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Prof. Rebecca Sweetman

Professor of Ancient History and Archaeology
Head of School

Phone: 01334 462606

Room: S10

Research profile

Research Interests

  • Art and Architecture of Roman and Late Antique Greece
  • Crete, the Cyclades and the Peloponnese
  • Roman and Late Antique mosaics
  • Religious architecture
  • Globalization and Christianization
  • Archaeological Fieldwork

Current research projects

I am currently working on two areas of Roman and Late Antique Greece. The first is a project concerning the topography of The Late Antique churches of the Peloponnese. Having undertaken a survey of all the surviving churches, I have been analysing the data to try to understand how the churches, and particularly their location, may have been used in the Christianization process. I am particularly interested in ideas of change through strategic processes (which would suggested a phased Christianization) and the use of memory in order to make the process an organic one that helps the incremental and multi-directional religious change. I am currently looking at areas outside the Peloponnese such as Crete, Cyprus and Lycia to see how the analysis of Late Antique church topography in the Peloponnese compares with other areas. This project has been generously funded by funded by the AHRC, RSE and Memoria Romana project.

I have recently turned my attention to the Cyclades in the Roman and Late Antique period. It is exciting to work on Roman material again and the Cyclades has proved to be incredibly interesting in terms of understanding what happens to the islands when they become part of the Empire. The islands have been written off by ancient sources as somewhat insular best used for exile. However, the archaeological data has thus far is indicating quite a diverse range of participation in the Empire. Additionally, the islands appear to have had Christian churches constructed on them quite a bit earlier than mainland Greece at least.

Both these projects allow me to look more broadly at the Roman and Late Antique east (particularly Crete!) and I have been writing context pieces on Roman and Late Antique Greece for Archaeology in Greece

Previous archaeological projects

Director of the Roman Kouphovouno Project: Funded by the British School at Athens, Roman Society and School of Classics, St Andrews

Co-director of the Sparta Basilica Project funded by the British School at Athens, British Academy and 5th Ephorea of Byzantine Antiques

August 2002: Co-director of Phylakopi Project, Melos funded by the British School at Athens, Institute for the Study of Aegean Prehistory and the Macdonald Institute


12-14th September 2007 conference: 100 Years of Solitude: Roman Colonies in the first
century of their foundation.


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

Research students

I am pleased to supervise PhDs in any of the fields mentioned above, particularly in areas of Roman and Late Antique Crete, the Cyclades and the Peloponnese. Students I have worked with have completed topics on Etruscan funerary rites and the Roman Army.

Current PhD Students

Jackie Whalen: researching evidence (or lack of) for Spartan Austerity

Hallvard Indgjerd: working on Late Antique and Byzantine Naxos in the Cyclades

Doug Forsyth: working on Crete and the Cyclades in the Early Iron Age


Teaching Areas

I contribute to the Archaeology and Ancient History Programmes in the School. For sub honours I contribute to the core Greek and Roman History modules in first and second year and I also teach some art and architecture sections of the CL2004 module. For my honours teaching I focus on Greek and Roman archaeology. I contribute to the core Archaeology module (AN3020) and at honours and sub honours I teach archaeological theory and methods classes (including hands on pottery using the collection of Cypriot material housed in the School of Classics). Some of my honours modules include the Archaeology of Minoan Crete (AN4149) and the Development of religious architecture (AN4424). In the Archaeology of Greece (AN4127) we spend part of our module touring the archaeological sites of Greece (primarily in Athens, Boeotia and the Peloponnese). My most recent module concerns the Archaeology of the Cyclades, from Bronze Age to Late Antique, with a particular focus on networks.

Teaching Resources

A number of learning resources have been developed to enhance the teaching, learning & assessment of Greek archaeology in St Andrews. Key among them is the 'Dwellings of the Gods' project which saw the production of an interactive archaeological map and database of images of sites and material culture. 

The design and development of these teaching resource projects has been funded by the FILTA and SELF award schemes of the University of St Andrews.

MLitt modules offered

  • The archaeology of the city of Athens
  • The archaeology of Greek religion
  • Archaic to Late Antique Sparta
  • Knossos: Minoan to Late Antique

We offer pottery handling sessions to primary and secondary schools in Fife and Tayside so do get in touch if you are interested.

Academic Career

My undergraduate degree from University College Dublin was in Archaeology and Classics. I spent a year on the excavation circuit and then started my PhD on Roman and Early Christian Mosaics of Crete at the University of Nottingham. This was largely funded by the British School at Athens and so Athens and Crete was where I happily spent most of the time working on my PhD. After a series of temporary jobs at the BSA (including Knossos Curator and Archivist I became Assistant Director of the BSA. I had a fantastic three years as AD before coming to St Andrews as a lecturer in Ancient History and Archaeology in 2003. I have been happily working at St Andrews since then and I have been fortunate to have been able to spend extended periods of research back in Athens over the years.

book cover

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