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Urban mega-projects in the Roman period and Late Antiquity: New approaches and future directions.

PhD course organised by Assistant professor Emanuele E. Intagliata (UrbNet, Aarhus University).


Due to COVID-19-related health concerns, the course will be offered online (Zoom) on November 10th, 2020.

The morning session will be open to the public. Those wishing to attend should write to Dr Emanuele Intagliata (e.e.intagliata@cas.au.dk) by no later than October 15th specifying their affiliation and the study programme in which they are enrolled – if applicable. They will be given a code that will allow access to the event.

The Ph.D. students who have expressed their interest in participating by the 7th Sept. 2020 deadline will be invited to an additional afternoon session.


Preliminary programme (final titles will follow soon)



09.00 – 9.15    Emanuele E. Intagliata: welcome and introduction

9.15 – 9.45      Rubina Raja: City walls of Jerash

9.45 – 10.15    Søren Munch Kristiansen: Overview of analytical techniques and new techniques for the study of urban mega-projects

10.15 – 10.45  Catharine Hof: City walls of Resafa


10.45 – 11.00  BREAK


11.00 – 11.30  Riley Snyder: Mortar analyses

11.30 – 12.00  Simon Barker: Spolia in urban mega-projects

12.00 – 12.30  Tom Brughmans: Roman roads

12.30 – 13.00  Emanuele Intagliata:  Archival studies and urban mega-projects. A case study



14.00 – 16.00  Debate panel (PhD students and speakers only)


Date: 10 Nov., 2020

ECTS credits (for those who submitted their applications before Nov. 7th): 2



Large-scale infrastructural projects, such as aqueducts and fortifications, were prerequisites for the existence of cities in the Roman and late antique periods. Their colossal size, however, could pose serious challenges for their construction. These could range from the necessity of maintaining a steady supply of resources over a long period, to the organization of large workforces. The study of the remains of these monuments is likewise not devoid of obstacles. On the one hand, their fragmentary state of preservation in modern urban settings poses significant problems for understanding their individual biographies. On the other, well-preserved monuments can be problematic to document owing to their size.

Despite these problems, the study of large-scale infrastructure remains of great importance. Water supply systems and fortifications can provide scholars not only with crucial details on the historical narrative of individual urban settlements, but also with insights into the ability of cities to deal with financially demanding infrastructural projects. Modern scholarship has traditionally approached the study of these monuments with an architectural perspective. However, the recent adoption of analytical approaches have considerably expanded the number of questions that archaeology can answer. These include, for example, changes in building processes and construction techniques and the impact of resource heavy infrastructural works on the surrounding natural landscape. This research-led course will provide the participants with an introduction to a diverse range of methodologies and approaches to the study of complex urban infrastructures, with specific focus on water supply systems, fortifications and roads in the Roman and late antique periods. In so doing, the course will provide a forum to discuss and reflect on how new research approaches are gradually transforming archaeology.



The course will offer research-led teaching on methods and techniques for the study of large-scale urban infrastructural projects and will focus on two main objectives:

·         To explore the importance of large infrastructural projects for urban archaeological research

·         To explore and discuss traditional and innovative approaches to monumental infrastructure.

The aim is to encourage students from archaeology and related disciplines from the humanities to consider and discuss the potential of applying innovative approaches to their own research. The course structure consists of three modules, as detailed below.



Professor Rubina Raja, CAS and UrbNet, Aarhus University;

Associate Professor Søren Munch Kristiansen, Aarhus University;

Associate Professor Tom Brughmans, UrbNet, Aarhus University;

Dr Riley Snyder, University of Edinburgh;

Dr Catharine Hof, Technische Universität, Berlin;

Dr Simon Barker, Universität Heidelberg;

Dr Emanuele Intagliata, UrbNet, Aarhus University.


Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, the participants should be able to:

·         Have an understanding of the benefits and limits of traditional and innovative approaches to the study of large-scale infrastructural projects.

·         Critically discuss and assess case studies.

·         Consider and assess the application of new approaches in their own work.



For program updates, please visit: http://urbnet.au.dk/news/phd-courses/