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Prof. Christopher Smith

Professor of Ancient History
On secondment as Director of the British School at Rome, 2009-17

Research profile

Research Interests

The social and economic development of early Rome & Latium, particularly as evidenced through archaeology and comparative developments in the southern and eastern Mediterranean.  Within this, I have addressed general aspects of urbanization and state formation.

The evolution and legal and symbolic significance of republican political institutions, particularly the gens,  and how these were characterised by contemporary sources  and interpreted in the modern historiography of the subject from Sigonio to Vico, Lewis Henry Morgan, Engels and Marx to the current day.

My interest in historiography, with a specific interest in fragmentary Roman historians, extends to Greek historiography and to writers such as Plutarch, Pliny the Elder and Aulus Gellius, who are our sources for much fragmentary literature, as well as the periods of the late Republic which generated the most substantial historical accounts. This in turn has led to work on Cicero.

Currently I am completing a general account of the place of history in Roman society, looking at the use of inscriptions, monuments and texts and using concepts such as lieux de memoire and social memory to understand more clearly the development of Roman historiography.


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No publications returned within given parameters for the person cjs6

For further information on publications, please view my profile on the university's research portal.

Research students

I have supervised successful doctoral theses on Women in the 5th century Greek myth and tragedy, and Rome and Sicily during the Punic Wars; Roman provincial administration in Sicily in the time of Verres; and the language of popular politics in the late Republic

I have engaged my research students in publication and other research activity and I believe this is a very important part of my role as a supervisor.  Two of my research students have edited conference proceedings with me for publication; and others have been involved in digitisation projects, running conferences, or in editorial assistance (JRS reviews and CAH Plates).  Of my former PhD students, one is employed as a classics teacher, and two have academic positions in American or Canadian higher education institutions.  I regularly attend and speak at the American Philological Association. 

I am very interested in creating groups of students to work together.  Areas where I think there could be exciting work for us include Roman historiography and oratory, and all aspects of Republican Roman history, but especially early Rome, and the politics of the middle and late republic.  Roman religion in the Republic is an area where I have published and hope to continue to work and a recent stay at the British School at Rome reminded me how many opportunities there are still to work on archaic Italic society and microhistories of individual communities. 

I would welcome approaches from any student, including international students, to discuss their ideas for potential research topics.


My predominant interests are in Roman Republican history and political theory.  I co-ordinated the taught masters course in Ancient History, and collaborate with colleagues in International Relations on the Masters in International Political Thought.