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Thesis Description:

The centre of Lepcis Magna (Libya) contains some of the most iconic monuments of Roman Africa. Many buildings of its core are well studied, but my PhD will focus on its suburbs, hitherto poorly analyzed and described, in order to address important questions about Roman urbanization, economy and social practice. I consider the suburbs as inseparable from the city core if we are to comprehend fully the city’s overall development. Beside cemeteries, suburbs often contained a range of other monument types: entertainment buildings, private structures, manufacturing installations and infrastructures. Some key aspects of Roman life, that are difficult to identify within the city, are illuminated by the study of suburbs. Such studies can change our perception on the dynamics of funeral practices, productive activities, extra­urban sanctuaries and the different choices made by authorities and communities to control and to exploit these areas, as well as providing important economic and social data. Surprisingly few suburbs have been examined extensively, but recent work on other North African towns (Meninx and Lepti Minus) has shown the potential. My analysis of the processes that led to the formation of the periphery of Lepcis will contribute to a new understanding of Roman urbanism and inform wider debate in urban history and on the nature of urban/rural boundary. My academic path and professional career have given me the skills to investigate ancient suburban land use. In my BA thesis I analyzed the Roman town of Aricia, while my MA thesis (published as a monograph) was a study of Rome’s suburban development along the Appian way. My initial work on the periphery of Lepcis was my School of Specialization thesis. I participated in the Archaeological Mission of Roma Tre University at Lepcis (2006f), involving surveys related to the peri­urban zones, focusing on the city’s funerary structures. The data, knowledge and experience gained have equipped me to undertake this PhD.

My work to date has identified c.130 archaeological sites in the suburban zone of Lepcis: private structures, remains of productive/commercial activities, entertainment buildings, infrastructures associated with movement of people, goods, water supply and defense. Completing the cataloguing, mapping and analyzing of these data will be quite feasible in the timeframe of a PhD, as well as integrating information on the city’s hinterland. My research will address a series of questions: How did the suburban area develop over time? What were its most distinctive features? How was the space used socially? What was the economic significance of this area that served as a bridge between the urban space and the rich agrarian hinterland? What did the suburban zone at Lepcis share in common with and what differences existed between it and other important cities in North Africa or in other Roman provinces? This PhD will collate the data and results of several surveys and excavations, in addition to unpublished documentation from Italian and British archives (Military, Ministerial and private). New fieldwork is not required for the thesis to be viable, though if political conditions in Libya improve, some verification of surface traces could be made. A secondary, but important, goal of this research relates to the heritage management of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lack of systematic record of the suburban archaeology has exposed much of it to damage in recent years, through the uncontrolled urban development of the adjacent modern city of Khoms. My research will have impact by informing a management plan for the Libyan Department of Antiquities and by establishing a new archaeological risk map and a chapter will be devoted to heritage management issues.


Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Prof. David Mattingly (University of Leicester)

Dr. Gareth Sears (University of Birmingham)

Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

  • 2016

    - with D. Baldoni, Leptis Magna, il suburbio: ricostruzione di un paesaggio complesso in Musso L. (ed), Missione archeologica dell'Università di Roma Tre (2009-2014), Libya Antiqua n.s. VII, 2013-2014 (2016), pp. 11-54 (in part pp. 22-28).

    - with M. Munzi, F. Felici,  Leptis Magna, il territorio: ricognizione tra Ras el-Mergheb e Ras el-Hammam in Musso L. (ed), Missione archeologica dell'Università di Roma Tre (2009-2014), Libya Antiqua n.s. VII, 2013-2014 (2016), pp. 11-54 (in part pp. 28-38).

  • 2015

    with M. Munzi, F. Felici, I Sjöström, La Tripolitania rurale tardoantica, medievale e ottomana alla luce delle recenti indagini archeologiche territoriali nella regione di Leptis Magna, Archeologia Medievale LXI (2014), Firenze, 215-245.

  • 2013 

    with M. Munzi, F. Felici, E. Cirelli, Combattere a Leptis Magna: archeologia della Guerra di Libia, Archeologia Postmedievale 14 (2010), Firenze, 11-40.

  • 2011 

    with M. Munzi, E. Cirelli, F. Felici, G. Schingo, Villas et fermes, châteaux et marabouts dans le territoire de Leptis Magna, L’Archéo-Thema 17 (Novembre-Décembre 2011), Fontaine-lès-Dijon, 21-29.

  • 2010 

    with M. Munzi, F. Felici, E. Cirelli, G. Schingo, Il territorio di Leptis Magna: ricognizioni tra Ras el-Mergheb e Ras el-Hammam (2007),  L’Africa Romana XVIII (Olbia 2008), Roma, 723-746.

  • 2009 

    Via Appia. Cinque secoli di immagini. Un racconto da Porta San Sebastiano al IX miglio, (Monografie della Carta dell'Agro Romano 3), Roma.


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