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Cities as palimpsests? Responses to Antiquity in Eastern Mediterranean Urbanism (Oxbow, 2022). Co-editors Elizabeth Key Fowden, Suna Çağaptay, Edward Zychowicz-Coghill and Louise Blanke.


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The metaphor of the palimpsest has been increasingly invoked to conceptualise cities with deep, living pasts. This volume thinks through, and beyond, the logic of the palimpsest, asking whether this fashionable trope slyly forces us to see contradiction where local inhabitants saw (and see) none, to impose distinctions that satisfy our own assumptions about historical periodisation and cultural practice, but which bear little relation to the experience of ancient, medieval or early modern persons.

Spanning the period from Constantine’s foundation of a New Rome in the fourth century to the contemporary aftermath of the Lebanese civil war, this book integrates perspectives from scholars typically separated by the disciplinary boundaries of late antique, Islamic, medieval, Byzantine, Ottoman and modern Middle Eastern studies, but whose work is united by their study of a region characterised by resilience rather than rupture. The volume includes an introduction and eighteen contributions from historians, archaeologists and art historians who explore the historical and cultural complexity of eastern Mediterranean cities. The authors highlight the effects of the multiple antiquities imagined and experienced by persons and groups who for generations made these cities home, and also by travellers and other observers who passed through them. The independent case studies are bound together by a shared concern to understand the many ways in which the cities’ pasts live on in their presents.

Remembering and Forgetting the Ancient City (Oxbow, 2022). Co-editors Javier Martínez Jiménez and Sam Ottewill-Soulsby.

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The Greco-Roman world is identified in the modern mind by its cities. This includes both specific places such as Athens and Rome, but also an instantly recognisable style of urbanism wrought in marble and lived in by teeming tunic-clad crowds. Selective and misleading this vision may be, but it speaks to the continuing importance these ancient cities have had in the centuries that followed and the extent to which they define the period in subsequent memory. Although there is much that is mysterious about them, the cities of the Roman Mediterranean are, for the most part, historically known. That the names and pasts of these cities remain known to us is the product of an extraordinary process of remembering and forgetting stretching back to antiquity that took place throughout the former Roman world. This volume tackles this subject of the survival and transformation of the ancient city through memory, drawing upon the methodological and theoretical lenses of memory studies and resilience theory to view the way the Greco-Roman city lived and vanished for the generations that separate the present from antiquity.

This book analyses the different ways in which urban communities of the post-Antique world have tried to understand and relate to the ancient city on their own terms, examining it as a process of forgetting as well as remembering. Many aspects of the ancient city were let go as time passed, but those elements that survived, that were actively remembered, have shaped the many understandings of what it was. The volume assembles specialists in multiple fields to bring their perspectives to bear on the subject through eleven case studies that range from late Antiquity to the mid-20th century, and from the Iberian Peninsula to Iran. Through the examination of archaeological remains, changing urban layouts and chronicles, travel guides and pamphlets, they track how the ancient city was made useful or consigned to oblivion.

Rome and the Colonial City (Oxbow, 2022). Co-editors Sofia Greaves and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill.

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According to one narrative that received almost canonical status a century ago with Francis Haverfield, the orthogonal grid was the most important development of ancient town planning, embodying values of civilisation in contrast to barbarism, diffused in particular by hundreds of Roman colonial foundations. Its main legacy to subsequent urban development was the model of the grid city, spread across the New World in new colonial cities.

This book explores the shortcomings of that all too colonialist narrative and offers new perspectives. It explores the ideals articulated both by ancient city founders and their modern successors; looks at new evidence for Roman colonial foundations to reassess their aims; and considers the many ways post-Roman urbanism looked back to the Roman model with a constant re-appropriation of the idea of the Roman.

Project Volumes

Project Publications

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Project Member Publications


Cagaptay, S., The First Capital of the Ottoman Empire: The Religious, Architectural and Social History of Bursa (London, 2020).

Cagaptay, S., 'Duvarın Dili: Bizans Kenti Ayasoluk’un Erken Rönesans Dönemi Floransa’sına Yansımaları' [If Walls Could Talk: The Reflections of the Byzantine City of Ayasoluk in the Early Renaissance Florence], Ortaçağ Araştırmaları Dergisi 3.2 (2020): 1–14. 

Cagaptay, S., 'Yeniden İnşa Edilen Geçmiş: Ayasoluk’taki Takip Kapısının Bizans Dönemindeki Tamiri' [Rebuilding the Past: The Byzantine Repair of the Gate of Persecutions at Ayasoluk], Ege Mimarlık Dergisi 108.3 (2020): 56–63

Cagaptay, S., 'Cambridge Cami’sinin Düşündürdükleri' [A Few Thoughts on the Cambridge Mosque], Mimarlık ve Yaşam Dergisi/Journal of Architecture and Life 5.1 (2020): 193–214

Cagaptay, S., 'Into the Sacred Space: Facing Ayasoluk and Its Gate of Persecutions' in V. Marinis, A. Papalexandrou and J. Pickett (eds.), Sacred Space: Studies in Honor of Robert Ousterhout (Turnhout, 2020): 195–208


Cagaptay, S., 'A Suspended Dialogue: An Overview of the Laskarid Nicaea' in Proceedings of Iznik/Nicaea on Its Way to Becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Metropolitan Municipality of Bursa Publications (Bursa, 2020): 635–650

Cagaptay, S., 'Devşirilen Başkent: Osmanlının İlk Başkenti Bursa'ya Yeniden Bakmak' [Rebuilding a Capital City from Spoils: The First Ottoman Capital Revisited], in Y. Özbek and A. Budak (eds.) Fetihten Önce Osmanlı Sanatı ve Mimarisi (Istanbul, 2020): 9–50.

Martínez Jiménez, J., ‘Local citizenships and the Visigothic kingdom’, in S. Panzram and P. Pachá (eds.) The Visigothic Kingdom. The Negotiation of Power in Post-Roman Iberia, Late Antique and Early Medieval Iberia 9 (Amsterdam, 2020):195-212

Martínez Jiménez, J., ‘Reccopolitani and other town dwellers in the southern meseta during the Visigothic period of state formation’, in M. Burrows and M. J. Kelly (eds.) Urban Interactions: Communication and Competition in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (New York, 2020) 

Martínez Jiménez, J. and S. Ottewill-Soulsby (eds.) Cities and Citizenship after Rome, Al-Masāq, 32:1 (2020)

Ottewill-Soulsby, S., 'City of Dog’, Journal of Urban History, 46 (2020), 1-19.

Ottewill-Soulsby, S., ‘First Cities in Late Antique Christian Thought’, Journal of Early Christian Studies, 30 (Forthcoming, 2022).


Fowden, Elizabeth Key,  ‘Jerusalem and the work of discontinuity’, in B. Dogramaci (ed.), Uninterrupted Fugue: Art by Kamal Boullata (Munich, Chicago & London, 2019)

Fowden, Elizabeth Key, ‘The Parthenon Mosque, King Solomon and the Greek Sages’, in Ottoman Athens: Archaeology, topography, history (Athens, 2019)

Martínez Jiménez, J., Aqueducts and Urbanism in post-Roman Spain. Gorgias Studies in Classical and Late Antiquity (New Jersey, 2019)

Wallace Hadrill, A. 'Salvian of Marseilles and the end of the ancient city’ in J. Andreu and A. Blanco-Perez (eds.) Signs of Weakness and Crisis in the Western Cities of the Roman Empire (c.II-III AD), (Stuttgart, 2019), 223-32


Fowden, Elizabeth Key, ‘The Parthenon, Pericles and King Solomon: a case study of Ottoman archaeological imagination in Greece’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 42 (2018): 261-274

Martínez Jiménez, J., I. Sastre de Diego and C. Tejerizo Carcía, 'The Iberian Peninsula Between 300 and 850 AD, an Archaeological Perspective', Late Antique and Early Medieval Iberia 6 (Amsterdam, 2018)


Martínez Jiménez, J., 'The impact of the eldritch city: Classical and alien urbanism in Lovecraft’s Mythos' Foundation', The International Review of Science Fiction 43.7 (2018): 29-42


Wallace-Hadrill, A. ‘Cosa significa vivere nell’impronta di una antica città?’ in A. Morigi and C. Quintelli (eds.) Fondare e ri-fondare. Parma, Reggio e Modena lungo la via Emilia romana. Atti del simposio internazionale, Parma 12 e 13 dicembre 2017 (Padova, Il Poligrafo casa editrice, 2018): 35-46


Martínez Jiménez, J. and P. González Gutiérrez, 'Knowledge and specialised trades in the late Antique West: Medicine vs Engineering'

Journal of Late Antique Religion and Culture 11 (2017): 38-58.

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