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Durham University

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Staff Profile

Dr Martin Sterry, BA Hons (Cardiff) MA and PhD (Leicester)

Teaching Fellow in the Department of Archaeology

(email at


  • Assistant Professor (Teaching Track), Durham University 2017-
  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Trans-Sahara, University of Leicester 2012-2017
  • Research Associate, Peopling the Desert, University of Leicester 2010-2012

Research Interests

Ancient Landscapes

This aspect of my research focusses on the relationships between agricultural intensification, expansion, and population demographics, especially with regard to the impact of these relationships on urbanisation and complex societies. I have explored these themes in my PhD looking at rural landscapes in pre-Roman and Roman Italy and in my post-doctoral positions in which I looked at oasis development across the Sahara. My current fieldwork project: the Middle Draa Project looks at a pre-desert zone in Morocco with significant evidence of oasis communities beyond the Roman frontier.

Geographical Information Science in Archaeology

A key element of my research lies in the development of novel techniques for analysing and visualising ‘Big Data’ in archaeology. This includes handling and processing large datasets of archaeological sites and assemblages especially for Roman Britain and and Roman North Africa.

Survey Archaeology

I am also interested in the use of satellite remote sensing, drone survey, structure-from-motion imaging, and fieldwalking to study Mediterranean landscapes. I have investigated the representativeness of survey results and constructed methodologies to compare the results from different regions, periods, and types of survey. I have also applied a similar approach to studying damage and threats to archaeology, especially in Libya.

Modelling ceramics from Roman Leicester

Research Interests

  • Pre-Roman and Roman North Africa
  • Data Science
  • Geographical Information Systems
  • Geomatics
  • Islamic Archaeology
  • Landscape Archaeology
  • Mediterranean archaeology
  • Pre-Roman and Roman Italy
  • Remote Sensing
  • Saharan Archaeology

Selected Publications

  • 1: Sterry, M. & Mattingly, D.J. (Accepted). Urbanisation and State-Formation in the Ancient Sahara and beyond. Trans-Saharan Archaeology.
  • 2: Gatto, Maria Carmela, Mattingly, David J., Ray, Nicholas & Sterry, Martin (Accepted). Burials, Migration and Identity in the Ancient Sahara and Beyond. Trans-Saharan Archaeology. Cambridge University Press and The Society for Libyan Studies.
  • 3: Sterry, Martin (2018). Multivariate and Spatial Visualisation of Archaeological Assemblages. Internet Archaeology (50).
  • 4: Cooper, Nicholas, Johnson, Elizabeth & Sterry, Martin (2018). Eating In and Dining Out in Roman Leicester: Exploring pottery consumption patterns across the town and its suburbs. Internet Archaeology (50).
  • 5: Mattingly, David J., Bokbot, Youssef, Sterry, Martin, Cuénod, Aurelie, Fenwick, Corisande, Gatto, Maria Carmela, Ray, Nick, Rayne, Louise, Janin, Katrien, Lamb, Andrew, Mugnai, Niccoló & Nikolaus, Julia (2017). Long-term History in a Moroccan Oasis Zone: The Middle Draa Project 2015. Journal of African Archaeology 15(2): 141-172.
  • 6: Mattingly, D.J., Leitch, V., Duckworth, C.N., Cuenod, A., Sterry, M. & Cole, F. (2017). Trade in the Ancient Sahara and beyond. Trans-Saharan Archaeology. Cambridge University Press.
  • 7: Mattingly, David J., Sterry, Martin J. & Edwards, David N. (2015). The origins and development of Zuwīla, Libyan Sahara: an archaeological and historical overview of an ancient oasis town and caravan centre. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa 50(1): 27-75.
  • 8: Mattingly, David, Sterry, Martin & Leitch, Victoria (2014). Fortified farms and defended villages of Late Roman and Late Antique Africa. Antiquité Tardive 21: 167-188.
  • 9: Sterry, M. & Mattingly, D. J. (2013). Desert Migrations Project XVII: Further AMS Dates for Historic Settlements from Fazzan, South-West Libya. Libyan Studies 44: 127-140.
  • 10: Mattingly, D. J., Sterry, M. & Thomas, D.C. (2013). Jarma in its Saharan Context: An urban biography. In The Archaeology of Fazzan. Volume 4, Survey and excavations at Old Jarma (ancient Garama) carried out by C.M. Daniels (1962-69) and the Fazzan Project (1997-2001). Mattingly, D. J. Society for Libyan Studies. 505-544.
  • 11: Mattingly, D.J., Rushworth, A., Sterry, M. & Leitch, V. (2013). The African Frontiers. Society for Libyan Studies.
  • 12: Mattingly, D. J. & Sterry, M. (2013). The first towns in the central Sahara. Antiquity 87(336): 503-518.
  • 13: Sterry, Martin, Mattingly, David, Ahmed, Muftah, Savage, Toby, White, Kevin & Wilson, Andrew (2011). DMP XIII: Reconnaissance Survey of Archaeological Sites in the Murzuq Area. Libyan Studies 42: 103-116.
  • 14: Sterry, M., Tullett, A. & Ray, N. (2010). In Search of the Iron Age. Proceedings of the Iron Age Research Student Seminar 2008, University of Leicester. School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester.

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