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Research Groningen Institute of Archaeology Research The impact of Roman imperialism in the West

The project

Rural landscape in Guarda
A rural landscape in Guarda, Beira Alta.

The Roman conquest of the Mediterranean areas and beyond tied together a wild variety of landscapes and pre-existing polities. It was accompanied by incisive changes in the population, socio-political organization, culture and economy between the Iron Age and the Roman imperial period. Both the character and the impact of the Roman expansion are currently hotly debated. New scholarship sheds a different light on the early phases of Roman expansion in the Italian peninsula. An important question is how these new insights relate to developments in other geographical areas and time periods. This is elemental for better understanding Mediterranean-wide processes at hand in chronological, geographical and, not the least, causal terms. With good comparative data, the evidence from the far west of the Roman empire may become especially relevant to the newly developing hypotheses about early Roman imperialism. As yet, however, transnational comparative analysis is hampered by different national research traditions and (field) methodologies.

Students during field survey
Students during field survey in Fronteira, Alto Alentejo.

Within Portugal, the project includes two collaborative field work projects, one in Alto Alentejo with André Carneiro and MoĢnica Rolo of the University of Évora, running since 2018, and a new project in Beira Interior with Tomás Cordero Ruiz, Vítor Pereira (Museu da Guarda) and Tiago Ramos of the NOVA University of Lisbon. The field work, and the associated find campaigns, focus on the rural settlement organization of newly conquered areas. This is done by studying the settlement and land-use patterns, centuriation, roads/infrastructure as apparent from the archaeological evidence mapped by field-walking surface surveys and other non-invasive methods (e.g., geophysics, drone surveys, aerial photography, remote sensing) as well as from excavation data. Another part of the project regards the integration in GIS of previous landscape archaeological data (‘legacy data’) and its potential for integration and comparison with newer datasets from the Central and Western Mediterranean.

KNIR Library in Rome
The KNIR library in Rome.

The KNIR-PBCF-GIA Research Alliance provides the framework to support the transnational comparative part of the project’s research, and also the possibility for the team members to work in Rome and benefit from the uniquely rich cultural and literary resources that the Eternal City has to offer. The project is based at the Groningen Institute of Archaeology in the Netherlands and at the KNIR in Italy. Both KNIR and GIA have a long history in landscape archaeological projects and pre-Roman and Roman archaeology in the Italian peninsula. Comparative approaches to settlement trends and the linking of different field survey datasets are at the heart of these studies. The KNIR coordinates the WebGIS Fasti Online Survey platform, collecting information about field survey projects from the Italian peninsula and the wider Mediterranean, and also publishes the A journal FOLD&R (Fasti On Line Documents & Research) Archaeological Survey Series. The Research Alliance capitalizes on this concrete infrastructure as well as on the large scholarly community working on landscape archaeology and Roman imperialism in the foreign and national institutes and universities of Rome.

Two project team members, the PI Tesse Stek and postdoc Anita Casarotto, work at KNIR, whereas Tymon de Haas and Jeremia Pelgrom are based at the University of Groningen. The other (future) team members, two PhD students and a research assistant, will be based in Groningen and will visit the KNIR during various research stays. Also, workshops and research meetings of the project are planned at the KNIR, GIA and Portugal. A series of digital internships and other educational projects are also part of the program.

Last modified:17 November 2022 1.04 p.m.