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 Rubén Montoya González

PhD: Archaeology

Thesis Title: Villa décor, identity and self-representation in the Guadalquivir Valley (Hispania Ulterior Baetica).


Thesis Description:


My research focuses on the Roman province of Baetica and beyond, and it investigates different aspects of identity (especially status and elite identity) through the display of interior decor in country villas at both local and regional levels.In the last decade, approaches to Hispano-Roman art in the private sphere have changed form a primarily descriptive and static discourse influenced by Pompeian examples, to a more theoretical debate concerning the nature and diversity of provincial evidence. My PhD will contribute to the latter vibrant discourse, focusing on villa décor through the application of different methodologies engaging with the concepts of "consumption" and "identity". Decorative display within villas has been seen as an indicator of patronal identity in Romano British villas, but hitherto nothing of this sort has been attempted with the rich data from Hispania, where previous approaches have been largely limited to the iconography of mosaics, paintings and sculptures. My study will investigate aspects such as self-representation, and the individual/group projection of identities (religious, cultural, political) at local/regional levels in the process of decor's consumption in the private sphere. 

Supervisors and Institution(s): 

Prof. Penelope M. Allison (Univeristy of Leicester)

Ass. Prof. Sarah Scott (University of Leicester)

Prof. Katharina Lorenz (University of Nottingham) 



  • Books:
    • Calderón, M., España-Chamorro, S. and Montoya, R. (eds.). 2015. Archaeological Studies of the Vesuvian Area I. Oxford: Archaeopress (Spanish).

  • Published Papers:
    • Montoya, R. and Benito, E. 2016. Pompeya imaginada: contextos reales e ideales en la pintura de los siglos XVIII y XIX. In M. Calderón, S. España-Chamorro, and E.A. Benito (eds.), Estudios Arqueológicos del Área Vesuviana II. Oxford: Archaeopress.
    • Montoya, R. 2015a. Herculano y Pompeya. Historia de las excavaciones arqueológicas desde el siglo XVIII hasta la actualidad. In M. Calderón, S. España-Chamorro and R. Montoya (eds.), Archaeological Studies of the Vesuvian Area I, 44-55. Oxford: Archaeopress.
    • Montoya, R. 2015b. Reflexiones sobre el uso del "lapis specularis" en las domus pompeyanas: arquitectura y vida cotidiana. In J.M. Luzón, Navigare necesse est. Homenaje al Profesor José María Luzón Nogué, 189-196. Madrid: Universidad Complutense.
    • Montoya, R. and Romero, L. 2015. “A Roman togatus from Pompelo”. Cuadernos de Arqueología de Navarra 23, 279-289.
    • Andreu, J, Romero, L. and Montoya, R.2015a. "Los Bañales (Uncastillo, Zaragoza), ciuitas augústea". Anales de Arqueología Cordobesa 25-25, 49-70.
    • Andreu, J, Romero, L. and Montoya, R.2015b. Avances a los retratos julio-claudios del foro de la ciudad romana de Los Bañales (Uncastillo, Zaragoza). TarracoBiennal. Augusti i les provinciés Occidentals, 41-47. Tarragona: Impremta Torrell.

  • Book Reviews:
    • Montoya, R. 2018. R. HIDALGO PRIETO (ED.), LAS VILLAS ROMANAS DE LA BÉTICA. Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla, 2016. 2 vols: Pp. 1,480, illus. isbn9788447218615. €70.00. Journal of Roman Studies, 108, 248-249.
    • Review of "Diarte-Blasco, P. (ed) 2017. Cities, Lands and Ports in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Archaeologies of Change. Roma: BraDypUS Communicating Cultural Heritage" in European Journal of Post-Classical Archaeologies, 2018 (forthcoming). 
    • Review of “Marco, F., Pina, F. and Remesal, J. 2016. Autorretratos. La creación de la imagen personal en la Antigüedad. Instrumenta 53. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona” in Espacio Tiempo y Forma. Serie II. Historia Antigua 30, 2017, 333-386. 
    • Review of “Vargas, S. 2016. Diseños geométricos en los mosaicos del conventus astigitanus. Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 13. Oxford: Archaeopress” in Archaeological Review from Cambridge 32.1, 2017 , 126-130. 


 Papers at Conferences/Seminars:

  • Glocalization, Identities and Provincial Art: tessellated pavements and sculpted stones from Hispania Baetica. 8th April 2018. Paper presented at the Classical Association Conference 2018. University of Leicester. 
  • A diverse socio-cultural Hispano-Roman elite: patrons and villa mosaics from Hispania Ulterior and Hispania Citerior in context.  23rd March 2018. Paper presented at the Institute of Classical Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London) within the Postgraduate Work-in-Progress Seminars PGWIP 2017-2018. 
  • Towards regional geographies of villa décor in the province of Hispania Baetica: a preliminary analysis. 17th November 2017. Paper  at the 3rd School of Archaeology and Ancient History PhD Conference. University of Leicester. 
  • Lapis specularis in Cyprus and its interpretation (Spanish)28 September 2017. Paper given with Maria Jose Bernardez and Juan Carlos Guisado di Monti. III Convegno Internazionale: Il lapis specularis nei Rinvenimenti Archeologici. Brisighella (Ravenna, Italia).
  • Think Ontologically: Towards Ontological-based databases in Archaeology and Digital Humanities. 21 July 2017. "At the Crossroads of Empires: The Longobard Church of Sant'Ambrogio at Montecorvino Rovella (Salerno, Italy)" Summer School.
  • Patronage and interior décor in Late Antique Hispania. 19 July 2017. "At the Crossroads of Empires: The Longobard Church of Sant'Ambrogio at Montecorvino Rovella (Salerno, Italy)" Summer School.
  • Personal choices and the 4th century social elite: Hispano-Roman mosaics in context. 16th June 2017. The Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American Studies Postgraduate Community Forum 2017. The University of Nottingham.
  • What do we do with archaeological data? Opening paper given with Prof. Penelope Allison at the workshop "Think Ontologically: An Introduction to the Use of Ontologies in Archaeology and Digital Humanities". 9th June 2017. University of Leicester.
  • Patrons, viewers and villa mosaics in Hispania Citerior. 31st March 2017. 27th Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference. University of Durham. 
  • Villas, decor and identity(ies) in Late Antique Hispania. 27th Feb 2017. University of Lincoln.
  • Pompeii imagined: real and ideal contexts in the nineteenth-century Spanish paintings. Co-author with Estefanía Benito Lázaro. II Jornadas Pompeyanas. Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Madrid, Spain). 23th Jan 2015.
  • Augustus and the territorial organization of the Northern Conuentus Caesar Augustanus: Los Bañales and the other Roman cities from the so-called “cinco villas” region. Co-author with Dr. Javier Andreu Pintado and D. Luis Romero Novella. Tarraco Biennal. 28th Nov 2014.
  • Texts and Objects in context: current perspectives in classical archaeology. Madrid, 14th Nov. 2014. Semana de la Ciencia. UCM.
  • Early Christian Iconography: “space”, “time” and “image” in the paintings from Rome´s catacombs between the 2nd and 6th centuries AD. (EIJHA, UCM, 7 May 2014).
  • Herculaneum and Pompeii: 1738/1748-2014. I Jornadas Pompeyanas. Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando. 5th March 2014.

Posters at Conferences/Seminars:

  • Framing Space: Geography(ies) of Villa Décor in the Roman Province of Hispania Baetica. Poster to be displayed at "Ricerche di Archaeologia Cristiana, Tardoantichità e Altomedioevo. Colloquio Internazionale tra dottorandi e dottori di ricerca". 5th-7th February 2018. Rome (Italy).

  • On villa décor and identity(ies): Assembling Contexts in Hispania Ulterior Baetica. Poster displayed at the Midlands3Cities Research Festival. 25th May 2017. Leicester. 

Panels organised at Conferences:

    • "On Displaying Interior Décor and Identity(ies): a Contextual Approach to Hispano-Roman Mosaics".  ICS Postgraduate Work in Progress Seminar 2017-2018. Panel organised with Lucy Elkerton (University of Bristol). 23rd March 2018. London. 

    • "Rethinking the Boundaries: Visual Culture in the Roman Provinces and beyond". Classical Association Annual Conference 2018. Chair of the Panel: Ass Prof Sarah Scott (University of Leicester). Speakers: Dr. Giacomo Savani (University of Leicester), Ruben Montoya (University of Leicester), Jane Ainsworth (University of Leicester) and Phil Hughes (University of Leicester). 6th-9th April 2018. Leicester.


  • Think Ontologically: An Introduction to the Use of Ontologies in Archaeology and Digital Humanities. Midlands3Cities CDF Event organised in collaboration with the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (University of Leicester), School of Archaeology and Ancient History (University of Leicester), Department of Informatics (University of Leicetser), and the Department of Classics (University of Nottingham). Lead applicant: Ruben Montoya Gonzalez (M3C, University of Leicester); Co-applicants: Lindsey Annable (M3C, University of Nottingham), Phil Hughes (M3C, University of Leicester) and Daniel Van Helden (University of Leicester). 9th June 2017. University of Leicester. 

Recent Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

  • Research Seminars of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History during the academic course 2017/2018. University of Leicester. Co-organiser (
  • Think Ontologically: An Introduction to the Use of Ontologies in Archaeology and Digital Humanities. University of Leicester. Lead organizer (for further information, see Workshops on this page). 
  • Midlands3Cities Research Festival 2017. University of Leicester. Member of the M3C Cohort 3 (25th May 2017).
  • 27th Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference. University of Durham. Speaker (2017, March).
  • 1st East Midlands Research Day on Medieval and Early Modern Iberia, Lincoln Cathedral Centre. 28th February 2017.
  • Outreach Team/ SAAH University of Leiceser. Group Supervisor of the program "Archaeology and Classics in the Community", held at different schools from Leicester (January-March 2017).
  • Proyecto "Cien mil pasos alrededor de Segobriga". Researcher (2015- present)
  • Outreach Team/ SAAH University of Leicester. Volunteer (2015, Jan-May)
  • 25th Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Leicester. Volunteer (2015, March)
  • Jornadas Pompeyanas I y II. Co-director and Editor (2014-2015).


  • Akrotiri (Cyprus). "Anticent Akrotiri Project, Cyprus. Dreamer's Bay (Nisarouin). January 2018. 
  • Pompeii (Italy). "Life at the Crossroads Project". July 2017.
  • Montecorvino Rovella (Salerno, Italy). "At the Crossroads of Empries Project: The Longobard Church of Sant'Ambrogio at Montecorvino Rovella (Salerno, Italy). July 2017
  • Hispano-Roman city of Los Banales (Uncastillo, Zaragoza). July 2014.
  • Ostia (Ostia, Italy). January 2012.
  • Palatine Hill (Rome, Italy). September 2011.
  • Pompeii, House of Diana Arcaizzante, VII.6.3 (Pompeii, Italy). September 2010.
  • Hispano-Roman city of Sisapo (La Bienvenida, Ciudad Real, Spain). August 2010.
  • Cerro de las Cabezas (Valdepenas, Ciudad Real, Spain). August 2010.

Active member of Research Projects:

  • Spain: Grupo HUM639: Implicaciones tecnológicas en Procesos Arqueológicos, Museológicos y de Gestión Patrimonial. Grupo de Investigación. IP: prof. Dr. Rafael Hidalgo Prieto.

Past Participation in Research Projects:

  • Cyprus: 
    • Ancient Akrotiri Project, Cyprus. Dreamer's Bay (Nisarouin). 2018.
  • Italy
    • Pompeii: Life at the Crossroads Project. 2017
    • At the crossroads of Empires: The Longobard Church of Sant'Ambrogio at Montecorvino Rovella (Salerno, Italy). 2017. 
  • Spain-Italy:


Other Research Interests:

  • Web Ontology Language (OWL).
  • Ontology-based databases in Archaeology.
  • Roman Provincial Art.
  • Digital Humanities.
  • Semantic Web.
  • Spanish Grand Tour.
  • Pompeii and the study of Pompeian antiquities.
  • Roman urbanism.
  • Statistics.




University email address:

Twitter: @rubsmontoya




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