About our staff
Dr Ben Russell
BA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon)
Senior Lecturer; Classical Archaeology
- Classics Graduate Officer
- Curator of Classics Collections
- Programme Director PhD in Classics and MScR in Classics
I took a BA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, followed by the MSt and DPhil in Classical Archaeology at the University of Oxford. My doctoral work, which I finished in 2009, was on the Roman stone trade and was completed as part of the wider Oxford Roman Economy Project. Between 2009 and 2010 I worked on a post-doctoral project in Rome, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, on the Roman sarcophagus trade. In 2010-2011 I worked as a Teaching Assistant in Classical Archaeology at St John’s College in the University of Oxford and lectured both there and at Birkbeck on Roman and Hellenistic art, architecture and archaeology. Between 2011 and 2013 I worked on a Leverhulme-funded project on Roman sculptural techniques at King’s College London. I joined the department in Edinburgh in 2013 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2017.
Summary of research interestsPlaces:
- Britain & Ireland
- Near East
- Ancient Civilisations
- Economic History
- Landscapes & Monuments
- Material Culture
While I am interested in all aspects of Classical archaeology, my research focuses on Roman art, architecture, and the ancient economy. I have worked especially on the production and supply of materials for construction and artistic production in the Roman world and what this reveals about Roman craftsmen and their relationship with their customers. I completed a major project with colleagues at King’s College London on Roman sculptural techniques, entitled The Art of Making in Antiquity, in 2013. I am also interested in economic geography, urbanism and monumentality, ethic representations in Roman art, and maritime archaeology.
I am a field archaeologist and have worked on a wide range of projects in Britain, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Libya, Macedonia, Tunisia, and Turkey.
Current research activities
Through my interest in building materials and the exploitation of natural resources I have become increasingly involved in work on vernacular architecture in the Roman world and especially the use of soil-based materials (mudbrick, rammed earth, cob and turf). I have received British Academy funding to analyse earth building materials in Italy, Greece and Tunisia, and I am now directing, with Dr Chris Beckett in the School of Engineering, a three-year (2018-2021) Leverhulme-funded project on earth and turf construction in the Roman North-West. This project, Earthen Empire, will examine archaeological remains for earth and turf buildings and their architectural and geotechnical properties in order to explore how these overlooked materials were employed, where and why, and what this can tell us about the persistence of pre-Roman building traditions as well as the movement of techniques following the Roman conquest.
In the field, I direct the University of Edinburgh-Apolline Project excavations at the Roman city of Aeclanum in the Irpinia region of inland Campania, with Dr Ferdinando De Simone (Bologna). This project examines the urban devoplment and palaeoenvironment of the site from the pre-Roman to late antique periods and provides fieldwork opportunities for Edinburgh students. I am also Field Director (with Dr Ine Jacobs) of the New York University excavations at Aphrodisias in Turkey, where I am working with Prof. Andrew Wilson on the publication of the excavations in the so-called 'South Agora'. I have previously worked on, and I am now involved in the publication of, the University of Oxford and INP exacavations at Utica in Tunisia, and the Kostoperska Karpa Regional Archaeological Project.
Earthen Empire: Earth and Turf Building in the Roman North West (Leverhulme Trust RPG-2018-223) - PI, with Dr Chris Beckett (CI), Dr Tanja Romankiewicz (RA), and Dr Riley Snyder (RA)
Knowledge Exchange and Impact
Public Archaeology forms a key component of our fieldwork at Aeclanum, which I direct with Dr Ferdinando De Simone (Bologna). In addition to regular open days, primarily for school children, we have produced information panels about the site and are even working on a comic book for a younger audience in collaboration with our resident illustrator and project manager, Zofia Guertin.
- Roman World 1A
- Roman World 1B
- Greek World 1B
- Roman Art and Archaeology
- Classical Archaeology in the Field
- Archaeology of Architecture
- Roman Architecture
- Archaeology of the Roman Economy
- Hellenistic Art and Archaeology
- Skills and Methods in Classics
|Name||Thesis topic||Degree type||Supervision type||Year started|
|Martina Astolfi||Stone-Use and the Building Industry on Roman Cyprus: Kourion and Amathus||PhD||Primary||2016|
|Vincenzo Castaldo||Ceramics and the Economy of Late Antique Campania||PhD||Joint||2016|
|Andrew McLean||Modelling Ancient Market Integration: Adriatic Oil and Wine in the Early Roman Empire||PhD||Primary||2018|
|Lucia Michielin||Fores et fenestrae: A Computational Study of Doors and Windows in Roman Domestic Space||PhD||Primary||2014|
|Meg Moodie||Between the Desert and the Deep: The Lived Experience of the Funerary Landscape of the Ancient Maghreb||PhD||Primary||2015|
|Pier Luigi Morbidoni||Freedom and Citizenship in the Roman Empire: Legal and Epigraphic Approaches to Status Identification||PhD||Secondary||2015|
|Rory Nutter||Impacts and Reactions to the Roman Conquest of Italy through the Lens of Epigraphy||PhD||Secondary||2016|
|Katy O'Donnell||The Quarries of Hadrian's Wall: The Materials and Logistics of a Large-Scale Imperial Building Project.||PhD||Joint||2016|
|James Page||'Carrying up it all the Products of the Sea': Mapping Trade in the Po Basin, 42 BC - AD 284||PhD||Primary||2018|
|Tim Penn||Beyond the Grave: The Complex Funerary Landscapes of the Italian Peninsula, ca. 300-700 AD||PhD||Primary||2017|
|Matteo Randazzo||The Byzantine-Islamic Transition on Sicily and Crete||PhD||Secondary||2016|
|Fraser Reed||The Urbes Thraciarum in Late Antiquity: An Archaeological Assessment of the Cities of Thracia from Diocletian to Maurice (AD 284-602)||PhD||Secondary||
|Name||Thesis topic||Degree type||Supervision type||Year completed|
|Alana Newman||The Manufactured Nature of Ptolemaic Royal Representation and the Question of Agency: An Analysis of the Portraiture of Queen Arsinoë II||PhD||Primary||2017|
|Lauren MacGregor||Decorating a Roman Villa: The Vacone Villa in Italy||MScR||Primary||2018|
|Andrew McLean||Economic Specialization in Central Italy||MScR||Joint||2016|
|Katy O'Donnell||The Quarries of the Central Sector of Hadrian's Wall||MScR||Joint||2015|
|James Page||In Tuscis: An Examination of the Economy and Connectivity of the Upper Tiber Valley||MScR||Primary||2017|
Currently accepting research student applications : Yes
Areas accepting Research Students in:
I am happy to supervise MScR or PhD students working on Roman archaeological topics, ideally those focused on Italy, Asia Minor or North Africa, and/or on Roman architecture, sculpture or the Roman economy.
Russell, B. 2013. The Economics of the Roman Stone Trade. Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Reviews have appeared to date in Antiquity, The American Journal of Archaeology, Archeologia Classica, BMCR, European Journal of Archaeology, The Journal of Roman Archaeology, and The Journal of Roman Studies.
Mladenović, D. and Russell, B. (eds) 2011. TRAC 2010. Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Oxford 2010. Oxford: Oxbow.
Russell, B. (2018), 'Stone quarrying in Greece: ten years of research', Archaeological Reports 63: 77-88.
De Simone, G.F. and Russell, B. (2018), 'New work at Aeclanum (Comune di Mirabella Eclano, Provincia di Avellino, Regione Campania)', Papers of the British School at Rome 86: 298-301.
Amiet, B., Barker, S., and Russell, B. (2018), 'The marble-clad bars of Ostia', Forum Romanum Belgicum 15: 1-7.
Donev, D., Gorgievski, D., Jacobs, I., Mladenović, D., Russell, B., and Strutt, K. (2017), ‘Kostoperska Karpa: new results from an integrated intensive field and remote sensing survey’, Patrimonium.Mk: Periodical for Cultural Heritage 15: 73-90.
Russell, B. 2015. 'A sculpted head of an African woman in the British Museum', Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Römische Abteilung 121: 509–34.
Russell, B. and Glicksman, K. 2015. 'Recent work on Roman quarries near Korčula and on Brač', Vjesnik za arheologiju i povijest dalmatinsku 108: 223–44.
Russell, B. 2013. ‘Roman and Late Antique shipwrecks with stone cargoes: a new inventory’, Journal of Roman Archaeology 26: 331-61.
Fant, J.C., Russell, B., and Barker, S.J., 2013. ‘Marble use and re-use at Pompeii and Herculaneum: the view from the bars’, Papers of the British School at Rome 82: 181-209.
Russell, B. 2008. ‘The dynamics of stone transport between the Roman Mediterranean and its hinterland’, Facta: A Journal of Roman Material Culture Studies 2: 107–26.
Russell, B. (2019), 'Simulacra gentium [africanarum]', in Visual Histories: Visual Remains and Histories of the Classical World. Papers in Honour of R. R. R. Smith, ed. by C. Draycott, R. Raja, K. Welch, and W. Wootton. Turnhout: Brepols, 265-80.
Russell, B. (2018), ''Difficult and costly': stone transport, its constraints, and its impact', in Roman Ornamental Stones in North-Western Europe. Natural Resources, Manufacturing, Supply, Life & After-Life, ed. by C. Coquelet, G. Creemers, R. Dreesen, and É. Goemare. Namur: Agence Wallonne du Patrimoine, 131-50.
Russell, B. (2018), 'Stone use and the economy: demand, distribution, and the state', in Trade, Commerce, and the State in the Roman World, ed. by A. Wilson and A. Bowman. Oxford: OUP, 237-64.
Russell, B. (2018), 'Labour forces at Roman imperial quarries', in ASMOSIA IX. Interdisciplinary Studies on Ancient Stone, ed. by D. Matetić Poljak and K. Marasović. Split: University of Split, 733-9.
Russell, B. and Wootton, W. (2017), 'Makers and making: Classical art in action', in The Diverstiy of Classical Archaeology, ed. by A. Lichtenberger and R. Raja. Turnhout: Brepols, 253-70.
Strapazzon, G., Russell, B, and De Simone, G.F. (2017), ‘Integrating GPR and excavation at Roman Aeclanum (Avellino, Italy)’, in AP2017: 12th International Conference of Archaeological Prospection, ed. By B. Jennings, C. Gaffney, T. Sparrow, and S. Gaffney, Oxford: Archaeopress, 242-4.
Russell, B. 2016. ‘Imported building materials in North Africa: brick, stone and the role of return cargoes’, in De Africa Romaque: Merging Cultures across North Africa, ed. by J. Nikolaus, M. Mugnai, and N. Ray. Oxford: Society for Libyan Studies, 173-84.
Russell, B. and Fentress, E. 2016. 'Mud brick and pisé de terre between Punic and Roman North Africa', in Arqueología de la Construcción V, ed. by J. DeLaine, S. Camporeale, and A. Albuerne. Madrid and Merida: Anejos de Archivo Español de Arqueología, 131-43.
Russell, B. 2016. 'Mapping the marble quarries', in Aphrodisias Papers 5. Excavation and Research at Aphrodisias, 2006–2012. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement 103, ed. by R.R.R. Smith, J. Lenaghan, A. Sokolicek, and K. Welch. Portsmouth RI: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 255–67.
Wilson, A.I., Russell, B., and Ward, A. 2016. 'Excavations in an urban park ('South Agora'), 2012', in Aphrodisias Papers 5. Excavation and Research at Aphrodisias, 2006–2012. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement 103, ed. by R.R.R. Smith, J. Lenaghan, A. Sokolicek, and K. Welch. Portsmouth RI: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 77–90.
Russell, B. 2015. ‘Transport and distribution’, in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Sculpture, ed. by E. A. Friedland, M. G. Sobocinski, and E. Gazda. New York: Wiley Blackwell, 189-205.
Russell, B. and Wootton, W. 2015. 'Presenting and interpreting the process of stone carving: The Art of Making in Antiquity project', in Interdisciplinary Studies on Ancient Stone. ASMOSIA X, ed. P. Pensabene and E. Gasparini. Rome: L'Erma, 851-60.
Barker, S. and Russell, B. 2012. ‘Labour figures for Roman stone-working: pitfalls and potential’, in Arqueología de la Construcción III. Los procesos constructivos en el mundo romano: la economía de las obras. Anejos de Archivo Español de Arqueología 64, ed. by S. Camporeale, H. Dessales, and A. Pizzo. Madrid and Merida: Anejos de Archivo Español de Arqueología, 83–94.
Russell, B. 2012. ‘Shipwrecks and stone cargoes: some observations’, in Interdisciplinary Studies on Ancient Stone. ASMOSIA IX, ed. by A. Gutiérrez, P. Lapuente, and I. Rodà. Tarragona: ICAC, 533–9.
Russell, B. and Fachard, S. 2012. ‘New work on quarrying in the territory of Eretria’, in Interdisciplinary Studies on Ancient Stone. ASMOSIA IX, ed. by A. Gutiérrez, P. Lapuente, and I. Rodà. Tarragona: ICAC, 612–18.
Russell, B. 2011. ‘Lapis transmarinus: stone-carrying ships and the maritime distribution of stone in the Roman empire’, in Maritime Archaeology and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean. Proceedings of the 2008 OCMA Conference, Madrid. Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology 7, ed. by D. J. Robinson and A. I. Wilson. Oxford: OCMA, 137–52.
Russell, B. 2011. ‘The Roman sarcophagus ‘industry’: a reconsideration’, in Life, Death and Representation. Some New Work on Roman Sarcophagi, ed. by J. Elsner and J. Huskinson. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 119–47.
Russell, B. 2010. ‘Sarcophagi in Roman Britain’, in Romans and Barbarians, ed. by R. Thomas, in Meetings between Cultures in the Ancient Mediterranean. Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Rome, 22-26 Sept. 2008. Bollettino di Archeologia On-Line I, Volume Speciale E, E10, 10, ed. by H. Di Giuseppe and M. Dalla Riva (www.archeologia.beniculturali.it/pages/pubblicazioni.html).
Contributions to excavation reports
Fentress, E., Russell, B., and Ghozzi, F. 2013. ‘Area II: The Basilica and the Forum’, in Excavation at Utica by the Tunisian-British Utica Project 2013, ed. by E. Fentress, F. Ghozzi, J. Quinn, and A. I. Wilson (http://utica.classics.ox.ac.uk/index.php?id=28)
Fentress, E., Russell, B., and Ghozzi, F. 2012. ‘Area 2: The Basilica’, in Excavation at Utica by the Tunisian-British Utica Project 2012, ed. by E. Fentress, F. Ghozzi, J. Quinn, and A. I. Wilson (http://utica.classics.ox.ac.uk/index.php?id=27).
Fentress, E. and Russell, B. 2010. ‘Excavations in Area II, the monumental centre’, in Survey and Excavation at Utica 2010, ed. by N. Kallala, E. Fentress, J. Quinn, and A. I. Wilson (http://utica.classics.ox.ac.uk/index.php?id=20).
Bennett, P. and Russell, B. 2006:, ‘The Eastern Building’, in A. I. Wilson et al. ‘Euesperides 2006: Preliminary report on the Spring 2006 season’, Libyan Studies 37, 117-57.
Wootton, W., Bradley, J., and Russell, B, 2013. The Art of Making in Antiquity: Stoneworking in the Roman World (www.artofmaking.ac.uk), including the following essays:
- with Wootton, W. and Bradley, J. ‘Making the Art of Making in Antiquity’
- with Wootton, W. and Rockwell, P. ‘Stoneworking tools and toolmarks’
- with Wootton, W. and Rockwell, P. ‘Stoneworking techniques and processes’
Russell, B, 2013. Gazetteer of Stone Quarries in the Roman World, Version 1.0, published on the Oxford Roman Economy Project website (www.romaneconomy.ox.ac.uk).
2018: Review of: Alcock, S. E., Egri, M., and J. F. D. Frakes, eds, Beyond Boundaries: Connecting Visual Cultures in the Provinces of Ancient Rome, in Cambridge Archaeological Journal 28.2, 354-6.
2017: Review of: Korres, M., The Odeion Roof of Herodes Atticus and Other Giant Spans, in The Journal of Greek Archaeology 2:,445-8.
2016: Review of: Coombe, P., Grew, F., Hayward, K., and M. Henig, eds, Roman Sculpture from London and the South-East, in Journal of the British Archaeological Association 169.1, 127-8.
2016: 'Two new books on Roman sarcophagi from Greece', Journal of Greek Archaeology 1: 63-70.
2016: 'Ancient textiles in their economic context', Journal of Greek Archaeology 1: 78-83.
2014: Review of: Archibald, Z.H., Ancient Economies of the Northern Aegean: Fifth to First Centuries BC (Oxford: OUP), in Economic History Review 67.4, 1168-9.
2014: Review of: Duthoy, F., Sculpteurs et Commanditaires au IIe siècle après J.-C. Rome et Tivoli, Collection de l’École Française de Rome 465 (Rome: École Française de Rome), in Classical Review 64, 593-5.
2014: Review of: Birk, S., Depicting the Dead. Self-representation and Commemoration on Roman Sarcophagi with Portraits, Aarhus Studies in Mediterranean Antiquity 11 (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press), in Classical Review 64, 591-3.
2014: Review of: Friedland, E.A., The Roman Marble Sculptures from the Sanctuary of Pan at Caesarea Philippi/Panias (Israel), American Schools of Oriental Research Archaeological Reports 17 (Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research), in Levant 46.1, 144-5.
2013: Review of: White, D. with Reynolds, J., The Extramural Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone at Cyrene, Libya. Final Reports, Volume VIII: The Sanctuary’s Imperial Architectural Development, Conflict with Christianity, and Final Days, University Museum Monograph 134 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, for The Libyan Department of Antiquities, Tripoli), in Libyan Studies 44, 165-6.