The Late Roman Empire: Research Projects
The governor Palmatus,
from a statue at Aphrodisias
Ancient Alexandria Project
Alexandria had a unique role in the late antique East as the only major city there with an unbroken development of classical art, architecture and scholarship going back to the Hellenistic period. It continued to radiate architectural innovation and artistic influence, like its famous lighthouse, through the Byzantine and early Islamic periods (The Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt, 300 B.C. to A.D. 700, London 2007). The focus of the current phase of the Ancient Alexandria Project, directed by Judith McKenzie, has moved from architecture to late antique Alexandrian art, its characteristics and influence in a wider Mediterranean context, especially in Syro-Palestine on Christian and early Islamic monuments.
Ancient Commentators on Aristotle
The ‘Ancient Commentators on Aristotle’ project, based at King’s College London and directed by Richard Sorabji, has already produced 70 volumes of annotated translation of late Greek Philosophy from the period AD 200–600, and is now beginning to include translations of lost works recently discovered in Greek or Arabic versions. It has recently received a new four-year grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and has commissioned a total of over 100 volumes.
Androna (Andarin), Syria - Excavations and Survey
Marlia Mango (Co-director with Dr Ugdeh of Hama and Prof. Strube of Heidelberg)
Excavation and survey of the large desert settlement of Androna were begun in 1997. Androna is recorded as a late Roman mansio on one of the routes from Palmyra to Antioch, and as a Byzantine kome renowned for its wine. The site has the remains of 12 identified churches and of two massive extramural reservoirs, and has produced over 50 Greek inscriptions. Settlement continued into the Umayyad period. The team from Oxford has concentrated on the excavation of a sixth-century bath-building at the centre of the settlement, and on survey-work within Androna’s territory – exploring the area’s agricultural potential, identifying ancient rural settlements, and investigating Androna’s remarkable water-management structures (which include six qanat networks, bringing water underground over long distances).
For further details see Androna Project
Aphrodisias was one of the most important cities of ancient Asia Minor, and for several decades has been the subject of a major programme of excavation, conservation and research by the Institute of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Arts and Science of New York University. The project is currently directed by Bert Smith. Much of the evidence uncovered, including a uniquely rich collection of statues and statue bases, dates form the late antique period.
For further details see: Aphrodisias website
The ‘Hexapla Project’ is collecting and publishing the fragmentary biblical texts which pertain to the Hexapla, produced by the Christian scholar Origen in the third century CE. These texts are all that remain of early revisions of an original translation (from Hebrew into Greek) of the Jewish Scriptures commonly known as the Septuagint, and represent a key witness to the thought and worldview of Judaism in Late Antiquity and also to interaction between Christians and Jews. The members of the editorial board are: Dr Peter Gentry (Louisville, Kentucky and the Septuaginta-Unternehmung, Göttingen), Dr Alison Salvesen (Oxford), and Prof. Bas ter Haar Romeny (Leiden).
For further details, see: Hexapla Project website
A multidisciplinary study of the Upper Belice Valley in Western Sicily from the Upper Palaeolithic until 1500 A.D. The archaeological field survey is complete and its publication is in progress. The edition and study of the documentary sources by Jeremy Johns, Nadia Jamil, and Alex Metcalfe (University of Lancaster) is proceeding.
Oxford Roman Economy Project
The Oxford Roman Economy Project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and directed by Alan Bowman and Andrew Wilson, will provide a detailed analysis of the major economic activities of the Roman period, using quantifiable bodies of artefactual and documentary evidence and placing them in the broader structural context of regional variation, distribution, size and nature of markets, supply and demand. The chronological parameters are 100 BC to c. AD 350, covering the period of greatest imperial expansion and economic growth (to c.AD 200), followed by a century conventionally perceived as one of contraction or decline.
For further details, see: Oxford Roman Economy Project website
Tchalenko Archive Project
The Georges Tchalenko Archive, housed in Oxford’s Institute of Archaeology, contains the working notes and papers, drawings, maps, and up to 20,000 photographs of Georges Tchalenko who worked for over 40 years on the exceptionally well-preserved late Roman/early Byzantine settlements and architecture of northern Syria. The project, which is on-going, is digitizing and assembling on a database this remarkable research-resource, in order to make it available to the scholarly world.