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The University of Southampton
Archaeology Part of Humanities

ERC Advanced Grant Funded Research Studentship 2014-2017 in the field of Roman Mediterranean Ports (1)

Published: 3 June 2014

This is one of three funded studentships that form part of the ERC funded project Rome's Mediterranean Ports (RoMP) directed by Simon Keay in conjunction with Pascal Arnaud. The aim of this particular PhD studentship will be to develop ‘keys’ for understanding literary evidence relating to Roman ports.

Scope of Studentship

Timosthenes of Rhodes, a one-time admiral of Ptolemy II, wrote the first known portolan of the Mediterranean called limenes. He had invented the model for a long lasting tradition of port-based descriptions of the Mediterranean, that have been one of the main sources of geographical information down to the late Roman Empire. Along with topographical descriptions, such as Pausanias’ Description of Greece, ancient historians and geographers provide us with a huge range of information about ancient harbours.

K. Lehmann-Hartleben (1923) has made great use of this kind of data. It is therefore clear that an annotated catalogue of available literary evidence of this kind relating to individual ports would have huge value for future research, helping archaeologists define geo-archaeological coring strategies for locating harbour or port sites etc. However, using this kind of data is not unproblematic and it is crucial to better understand the Greek and Latin vocabulary that is used to describe ports before contemplating analysis. Even the meaning of the commonest words usually translated by « ports » (e.g. limèn or portus), for example, may refer to a reality which cannot be simply reduced to our modern term « port ». Previous attempts by U. Finzenhagen (1939), J. Rougé (1966) and, more recently J.-M. Kowalski (2012) have revealed the great complexity of these notions. A place said to be « alimenos » was not necessarily « portless », but was instead deprived of what a Greek speaker meant when he used the word « limèn ». Deciphering the meaning of this and other terms relating to ports in many of their known contexts (several thousand for the word limèn), and ground-truthing it with available archaeological evidence, must be preliminary steps to preparing a meaningful catalogue of evidence.

The University invites applications for this research studentship. The precise choice of research issues to be addressed will lie with the student, the final choice will be made in liaison with Professors Arnaud and Keay to ensure that it addresses the overall project aims. However, a necessary first step in the research will be the creation of an inventory of the port vocabulary and its primary sources, after which the student will need to address issues relating to its meaning, including the evolution of terms and contaminations between Greek and Latin terms and reconciliation of these with available archaeological information. The student will also contribute to the annotated catalogue of ports mentioned by literary sources of the Imperial period the compilation of the archaeological resource for c. 30 ports, both of which are key outcomes of the project.

All of the material necessary for this research has been published, and is mainly available on line. Languages are Latin and Greek. A good knowledge of Latin will be key. A previous knowledge of ancient Geography and Periplography (Latin and Greek) would also be very advantageous.

The studentship will be held in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Southampton under the supervision of Prof. Simon Keay, in conjunction with Prof. Pascal Arnaud of the University of La Lumière Lyon, as part of a joint supervision arrangement. The PhD is tenable for a maximum of three years commencing September 2014, at an annual maintenance stipend of c. £15000. Fees, at the UKEU rate, will also be covered. Preference will be given in the selection of the successful student for an applicant who can read and speak English and French. It is envisaged that the student will need to spend a period of time at the University of Lyon. There will also be termly seminars at the Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford.

For further details contact: Simon Keay ( or Pascal Arnaud ( as soon as possible and in no case later than the 27th June.

Entry requirements: The minimum of a good 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) and a Masters in a relevant discipline.

Please email Simon Keay and Pascal Arnaud two documents: a 500-600 word research proposal outlining the project, methodology and indicative bibliography; and a personal statement of no more than 400 words explaining how your project fits the scheme. Please also arrange for two academic references to be sent independently by the deadline.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for one or two SKYPE interviews in late June/early July

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