The Ancient City

Research into the ancient city is a long-standing and multifaceted area of expertise in our department. We have special interests in urban cultures and the archaeology of cities from Egypt to Roman Britain across several millennia.

We work on the topography, archaeology, architecture and cultures of cities such as Sparta, Athens and other Greek city states, Rome, Constantinople, the cities of ancient Egypt, the towns of Britannia and the urban centres of North Africa. We are also interested in the interplay between urban centres and their rural hinterland, whether in Egypt, Greece, Italy or Britain.


Matteo Barbato focuses on the political institutions of ancient Athens.

Andrew Bayliss is an expert on ancient Sparta and is interested in the rural hinterland of Greek poleis.

Henriette van der Blom works on the political culture of urban Rome and its spatial setting.

Leslie Brubaker researches the power of processions through urban centres.

Hannah Cornwell is a specialist on the topography and space of the City of Rome in the interplay with politics, diplomacy and discourses of power.

Theofili Kampianaki has published on the city of Constantinople and its peripheries.

Ailsa Hunt is a specialist in the religious landscapes of Roman towns and cities.

Maeve McHugh focuses on the rural contexts of ancient Greece and is particularly interested in the interplay between urban centres and their rural hinterland.

Will Mack works on guest-friendship and citizenship across the Greek city states.

Leire Olabarria excavates the Middle Egyptian site of Dayr el-Barsha to better understand the role of the cemetery within its urban setting.

Dan Reynolds is working on peasant communities in Byzantine-period provincial contexts, especially in the Levant and Southern Italy.

Gareth Sears specialises in the archaeology, city life and religious change in Roman cities, especially in North Africa of the late antiquity.

Diana Spencer is an expert of the ways in which the Romans conceptualised and experienced the urban space.

Ken Wardle’s research focuses on the Prehistoric Greek cities and settlements of Mycenae, Knossos, Assiros and Servia and Thermon.

Roger White is a specialist in the archaeology and heritage of cities, towns and their surrounding areas in Roman Britain.

Honorary Professor Larmour has worked on Rome as a site of memory with Diana Spencer and they are working on a study of Ovidian topography.

Major publications

Barbato, M 2020, The Ideology of Democratic Athens: Institutions, Orators and the Mythical Past. New Approaches to Ancient Greek Institutional History, Edinburgh University Press. 

Barbato, M 2020, Athenian identity and the ideology of autochthony: An institutionalist approach. in J Filonik, B Griffith-Williams & J Kucharski (eds), The Making of Identities in Athenian Oratory. Routledge Monographs in Classical Studies, Routledge, London, pp. 83-101.

Bayliss, A 2020, The Spartans. Oxford University Press.

Bayliss, A 2017, Good to slaughter the lives of young men? The role of Tyrtaeus’ poetry in Spartan Society. in LF Bantim (ed.), Esparta: Politica e sociedade. Prismas.

Bayliss, A 2017, Once an ally, always an ally: Sparta’s approach to policing the oaths of her allies in the late fifth and early fourth centuries. in E Moloney & MS Williams (eds), Peace and Reconciliation in the Classical World. Routledge.

van der Blom, H, Gray, C & Steel, C (eds) 2018, Institutions and Ideology in Republican Rome: Speech, Audience and Decision. Cambridge University Press.

van der Blom, H 2016, Oratory and Political Career in the Late Roman Republic. Cambridge University Press.

Brubaker, L & Wickham, C 2019, Processions, power, and community identity: East and WestEmpires and communities. Pohl, W. & Kramer, R. (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Cornwell, H 2020, The Production of Diplomatic Space in Ancient Rome. in S Merten & A Haug (eds), Practices in Ancient Public Spaces. vol. Studies in Classical Archaeology, Brepols Publishers, pp. 81-94.

Matheou, N, Kampianaki, T & Bondioli, L (eds) 2016. From Constantinople to the Frontier: The City and the cities (Leiden; Boston: Brill)

Hunt, A 2019, Pagan Animism: a modern myth for a Green Age. in A Hunt & HF Marlow (eds), Ecology and Theology in the Ancient World. 1 edn, Bloomsbury Academic.

Hunt, A 2016, Reviving Roman Religion: Sacred Trees in the Roman World. Cambridge Classical Studies, Cambridge University Press.

McHugh, M. 2017. The Ancient Greek Farmstead. Oxbow.

Mack, W 2018, 'Vox Populi, Vox Deorum? The Athenian document reliefs and the theologies of public inscription', Annual of the British School at Athens, vol. 113, pp. 365-398

Mack, W 2015, Proxeny and Polis: Institutional Networks in the Ancient Greek World. Oxford University Press.

Mack, W 2015, 'Shepherds beating the bounds? Territorial identity at a dependent community', The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. 135, pp. 51-77.

Reynolds, D 2017, 'Rethinking Palestinian Iconoclasm', Dumbarton Oaks Papers, vol. 71, pp. 1-64.

Reynolds, D 2015, Monasticism in Early Islamic Palestine: Contours of Debate. in RG Hoyland (ed.), The late antique world of early Islam: Muslims among Christians and Jews in the East Mediterranean. Darwin Press, pp. 339.

Sears, G 2016, A Catholic stronghold? in N Roy, J Nikolaus & N Mugnai (eds), De Africa Romaque: Merging cultures across North Africa. Society for Libyan Studies , Oxford.

Spencer, D 2015, Urban flux: Varro’s Rome-in-progressThe Moving City: Processions, Passages and Promenades in Ancient Rome. Östenberg, I., Malmberg, S. & Bjørnebye, J. (eds.). London: Bloomsbury Academic, p. 99-110 12 p.

Spencer, D 2018, Written Rome: Ancient Literary responses. in A Claridge & C Holleran (eds), A Companion to the City of Rome. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World, vol. 101, Wiley-Blackwell.

Wardle, K & Wardle, D 2019, The citadel of Mycenae: a landscape of myth and memory. in E Borgna , I Caloi , FM Carinci & R Laffineur (eds), MNHMH / MNEME. Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age: Proceedings of the 17th International Aegean Conference, University of Udine, Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Department of Humanities, 17-21 April 2018. vol. 43, Aegaeum, vol. 43, Peeters Publishers and Booksellers, Leuven, Leuven, pp. 153-164

Wardle, K 2015, Reshaping the past: Where was the “Cult Centre” at Mycenae? in A-L Schallin & I Tournavitou (eds), Mycenaeans up to date: The archaeology of the north-eastern Peloponnese - current concepts and new directions. vol. 56, Acta Instituti Atheniensis Regni Sueciae, Series in 4, vol. 56, Stockholm, pp. 577-596.

White, R & Hodder, M (eds) 2018, Clash of Cultures? The Romano-British period in the West Midlands. The Making of the West Midlands, vol. 3, Oxbow, Oxford.


Anti-political-establishment ideology in Athenian democracy (led by Matteo Barbato, funded by Leverhulme).

Epistolary Visions of Transformational Leadership (co-led by Henriette van der Blom, funded by the Danish Council for Independent Research)

The Bays of East Attica Regional Survey (Maeve McHugh)

Crossroads of Empires. The Longobard Church of sant'Ambrogio alla Rienna, Montecorvijno Rovella (Italy) (led by Daniel Reynolds, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation).

Find out more



Crossroads of Empires
Roger White
The problem with the Spartans - Andrew Bayliss