Welcome to the website of the Leiden University Landscapes of Early Roman Colonization project. This archaeological research project, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), explores the role of non-urban settlements in Roman colonial expansion in the formative phase of the Roman Empire (4th-1st centuries BC).

This website offers more information about the scope, outline and methodology of this project, as well as overviews of our team members and their individual research, relevant publications and past/upcoming activities, such as lectures, workshops and conferences.
Another section of this website is devoted to ongoing and previous fieldwork projects in the regions of Molise and Basilicata – Southern Italy (see map below).

Please feel free to contact us for more information.


New and upcoming project publications:

Motivazioni e forme alternative dell’espansionismo romano repubblicano.

Il caso delle colonie latine nelle aree interne appenniniche.

T.D. Stek (2017)

In: G. Mastrocinque (ed.), Paesaggi mediterranei di età romana: Archeologia, tutela, comunicazione, Edipuglia, Bari, pp. 135-146

As known, Roman territorial expansion has often been equated with drastic change in the towns and landscapes that were colonised. Urbanism (towns) and agricultural production in well ordered hinterlands (farms, centuriation) are key in this model. This paper argues that new archaeological evidence from two colonies in Central and South Italy shows instead divergent patterns, and proposes that these patterns reflect a different logic behind early colonial settlement than the one expected accepting the agricultural city-state model. Large rural sites as villages and hilltop sites play important roles in such divergent settlement strategies, and the paper presents some archaeological methods to integrate such sites better in field survey projects.

Order online through Edipuglia.


The Archaeology of Imperial Landscapes

A Comparative Study of Empires in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean World

Bleda S. Düring & Tesse D. Stek (eds.)
Cambridge University Press (2018)

The Archaeology of Imperial Landscapes examines the transformation of rural landscapes and societies that formed the backbone of ancient empires in the Near East and Mediterranean. Through a comparative approach to archaeological data, it analyses the patterns of transformation in widely differing imperial contexts in the ancient world. Bringing together a range of studies by an international team of scholars, the volume shows that empires were dynamic, diverse, and experimental polities, and that their success or failure was determined by a combination of forceful interventions, as well as the new possibilities for those dominated by empires to collaborate and profit from doing so. By highlighting the processes that occur in rural and peripheral landscapes, the volume demonstrates that the archaeology of these non-urban and literally eccentric spheres can provide an important contribution to our understanding of ancient empires. The ‘bottom up’ approach to the study of ancient empires is crucial to understanding how these remarkable socio-political organisms could exist and persist.

Read online or order through Cambridge University Press.


Overview map of past and ongoing fieldwork projects; click blue placemarks for more info.

Field survey in the area of San Giovanni in Galdo 2005 (photo J. Pelgrom)

Field survey in the area of San Giovanni in Galdo 2005 (photo Jeremia Pelgrom)

© 2017 Landscapes of Early Roman Colonization project, Faculty of Archaeology – Leiden University

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s