Universiteit Leiden

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Roman Provinces, Middle Ages and Modern Period


The conquest by Rome brought profound changes to large parts of Europe. Unprecedented infrastructural works such as roads and harbours were created, towns sprang up, a ribbon of fortresses was laid out along the frontiers and there is a vast increase in material culture to inform us about the lives of ordinary people.

To study the archaeology of the Roman Provinces, the Middle Ages and the Modern period at Leiden University means that you will learn about fundamental issues related to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire especially in its frontier regions (AD 0-450), about the transformation of the Roman World into Merovingian and Carolingian Europe (AD 450-900) and about the important process of urbanisation in late medieval and modern times (AD 1300-1900). Another opportunity is to follow classes on the Byzantine and Ottoman periods in the Mediterranean offered by staff members specialised in the Archaeology of the Near East.

Teaching and research is closely related which allows not only to learn about interpretative and theoretical aspects of the topics discussed but also to carry out empirical research on specific categories of material remains and take part in the excavations we organise. You will enjoy an fascinating mix of interpretative and practical work.

Fieldwork opportunities

Our fieldwork includes yearly campaigns in Udruh near Petra in Jordan, but you can also partake in the excavations of the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Project (England) to which we are related, or we help you with finding a dig in one of the Dutch towns or an excavation abroad using our extensive network in Europe.

We advocate an interdisciplinary approach to our ‘historical’ archaeology with a focus on the integrated use of written sources, material culture and scientific methods. We closely cooperate with the science department for instance on the study of human remains.

Three periods of transformation

We study three major developments of the last two millennia.

The first is the transformation of societies at the frontiers of the Roman Empire both at the most north-western frontier along the Rhine River in the Netherlands (the civitas of the Cananefates and Nijmegen) and the most south-eastern frontier in Jordan (the Udruh Archaeological Project).

The second is the transformation of the Roman world in northern Gaul (c 450-900 AD) in projects such as the ‘Anastasis project’, ‘Charlemagne’s Backyard?’ project and individual research by PhD’s and staff such as ‘In touch with the dead’.

The third is the process of Urbanisation in late medieval and modern times, with an accent on sanitation management in towns in the project ‘Challenging the paradigm of the filthy and unhealthy medieval towns’ and in the ‘Markets and Ports in perspective’ project.

Broad scope

Our scope is broad and in recent years we welcomed master's students from many parts of Europe and other parts of the world, but also a host of Dutch students interested in the archaeology of the Netherlands. We serve both equally well. Moreover we have a very enthusiastic and active group of Research Master's students. You can write a thesis on a topic covering the whole or any part of Europe or the archaeology of your hometown in the Netherlands or choose a topic related to our research.

Visit the pages of our research programmes and research projects via the links on our ‘overview page’ or have a look at our Master and Research Master programmes.

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