching Assistant

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Centre for Late Antique Archaeology,
University of Kent

The University of Kent wishes to appoint a 12 month graduate teaching assistant beginning January 2010, to join the Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies to teach 6 hours per week during term on pre-prepared undergraduate courses, relating to Late Antique Archaeology, the Late Antique City and Everyday Life in the Roman Empire. For the department, see

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, on Ostia, Port of Rome, and on the Saxon Shore Forts. The GTA would be enrolled in the Centre and be invited to participate in these activities. For the centre see

Duration: Full-time 12 months
Start date: January 2011

Entry Requirements
Applicants should have some experience of teaching and an established interest in late antiquity or Roman cities. A good MA degree or equivalent is required. International candidates are welcome. Knowledge of one or more modern European languages (French, German and Italian) would be an advantage. Candidates must submit a successful PhD application, pertinent to Late Antique Archaeology or other work of the Centre.

A tax-free scholarship of 12,500 GBP will be offered, to cover fees for one year at Home/EU level of 3,800 GBP and to provide a living allowance of 8,700 GBP. Further postgraduate scholarships are available within SECL, which the successful candidate would be invited to apply for.

Application Process
Applications should consist of a CV, covering letter and research proposal (one side of A4) and an example of written work, made by email to postgraduate secretary Juliette Ashby: To apply on-line for the PhD visit The deadline for submissions is 30th November 2010. Selection will be based on written submissions, with the option of interview by telephone / email.

For queries contact:
Dr Luke Lavan,
Tel: 01227769665
Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies,
SECL, Cornwallis North West,
University of Kent,
Kent CT2 7NF

Posted by: lukelavan | June 9, 2010

Visualising Late Antiquity Workshop 2

Visualising Late Antiquity Workshop 2
Shops in Late Antiquity

A one day workshop of the Universities of Kent and London (King’s College) to be held at King’s College, London on Saturday June 26th.

11.00-11.30 Ardle MacMahon (OU) Sources for shop interiors: the early empire and late antiquity compared.
11.45-12.30 Luke Lavan (Kent) Commercial structures in Late Antiquity

14.00-14.45 Luke Lavan (Kent) Shop interiors and the shopping experience
14.45-15.30 Elias Khamis (Oxford) The shops of Scythopolis

16.00-16.30 Jon Conyard (Comitatus) Reconstructing workshops practical issues
16.30-17.00 Conclusion

Room details: Room B6, at King’s College (Strand Campus), the Strand, London, WC2R 2LS. Tube station: Temple.

Location details:

Entrance is free.

Posted by: lukelavan | January 20, 2010

Conference LAA 2010



King’s College, London, Friday 12th to Saturday 13th March 2010

Studies of the late antique economy often stress sea-borne interregional trade as a motor of prosperity. But why were inland regions able to flower at this time? Was wealth generated mainly by local production and exchange? How important was this to the economy as a whole?

FRIDAY 12TH MARCH (in the Great Hall)

Theoretical Papers

14.00-14.40 Mark Whittow (Oxford)

How much trade was local, regional and inter-regional? Comparative perspectives

14.40-15.20 Peter Sarris (Cambridge)

Rural production dynamics: autarchy, tax and forms of exchange, seen from papyri.

16.00-16.40 A. Macmahon (OU) and L. Lavan (Kent)

Specialisation in artisanal production: what does it mean for local exchange?


SATURDAY 13TH MARCH (in Safra Lecture Theatre)

Prosperity in Inland Regions (forms of production )

10.40-11.10 Kim Bowes (Cornell) Spain and Gaul.

11.10-11.40 Emanuele Vaccaro (Cambridge) Interior Sicily.

 11.50-12.20 Lynda Mulvin (Dublin) Pannonia.

12.20-12.50 Elizabeth Fentress (UCL) Numidia.

14.00-14.30 David Mattingly (Leicester) Garamantia.

14.30-15.00 Hannelore Van Haeverbeke (Burdur) Pisidia and Lacaonia.


Regional exchange (forms of consumption)

15.00-15.30 Sauro Gelichi (Venice) Northern Italy  

16.10-16.40 Michel Bonifay (Aix en Provence) Africa

16.50-17.20 Jeroen Poblome (KULeuven)  Asia Minor

17.20-18.00 Agnes Vokaer (ULB) The Near East

Entrance is free, though places are limited. To reserve a place please email Held at the Strand Campus, King’s College London. Location details: Temple Tube station. For flights try Cheap UK train tickets can be obtained from Ask for GroupSave4 tickets: 4 people for the price of 2. Organised by the University of Kent (Centre for Late Antique Archaeology) and King’s College London (Centre for Hellenic Studies Dept of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies) 

Generously supported by Museum Selection and Brill Academic Publishers   

Posted by: lukelavan | July 29, 2009

Late Antique Economy: conference dates for 2010

The conference dates for Late Antique Archaeology 2010 are now available. We will meet at King’s College London, on the Strand, on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th March 2010. The theme of the conference will be focused on regional trade and self-sufficency in late antiquity, a counter-balance to current studies of the economy which have stressed interegional trade as a source of prosperity in this period. More details soon

Posted by: lukelavan | June 17, 2009

Postscript on Visualisation Conference

For those of you who didnt get to London last week – Caroline Lawrence has posted her paper on law courts, with images of the scenes from ‘Roman Mysteries’ on her blog

It is a good resume of law court in the late republic and early empire with much of direct relevance to Late Antiquity.

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