Department of Archaeology

Empires and Identities

Tomb of Saint John the Apostle

Our Department is examining empires collectively, to unpick how they evolved, influenced each other, and impacted upon the world in which we live today


Project information

For better or worse, modern global culture has been irrevocably transformed by the empires that have risen and fallen over the millennia. They have left legacies that endure in our politics, socio-economics, landscapes, environments and ideologies. All too often, different empires are considered in isolation from each other, even though successive powers drew upon those that went before them. Our department is examining empires collectively to unpick how they evolved, influenced each other and impacted upon the world in which we live today. 

Our staff research and teach on the Greco-Roman, Byzantine, Norman, Carolingian and British empires. Excavations on settlements, such as Caistor Roman town, investigate the manifestation of empires and identities with the built environment, whilst analysis of material remains charts the trade networks facilitated by imperial control. For instance, we study how the spread of spices can be used to reconstruct the trade networks of Roman, Medieval and early modern empires. 

Many of the plants and animals that we see around us today result from ancient imperial trade. For example, fallow deer were imported to Britain by the Normans, but by the 17th century were translocated, along with African slaves, to stock British colonies in the Caribbean. Today the fallow deer is not an icon of oppression but the national symbol of Antigua and Barbuda, and our research is informing the management of this culturally important species. We are looking at the role heritage can play in the management and development of ports in China which were originally established by the British Empire. We are working in other countries that have felt or resisted the impact of colonialism, notably through our research supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund.


  • Caistor Roman town
  • Butrint
  • Southwell Roman villa
  • Trade and Atlantic seaboards
  • Trade, organics and inorganic materials
  • Archaeologies of the Norman Conquest
  • Trade/connections in the late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Mediterranean
  • Norwich Houses
  • Bear-baiting in early modern England
  • Doghole Cave
  • Migration narratives: an archaeological perspective
  • Foodways of Roman and medieval Barcelona 
  • Roman Trade: network applications and exotics
  • Trade and Exchange along the Silk Road between the Middle East and China 


Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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