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Classics, Defence, Eternity, Governance, Travel

The Cities of Roman Africa – Gareth Sears

Dr Gareth Sears – Lecturer in Ancient History

Gareth Sears is a lecturer in Roman History at the University of Birmingham. He is a specialist on Roman North Africa and the late Roman period. Since 2004 he has been a member of the Cyrenaica Archaeological project, an international mission for the study of the Roman city of Cyrene in Libya. He lives in Birmingham.

Current Research

Most of my work is connected with the late Roman city, particularly in Africa, both as a construct in its own right but also as the prime venue for the production of the literary and epigraphic texts that comprise a key aspect of our evidence for late Roman and late antique life. I also study it as the location of the religious conflicts that, at times, dominate the literature of the era. I am currently doing research on religion and religious change in the cities of late Roman Africa, considering issues around the survival of traditional religious practice and belief into the fifth and sixth centuries AD and syncretism between traditional beliefs and Christianity.  I have just completed two books. The Cities of Roman Africa on the evolution of urban space from the pre-Roman period until the fall of Carthage to the Vandals in AD 439 that also explores issues of social, economic and religious change and continuity. The second book, which I have written along with Dr Ray Laurence (Kent) and Dr Simon Esmonde Cleary (Birmingham), examines the evolution of the city across the provinces of the western Roman Empire during the Roman Republic and early Empire.  The City in the Roman West: 250 BC to AD 250 not only compares the processes occurring in the different regions of the West but explores the changes through an examination of different building types and, more importantly, the activities that took place in them.

I am currently working on several projects.  I am a co-director of the Birmingham team, alongside a team from Bradford, in a project in Split and the Cetina Valley in Croatia. This project undertook a field mission in and around Split in June-July 2009 investigating the subsurface remains of rural sites in the Cetina valley with Ground Penetrating Radar and Magnetometry. We also used a Ground Penetrating Radar to investigate the remains of Diocletian’s Palace in Split and intend to tie the results of those investigations with a 3D model of the Mausoleum of Diocletian the current Cathedral of Split that was created using a 3D laser scanner. The group intends to undertake further fieldwork in 2011.

Laser Scanning and Ground Penetrating Radar in Split

Previous Research

I am the co-director of the Birmingham team in the Cyrenaica Archaeological Project (CAP), an international mission for the examination of the city of Cyrene, Libya, and its hinterland (see www.cyrenaica.org  ).  Two seasons have taken place so far.  In June-July 2006 a team from the University of Birmingham (Prof. Vince Gaffney, Dr Helen Goodchild, Richard Cutler, Dr Gareth Sears) and the University of Alberta in Edmonton undertook a topographical survey using a differential GPS in the CAP concession area around the extramural Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone in the Wadi Bel Gadir.  In June 2007 a team from the University of Birmingham (Prof. Vince Gaffney, Dr Chris Gaffney, Dr Andy Howard, Dr Helen Goodchild, Richard Cutler, Dr Gareth Sears) again travelled to Libya to undertake 3D laser scanning and panoramic photography in the Sanctuary of Demeter and Persephone and in the upper town and to use a Foerster ferex magnetometer on the Acropolis and other intramural areas. The results of these seasons are being prepared for interim publication but Birmingham Archaeology reports are already available (see below).

In 2007 I published a book on the cities of North Africa during the later Roman Empire stemming from my PhD research in 2007. Late Roman African Urbanism considers the development of the cities of North Africa during the Later Roman Empire (AD 284-439). This work considers the evolution of the city away from the ‘classical’ Roman city in the region as well as the maintenance of the urban tradition and compares these developments to those occurring elsewhere in the Roman Empire in this period.

Postgraduate Supervision

  • Urbanism in the Roman Empire and in particular North Africa
  • The evolution of the late Roman city
  • Christianity and Christians in North Africa (pre AD. 450); in particular heresy and schism and their sociological background and the relationship between Christians and non-Christians in the African cities.
  • Paganism and syncretism in the later Roman Empire
  • Aspects of the history of the later Roman Empire

See publications & more details here


About steveblizard

Steve Blizard commenced his financial planning career in 1988 from a background of life insurance broking, a field in which he still works. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association and the Responsible Investment Association. His experience ranges from administration of Superannuation to advice regarding insurance, retirement, remuneration and investment planning. Steve is an accredited Remuneration Consultant, specialising in salary packaging. He is a columnist for the Swan Magazine and the WA Business News



  1. Pingback: Late Roman Period | Healthy Pregnancy Guide - August 1, 2011

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