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Durham University

Department of Classics and Ancient History


Dr Edmund Thomas, MA (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon), PGCE (KCL), MSc Econ (Aberystwyth)

Departmental Rep (Classics) of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies

Contact Dr Edmund Thomas (email at


Edmund Thomas is Associate Professor in Ancient Visual and Material Culture and Director of the Durham Centre for Classical Reception. His main research interests are Roman architecture and its relation to Roman society and culture and the reception of ancient architectural traditions in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and Baroque periods. His book Monumentality and the Roman Empire: Architecture in the Antonine Age (Oxford University Press) appeared in 2007. He has written articles on the Pantheon and Septizodium in Rome, on Severan architecture and on Roman epigraphy, Roman sarcophagi and architectural aesthetics, and has jointly authored a work on the historical topography of Winchester from the late Iron Age to 1800 for the Historic Towns Atlas series, also to be published by OUP. He has spent lengthy periods of research in Rome and has been involved in archaeological excavations at Butrint in Albania. He is also a qualified archivist and has a special interest in the description and management of architectural drawings. He is presently completing a study of the spirally fluted column in antiquity, sponsored by the British Academy and the Council for British Research in the Levant, and is preparing two books, Words on Buildings: relations between architecture and text since antiquity, and Keystones: dialogues between architecture, philosophy, and politics. He is also co-editing a volume of papers on the materiality of inscribed texts in Greek and Roman antiquity with his colleagues Andrej and Ivana Petrovic, arising from a conference at Durham University in September 2012. Recent papers include a study of the spiral column from antiquity to the Baroque and "The ancient architecture of southern Italy and the music of the cosmos", exploring the connections between Pythagorean ideas and the architecture of Greek temples and ancient arches in southern Italy. He is presently working on the reception of Roman architecture in the Renaissance and the doctrine of the cosmic harmony for an edited volume on cosmic harmony in the Renaissance.

Research Interests

  • Roman Architecture
  • Monumentality
  • Ancient Aesthetics
  • Roman Epigraphy
  • Classicism
  • Roman Sarcophagi
  • Vitruvius
  • Light in Architecture
  • Spirally fluted columns

Selected Publications

Authored book

Edited book

Chapter in book

  • Thomas, Edmund (Accepted). The Theatres of Gaius Curio and the Evolution of the Baroque. In Architecture and Text. Fane-Saunders, Peter Cambridge Universuty Press.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2020). Movement through Ruins: Re-experiencing Ancient Baalbek with Jean de la Roque. In Early Modern Spaces in Motion: Design, Experience and Rhetoric. Skelton, Kimberley Amsterdam University Press.
  • Foegen, Thorsten & Thomas, Edmund (2017). Interactions between Animals and Humans in Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Introduction. In Interactions between Animals and Humans in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Foegen, Thorsten & Thomas, Edmund Berlin: De Gruyter. 1-18.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2017). Performance Space. In The Oxford Handbook of the Second Sophistic. Johnson, William A. & Richter, Daniel S. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 181-201.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2017). Urban Geographies of Human-Animal Relations in Classical Antiquity. In Interactions between Animals and Humans in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. Foegen, Thorsten & Thomas, Edmund Berlin: De Gruyter. 339-368.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2015). Roman Architecture as Art?. In A Companion to Roman Art. Borg, Barbara Wiley Blackwell. 344-364.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2015). The beauties of architecture. In A companion to ancient aesthetics. Destrée, Pierre & Murray, Penelope Wiley Blackwell. 274-290.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2013). Introduction: Religious Architecture in the Roman Empire, East and West. In Cities and Gods: Religious Space in Transition. Kaizer, Ted, Leone, Anna, Thomas, Edmund & Witcher, Robert Peeters Publishers. 7-8.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2013). The Severan Period. In A Companion to Roman Architecture. Ulrich, Roger & Quenemoen, Caroline Wiley-Blackwell. 82-105.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2013). Translating Roman architecture into Greek regional identities. In Les Grecs héritiers des Romains – The Greeks Heirs of the Romans 59e Entretiens sur l’Antiquité classique de la Fondation Hardt du 27 au 31 août 2012. Schubert, Paul Geneva: Fondation Hardt. 59: 147-202.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2011). ‘Houses of the dead’? Columnar sarcophagi as ‘micro-architecture’. In Life, death and representation: some new work on Roman sarcophagi. Elsner, Jas & Huskinson, Janet Berlin: De Gruyter. 387-435.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2010). Architecture. In The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies. Barchiesi, Alessandro & Scheidel, Walter Oxford University Press. 838-858.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2007). Metaphor and identity in Severan architecture: the Septizodium between reality and fantasy. In Severan Culture. Swain, Simon, Harrison, Stephen & Elsner, Jas Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 327-367.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2006). 'Atrium', 'Palace', 'Portico', 'Forum'. In The Harvard Companion to the Classical Tradition. Grafton, Anthony, Most, Glenn & Settis, Salvatore Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Thomas, Edmund (2004). From the Pantheon of the Gods to the Pantheon of Rome. In Pantheons: Transformations of a monumental idea. Wrigley, R. & Craske, M. Aldershot: Ashgate. 11-34.
  • Thomas, Edmund (1998). AB URBE CONDITA TRI[.]: A new commemoration of the imperial tribunician powers from the imperial vicus (Castelporziano). In Castelporziano III: Campagne di scavo e restauro 1987-1991. Lauro, Maria Giuseppina Rome: Viella. 137-149.

Journal Article

Conference Paper

  • Thomas, Edmund (1994), The monumentality of the basilica stoa at Thera and Antoninus Pius, in Xavier Dupré i Raventó&s eds, International Association of Classical Archaeology La ciutat en el món romà actes XIV Congrés Internacional d'Arqueologia Clàssica = La ciudad en el mundo romano: actas XIV Congreso Internacional de Arqueología Clásica. Tarragona, Spain, Comitè Organitzador del XIV C.I.A.C., Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Institut d'Estudis Catalans, Tarragona.

Conference Proceeding

Other (Digital/Visual Media)

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