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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Professor Anna Leone, PhD

Professor in the Department of Archaeology
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41140
Room number: 211

Contact Professor Anna Leone (email at


I took my first degrees in Turin and at the "Scuola di Specializzazione" at the University La Sapienza - Rome. I then completed my PhD at the University of Leicester. I have worked on several excavations in central and southern Italy and in North Africa, in particular in Carthage (Tunisia) and in Libya (Fazzan). I worked at the University of Oxford as research assistant to the Professor of Roman Archaeology, where I developed my interest in the topography of Rome. My research and publications focus on the problems related to the evolution of North African cities from Late Antiquity to the Arab conquest and to issues of the economy of te Maditerranean between the 6th and the 9th c. I am also working on a joint project with the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut (Rome Department - Dr Ralf Bockmann) on the impact of the Arab conquest on north Africa. I currently preparing for publication an excavation done in the '70s in Syria (Dibsi Faraj) of a fortified citadel occupied from the 1st-3rd c. AD to the 10th c.

Roman Archeology
My interests in Roman Archaeology focus on different aspects.
In Rome I have co-directed with Dr. D. Palombi (Università La Sapienza) the project at the villa dei Gordiani along the via Prenestina.
I am also interested in architecture and statuary. In particular I have published two papers on the cult of Mercury Sober in the city of Rome and a study of the statuary group of the Dioscuroi found in Cori (South Latium). Studying several fragments I proposed a reconstruction of the statuary group (now visible at the Museum of Cori). In my recent book "The End of the Pagan City" I also considered the fate of statuary and building material after the closure of temples. Recently my research has focused on recycling and spolia.

I have been working for a long time and published several articles on Roman pottery in Rome, Italy and North Africa. I have a good knowledge of all the classes of pottery that circulated in the Mediterranean from the Republican period to the 7th/8th century AD and beyond. I am interested in all the aspects related to the pottery studies (economy, trade, consumption, problems of chronologies etc.). I have however experience on the study of a number of artefacts, including glass, marble decoratioons.

Roman,Byzantine and early Arab Urbanism
My interest on this aspect started with my PhD, that I have now published. The principal aim of the book was to examine the complex sequence of transition in the selected provinces of Zeugitana, Byzacena and Tripolitana of late Roman North Africa. The general analysis (based on historical sources, epigraphy and archaeological evidence) focuses on transitions in town and country and economy from Roman to Vandal and to Byzantine rule and observing patterns and facets of continuity and change. The period in question from AD 300 to AD 700, spans more that political transitions: it sees the adoption of Christianity (during the Las Imperial period and the Byzantine times), the Vandal rule and the adoption of Arianism and the Arab/Muslim imposition. It is also a period of archaeological and material transition: towns and economic system change, public structures (but not churches) decay. I have analysed how classical towns changed through centuries, how building were reused and progressively transformed.
I am currently working on the publication of the excavation of the Fortified citadel of Dibsi Faraj (Syria). The very rich and important site was excavated in the '70s under the direction of Richard Harper. The archive of the excavation and numerous finds are now at Durham University. The site was occupiedfrom the 1st- 3rd century into probably the 10th c. AD, the most important phase of occupation dates to the Byzantine period with the construction of two churches.

Paganism and Christianity
My last book published in 2013 by Oxford University Press, The End of the Pagan City, focuses primarily on the end of the pagan religious tradition and the dismantling of its material form in North Africa (modern Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) from the 4th to the 6th centuries AD. It considers how urban communities changed, why some traditions were lost and some others continued, and whether these carried the same value and meaning upon doing so. Addressing two main issues, mainly from an archaeological perspective, the volume explores the change in religious habits and practices, and the consequent recycling and reuse of pagan monuments and materials, and investigates to what extent these physical processes were driven by religious motivations and contrasts, or were merely stimulated by economic issues.

My interests in landscape archaeology started from my PhD, where I looked at the transformation of the countryside from Late Antiquity to the Arab conquest. I am currently focussing on the clergy and the progressive acquisition of estates and properties by the Clergy and the rise of the Church as an economic and secular power. I am also particularly interested in looking at the transformations occurred in rural villas in Late Antiquity and early medieval period.

I am currently working (in co-operation with my colleague Ralf Bockmann at the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut - Rome) on the Arab expansion in north Africa, with a specific focus on Tripolitania. The work has started since 2014 in co-operation with the Department of Antiquities of Libya. the major focus on this first part of the project has been on the Gebel Nafusa. The work has also included a series of GIS training courses for Staff of the Department of Antiquities of Libya. The project is also finalized to train local archaeologists on the field and on recording, managing and protecting the Cultural Heritage after the conflict. Results of the project will be part of the new plans of the Department of Antiquities to create a complete archive of the archaeological remains on the territory. The project will combine interpretation of satellite images, landscape extensive survey and GIS recording, as well as geophysical investigation of the Salama fort area and stratigraphic analysis and recording of the standing structures (the Medieval Salama fort and the nearby mosque, cisterns and Roman farms). In the longer term the project will also include extensive excavation. The project is in co-operation with the Deutsches Archäologische Institut – Rome (Dr R. Bockmann) and the University of Msurata (Dr H. Abdouli). The work has now expanded to the whole of Libya, to include also Cyrenaica. The project is developing with the fieldwork on the site of Iunca (Borj Younga - Tunisia). The project will include training of Libyan and Tunisian archaeologists as well as research on the site.

Work to prevent looting and illicit traffic

I am currently leading a project which include the creation of an app for fast recording of archaeological objets on site and in storerooms. the project is currently piloted in Libya.

Fieldwork project in Sicily
I have directed the survey project in Sicily. The project research area on the north-western slopes of Etna includes the territories of the comuni of Bronte,Maletto and Maniace in the provincia di Catania and focuses,in particular, on the area located in the upper valley of the river Simeto that is formed at the confluence of the Saracena, Acuto and Martello rivers. The project is now in preparation for publication

Research Students
I have supervised students working on: the rural sanctuaries of Syria, the 3rd century crisis in Egypt, the Pithais in Classical and Roman Greece, The fate of Statuary in Late Antique and Byzantine Cyprus. I am currently supervising PhD on: Water systems in Nabataean Petra, private Architecture and its decoration in Late Antique Greece, Water and Christianity in Isreal, The transition or Sasanian cities into the Islamic period, The Arab expansion in Cyrenaica. If you have any idea for a PhD research that you want to discuss with me, feel free to email me.

Research Groups

Department of Archaeology

  • Heritage Partnerships
  • Landscapes of Complex Society

Research Projects

Department of Archaeology

Research Interests

  • Archaeology in North Africa
  • Late Antique urbanism in North Africa and the near East
  • Roman and Byzantine pottery
  • Roman Economy
  • Roman, Byzantine Sicily
  • Topography of Rome

Selected Publications

Authored book

Edited book

Chapter in book

  • Leone, A. (2018). Urban decor and public spaces in late antique North Africa. In Entre civitas y madīna. El mundo de las ciudades en la Península Ibérica y en el norte de África (siglos IV‑IX). Panzram, S. & Callegarin, L. Madrid: Casa de Velázquez. 379-391.
  • Leone, A. (2017). From the Classical to the Medieval City: Fora in Late Antique and Byzantine North Africa. In "Cités et religions dans l’Afrique tardive (IIIe-VIIe siècle après J.-C.)" en hommage à Claude Lepelley. Éditions Hermann - Collection AOROC.
  • Leone, Anna (2016). Tracing the Donatist Presence in North Africa: An Archaeological Perspective. In The Donatist Schism. Controversy and Contexts. Miles, Richard Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 317-344.
  • Leone, A. & (with minor contributions from J. N. Dore† and H. Eckardt) (2013). 13. Pottery from the FP project excavation in Jarma. In The Archaeology of Fazzān. Volume 4, Survey and Excavations at Old Jarma (Ancient Garama) carried out by C. M. Daniels (1962-69) and the Fazzān Project (1997-2001). Mattingly, D. J., Daniels, C. M., Dore, J. N., Edwards, D., Leone, A. & Thomas, D. C. London: Society for Libyan Studies. 4: 325-408.
  • Leone, A. & Moussa, F. (2012). Roman North Africa and Sahara. In Oxford handbook of African Archaeology. Lane, P. & Michell, P. Oxford University Press. 1.
  • Edwards, D.N., Mattingly D.J., Daniels, C.M., with contributions from, Dore, J.N. & Leone, A. (2010). Excavations and survey at Tinda, al Khara'iq and Ikhlif Escarpment Settlements. In The Archaeology of Fazzan. Vol. 3, Excavations of C.M. Daniels. Mattingly, D.J. London: The Society for Libyan Studies. 3.
  • Mattingly, D.J., HAwthorne, J., Daniels, C.M., With contributions from, Dore, J.N., Leone, A. & Cole, F. (2010). Excavations at the Classic Garamantian Settlement of Saniat Jibril. In The Archaeology of Fazzan. Vol. 3, Excavations of C.M. Daniels. Mattingly D.J. London: The Society for Lybian Studies. 3.
  • Edwards, D.N., Mattingly, D.J., Daniels, C.M., with contributions from, Dore, J.N. & Leone, A. (2010). Excavations of other Garamantian Cemeteries and Burials. In The Archaeology of Fazzan. Vol. 3, Excavations of C.M. Daniels. Mattingly, D.J. London: The Society for Libyan Studies. 3.
  • Mattingly, D.J., Hawthorne, J., Daniels, C.M., with contributions from, Dore, J.N., Leone, A., Kenrick, Ph. & Tagart, C. (2010). The Garamantian Cemetery of Saniat Bin Huwaydi. In The Archaeology of Fazzan. Vol. 3, Excavations of C.M. Daniels. Mattingly D.J. London: The Society for Libyan Studies. 3.
  • Hawthorne,J., Mattingly,D.J., Daniels, C.M., with contributions from, Barnett, T., Dore, J.N. & Leone, A. (2010). Zinkekra: an Early Garamantian Escarpement Settlement and Associated Sites. In The Archaeology of Fazzan. Vol. 3, Excavations of C.M. Daniels. Mattingly, D.J. London: The Society for Libyan Studies. 3: 19-84.
  • Leone, A. (2007). Christianity and Paganism, IV: North Africa. In The Cambridge History of Christianity.2. Constantine to c.600. Casiday A., & Norris F.W. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2: 231-247.
  • Dore, J. N., Leone, A. & Hawthorne, J. (2007). Section 41. The Pottery Type Series. In The Archaeology of Fazzan Volume 2, Site Gazetteer, Pottery and other Survey finds. Mattingly, D.J., Daniels, C.M., Dore, J.N., Edwards, D. & Hawthorne, J. London: Society for Libyan Studies. II: 305-431.
  • Leone,A., Witcher, R., Privitera, F. & Spigo, U. (2007). The Upper Simeto Valley Poject. An interim report of the first season. In Understanding Upland Landscapes: Interdisciplinary Investigations of Sicily. Fitzjohn, M. London: Accordia Research Institute.
  • Leone, A. (2006). Changing Urban Landscapes: Burials in North African Cities from the Late Antique to Byzantine periods. In Mortuary Landscape in North Africa. D. Stone & L. Stirling Toronto: Toronto University Press.
  • Leone, A. & Mattingly, D.J. (2004). Vandal, Byzantine and Arab Rural Landscapes in North Africa. In Landscapes of Change: Rural Evolutions in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Christie, N. Aldershot: Ashgate. 135-162.
  • Leone, A. (2003). Topographies of production in the cities of late antique North Africa. In Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology. Lavan, L. & Bowden, W. Leiden: Brill. 257-287.
  • Leone, A. (2000). Darius rex a Nemi. In Rome: 29-34.
  • Leone, Anna (1999). Change or no Change? Revised Perceptions of Urban Transformation in Late Antiquity. In Leicester: 121-130.
  • Leone, A. (1999). I manufatti Greci e Romani nel museo del Cairo. In La Collezione del Museo del Cairo. F. Tiradritti Vercelli: White Star. 488-409.
  • Leone, A. (1997). Terrecotte dell’Egitto Greco-Romano. In Enciclopedia dell’Arte Antica Classica e Orientale. Roma: Secondo Supplemento 1971-1994, V.
  • Leone, A. (1996). Un’Adultera Meretrix a Bulla Regia: alcuni aspetti della città tardoantica. In 11: 1371-1383.

Journal Article

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Social sciences: Rome, Roman Italy, North Africa and the Near East. Late Antique, Byzantine, Early Islamic North Africa
  • Roman, Greek & ancient civilisations:


Indicators of Esteem

  • 2017: member of the Scientific Committe:

    Member of the conseil scientifique de la collection de monographie que le laboratoire en sciences de l’Antiquité (AOROC) de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure et du CNRS vient d’ouvrir aux éditions Hermann à Paris (collection « Histoire et archéologie »).

  • 2017: member of the Scientific Committe:

    Member of the scientific council of the journal Cartagine/ Studi e Ricerche

  • 2015: Editor of the Academic Journal - Libyan Studies:
  • 2012: Invited speaker to the Conference on the 8th century: The End of Late Antiquity?- Oxford All Souls College:
  • 2011: Invited speaker on 'Recycling statues in Late Antique North Africa' at the Conference 'Recycling the Roman Wolrd' at The University of Manitoba (Canada):
  • 2011: Invited speaker on 'Vandal Evergetism in North Africa' at the Conference 'Rulers and the Patronage of Buildings in the 5th- and 6th-century Mediterranean' at the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity:
  • 2009: Members of the Council of the Society for Libyan Studies(

Selected Grants

  • 2017: Training in Action - Cultural Protection Funds (£657.000)
  • 2010: Knott Fellowship - IAS (university of Durham)
  • 2009: BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND PAGANS (£16161.00 from Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • 2007: Grant from the Institute of Advanced Studies Durham for the conference Cities and Gods (£1000)
  • 2007: THE UPPER SIMETO VALLEY PROJECT (£7475.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2006: Rosemary Cramp funds for the conference Cities and Gods (£1000)
  • 2006: THE VILLA OF THE GORDIANI AT THE 3RD MILE (£5635.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2005: LACUS IUTURNAE (£13955.26 from Academy of Finland)