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Name: Sarah Scheffler 

PhD: Archaeology

Thesis Title: Nothing has happened? The integration of the Lomellina into the Roman empire (submitted for examination May 2018)


Thesis Description:

Researching an archaeological landscape for a PhD can sometimes be a rather frustrating challenge. I probably spent almost three years looking at my data - the published archaeological record of the north-west Italian Lomellina (province of Pavia, Lombardy) - and thinking "Nothing has really happened here..."! Alas, this obviously isn't the whole picture...

The Lomellina is bordered by three rivers: the Sesia, the Ticino and the Po. The latter were two of the most important trade routes of north-west Italy not only during prehistory and antiquity. But during the Iron Age they connected the lacustrine area of Lake Maggiore and Lake Como with the central Po valley and thus the wider Mediterranean. This location embedded the communities of the Lomellina in a cultural, social and economic network that shaped the material and immaterial culture of its inhabitants and thus their burial customs. My research investigated how the Roman conquest impacted these relationships and how cultural, social and economic identities changed over the course of roughly three and a half centuries between c. 250 BC and AD 100. One of the most interesting and probably also surprising outcomes was the impact on social relationships within the communities. 

The Roman conquest led to administrative and legal changes that impacted all of Italy - from the Alps to the Strait of Messina, from the Aegean Sea to the Tyrrhenian Coast the communities were first granted Latin rights and eventually Roman citizenship. This would have turned the male population into Roman citizens and most likely resulted in some loss of local identities. Indeed, the mortuary record of the Lomellina suggests that during the 1st century BC the male elite lost its status as a class of warriors. Small compositional changes within the spectrum of ceramics and other vessels interred as part of the mortuary assemblages imply that this loss resulted in a demand for new rituals to negotiate and express elite identities and create social cohesion. Communal feasting at the grave site appears to have become an important element of the funerary rituals. Distinctly male identities, however, not only remain invisible to us, but female identities seem to have been on the rise. The adoption and adaptation of funerary beds to local customs speaks of a monumentalisation of cremations - apparently reserved to women. The fragmentary nature of my data did not allow me to answer all question, and - on the contrary - raised even more, but the picture painted by the archaeological record of the Lomellina allows me to speculate that it is one of strong women that led their communities into a new era after the Roman conquest (or, maybe, that is just my bias and nothing has really happened)...

Supervisors and Institution(s):

  • Prof. David Mattingly (University of Leicester)
  • Prof. Colin Haselgrove (University of Leicester)
  • Prof. Mark Pearce (University of Nottingham)




  • Habitus and Code-Switching. Theoretical concepts as a tool for understanding changing identities in pre- and early Roman northwest Italy, TRAC Workshop Making Practice Perfect, UCL London, 30.01.2016
  • Switching to Roman? Translating late Iron Age mortuary contexts from the Lomellina (IT), TRAC 2016 Session: Beyond Hybridity and Code-Switching: New approaches to the archaeology of Late Hellenistic Rome, Italy, and the wider Mediterranean, Rome, 16.-19.03.2016
  • CSI Lomellina. Funerary customs between deviance and norm, University of Leicester - School of Archaeology and Ancient History - Postgraduate Research Conference, November 2016
  • Nothing has happened? The integration of the Lomellina into the Roman empire, University of Leicester - School of Archaeology and Ancient History - Postgraduate Research Conference, November 2017

  • Who do you think they were? Identities in the wake of the Roman conquest, Workshop Who Do You Think You Are? Ethnicity in the Iron Age Central Mediterranean, UCL London, 24.03.2018
  • If nothing fits the bill? An archaeological landscape beyond imperialism and colonialism, Classical Association Annual Conference 2018, University of Leicester, 09.04.2018
  • The invisible (Ro)man. A case study on north-west Italian mortuary archaeology in the wake of the Roman conquest, TRAC 2018 Session 2d, 12.04.2018 
  • Behind every great (Ro)man. A case study on north-west Italian mortuary archaeology in the wake of the Roman conquest, EAA 2018 Session 700, 06.09.2018
  • Wer bin ich? Und wenn ja, wieviele? Identities in the wake of the Roman conquest, EAA 2018 Session 696, 08.09.2018

Public talks:

  • The change and expression of identities in/through material culture, Leicester Adult Education College, Lunchtime Lectures, 23.02.2018


Social Media Presence:


IARSS 2016 - The 19th Iron Age Research Student Symposium  Follow us on facebook and twitter!

We are pleased to announce that, in partnership with the University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham, the 19th Iron Age Research Student Symposium (IARSS) will be held at the University of Leicester between the 19th and 22nd of May 2016.


IARSS is a research student focused conference, designed to serve as a platform for new researchers to share their projects and collaborate with others. Although IARSS is advertised as being for Iron Age researchers, contributions from those colleagues examining closely related or overlapping periods, such as the Late Bronze Age, are also welcome. In addition to papers which examine aspects of the British Iron Age, we invite colleagues colleagues examining the Iron Age in other regions of the world, including but not limited to, Ireland, continental Europe and the Near East.




CDF Events:

‘Put Your Maps to Work’: Introduction to ArcGIS (10.3) →   ‘Put Your Maps to Work’ is the official ArcGIS slogan. We want to enable students to network over mapping, to share their experience and profit from professional knowledge exchange. The introduction to ArcGIS (10.3) will be a training event in April – May 2016 at the University of Leicester, where four three-hour workshops (each with a 30 minute networking break) will be delivered. It is designed to teach students the fundamentals of the program which can then be used for their own research purposes. At the end of the four workshops, each attendee will receive a certificate of participation. 



Registration and more information:



Routes to a career within heritage and archaeology – an Alternative Field Trip! →  

‘The Alternative Field Trip’ is designed to prompt Arts and Humanities students to consider alternative career paths, especially those that coincide with the cultural industry and outreaching institutions such as museums. Therefore, the workshop is designed around three career 'streams':


  • Focus on Finds: these sessions will not only offer instruction on identification and handling of exhibits in a museum context but give a glimpse into the world behind the scenes of the museum and the interpretive choices made when collecting and presenting objects.
  • Making Objects Speak: three sessions will address different aspects of showcasing artefacts through illustration, 3D reconstruction and curatorial skills, opening career prospects from universities to documentary filming.
  • Forging Your Path: these sessions will address some of the potential career paths in the broad field of heritage management and public engagement. Transferrable skills exploring dissemination of research and collaboration with science and those relating to education, outreach, finding funding and project planning will be presented. 

We have designed these subject-specific and non-specialist workshops to appeal to a broad audience. The sessions will be facilitated by professionals who will act as pathfinders to careers in the cultural industries. Each session will, therefore, begin with a short reflection of the speaker’s career path and close with Q&A to provide students with an opportunity to address their specific questions.