The Dalrymple Lecture Series 2017/2018

The 2017/18 Dalrymple Lecture Series will be delivered by

Professor Roger Wilson, University of British Columbia

Professor Roger WilsonR. J. A. Wilson is Director of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Sicily at the University of British Columbia. His previous positions were as Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire at the same university, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Nottingham and Louis Claude Purser Associate Professor at Trinity College, University of Dublin. Recipient of the Killam Prize in 2012 at UBC for his lifetime contribution to research, he has also been Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Bonn (1987/9), Visiting Professor Classics at McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) in 1998, Balsdon Senior Research Fellow at the British School of Rome (2001/02), Charles Eliot Norton Lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America (2007), and Guest Fellow at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2012). He is a graduate of the University of Oxford, where he also studied for his DPhil. His research concerns mainly the Roman archaeology of the central Mediterranean, with a special emphasis on Sicily, but he has also written on Roman Britain and Roman Germany. He has written over 140 papers and book chapters, and in addition is the author or editor of ten books, including Guide to the Roman Remains in Britain (1975; 1980; 1988, 2002; fifth edition in preparation), Piazza Armerina (1983) and Sicily under the Roman Empire (1990). His most recent book (2016) is Caddeddi on the Tellaro: a late Roman villa and its mosaics (2016). He is currently excavating a Roman villa at Gerace (Sicily). The last two projects will feature in two of his Dalrymple lectures.

13-16 November 2017

The archaeology of Roman Sicily

General view of SicilySicily stands at the crossroads of the Mediterranean and is a palimpsest of cultures stretching over many centuries. While its Greek and Phoenician past has attracted much attention, its Roman archaeology, with one or two exceptions, is perhaps not so well known. The lectures will review a range of evidence which contributes to our knowledge of the province of Sicilia – what Cicero called ‘the first jewel in our imperial crown’ – starting with its acquisition as Rome’s earliest overseas possession in the middle of the third century BC, and closing with examination of a site of the seventh century AD, by which time the island had become part of the Byzantine Empire. Some spectacular and familiar monuments, such as the Roman theatre at Taormina with its dramatic backdrop of mount Etna and the sea, and the world-famous villa at Piazza Armerina with its stunning mosaic pavements, will be presented alongside less familiar evidence, including the results of the speaker’s own fieldwork and other recent research. We shall also be exploring the extent to which Roman culture made an impact on the essentially Greek character of this magical island.


6.30pm Lecture One – Setting the scene: provincia Sicilia

Sicily became a Roman province in 241 BC and remained one until the Byzantine conquest of the island in AD 535. This introductory lecture will assess the evolving character of the island under Roman rule, so far as it is known from archaeological evidence. Changes in urban structure saw many of the hill-top towns in the interior, still flourishing under the Roman Republic, decline under the Empire, while the coastal cities expanded and flourished, as shown by impressive urban building projects. In the countryside agro-towns and village settlements sprang up in place of the old hill towns, and were joined by numerous farms and villas. The latter reached their apogee in the fourth and fifth centuries AD, when Sicily once more became an important grain supplier for Italy. We will also explore Sicily’s place in the maritime trade networks of the Roman world, including evidence for both Sicilian exports and imports, and the role of inscriptions as a monitor of the use of both Greek and Latin (and to a lesser extent Punic) in what Apuleius refers to in the second century AD as a trilingual island.

6.30pm Lecture Two – Living in luxury: the late Roman villa at Caddeddi on the Tellaro

The Roman villa in contrada Caddeddi on the Tellaro river, near Noto in south-east Sicily, was discovered by chance in 1970; but it was only opened to the public in 2008 and remains little known. The villa dates to the second half of the fourth century AD, and so belongs a generation or more later than the famous villa of Casale near Piazza Armerina. This talk will look at what is known about this élite Sicilian residence of a late Roman aristocrat, and will consider in detail the three figured mosaics, setting them in context by comparing them with parallels elsewhere. It seems very probable that all the floors were laid by itinerant African craftsmen based at Carthage, working at Caddeddi on an overseas contract. Particularly impressive is the dazzling polychromy of these pavements and the wide range of incidental detail that they contain about the late Roman world, both civilian and military.

6.30pm Lecture Three – Philippianus and his rural estate: recent excavations at Gerace near Enna

Mosaic from Caddeddi

Gerace is a Roman estate centre in the heart of Sicily which the speaker has been excavating since 2013. A substantial estate granary, built c. AD 325/350 but violently destroyed, probably by earthquake, was succeeded by a compact Roman villa in the late fourth century, which had been equipped with some mosaic pavements but appears unfinished. Ubiquitous tile-stamps recording the name of Philippianus indicate the estate owner at that time. Further up the hill a more substantial bath-house, built perhaps c. AD 400, was found in 2016, decorated with polychrome marble on the walls and geometric mosaics on the floors, but this structure was systematically stripped of its building materials (and the floors smashed) when the baths were decommissioned in the fifth century – an interesting example of Roman recycling. Whether the baths were part of another villa or an independent structure is currently unknown. A small low-status village replaced the élite villa in the early Byzantine period.

7.30pm Lecture Four – Dining with the dead: life and death in an early Byzantine village at Punta Secca near Ragusa

Punta Secca (RG), known to millions of Italians as the home of TV cop, Salvo Montalbano, lies on the south coast of Sicily. Excavation in 2008–2010, directed by the speaker, in a late Roman and early Byzantine village here, examined in detail a previously unexcavated house, and revealed much about it and its commercial contacts with other parts of Sicily and the wider Mediterranean world. A big surprise was the discovery of a substantial tomb in the yard of the house, made c. AD 625/630. Who was inside the tomb? Was it a pagan or a Christian burial? What evidence was there for graveside meals, and what did they eat? And why was the tomb here, in a house, rather than in the village cemetery, or, if the deceased was Christian, in or near the village church? These and other intriguing questions will be addressed in the talk, and the discovery set in the context of what else is known about such practices in the late Roman and early Byzantine worlds.

Lectures take place in the Sir Charles Wilson Lecture Theatre, University of Glasgow (corner of Gibson Street and University Avenue)



About The Dalrymple Lecture Series

This prestigious lecture series was instituted by James Dalrymple Gray of Dalrymple. James Dalrymple was born in July 1852 in Newcastle-upon Tyne to the Reverend Thomas Gray and his wife Mary Dalrymple. He later assumed his mother’s family name when, on the death of his uncle, he succeeded to the estates belonging to her family. He studied law at both Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, and subsequently practised in Glasgow.

In 1877 he became the Honorary Secretary of Glasgow Archaeological Society which was in decline at the time. With the help of others he succeeded in re-invigorating the Society and held the post of Secretary for some 25 years. He introduced the regular monthly meetings on the third Thursday of the month (a practice still in force today) and often presented papers on a range of topics, particularly castles and churches. He became President of Glasgow Archaeological Society in 1904.

Established in the years 1907-1912 by the annual covenant of James Dalrymple to commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Society, and subsequently endowed by his bequest which ensures its continuance today. In 1935 it was decided to appoint a permanent Lecturer and, in alternate years, a Special Lecturer for that year only. The Fund is administered by a Board of Curators, four appointed by the University Court and three by the Council of the Glasgow Archaeological Society.

The subject was to be ‘some branch of European archaeology’ and the Dalrymple lectures have been delivered by many of the most distinguished figures in twentieth and twenty-first century archaeology.

1907 Robert Carr Bosanquet, M.A.
1908 Sir George MacDonald, M.A., LL.D.
1910 Robert Munro M.A., M.D., LL.D.
1911 Robert Alexander Stewart Macalister M.A.

1937 Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler M.C. M.A. D.Litt
1938 Reginald Allender Smith B.A.
1939 Ian Alexander Richmond M.A.

In 1939, the lectureship was associated with duties in the Hunterian Museum:

1940 Anne Strachan Robertson M.A., D.Litt

In 1944 provision was made for a visiting lecturer to give a Dalrymple lecture in alternate years:

1945.46 Gerhardt Bersu
1947.48 Charles Frances Christopher Hawkes M.A.
1950.51 Victor Eric Nash-Williams M.A. D.Litt.
1952.53 William Douglas Simpson D.Litt.
1955.56 John Grahame Douglas Clark M.A., Ph.D., Sc.D., F.B.A.
1956.57 Ian Alexander Richmond M.A., D.Litt., LL.D., F.B.A.
1958.59 Courtenay Arthyr Raleigh Radford M.A., D.Litt., F.B.A.
1960.61 Rupert Leo Scott Bruce-Mittford B.A.
1964.65 Jocelyn Mary Catherine Toynbee, M.A., D.Phil., F.B.A.
1966.67 Stuarty Piggott, B.Litt, D.Litt., F.B.A.
1968.69 Kathleen Mary Kenyon, C.B.E., M.A., D.Litt., F.B.A.
1970.71 David Mackenzie Wison, M. A.
1972 Geoffrey William Dimbleby, B.Sc., M.A., D.Phil
1972.73 Eric Birley, M.B.E., M.A., F.B.A.
1974-75 A.Colin Renfrew M.A., Ph.D.
1976-77 Robert Barron Kerr Stevenson, M.A., F.S.A., F.M.A.
1978.79 Professor M.J. O’Kelly
1981 Professor M.W. Barley
1983 Professor P.R.Giot
1984 Professor Peter S Wells
1985 Dr K Kristiansen
1986 Professor J Sasel
1987.88 Professor Martin Biddle
1988.89 Professor Alexander Fenton
1990.91 Professor Martin Carver
1991.92 Professor Charles Thomas
1992.93 Professor Vassos Karageorghis
1993.94 Professor Rosemary Cramp
1994.95 Professor Emannuel Amati
1995.96 Professor Michael Fulford
1996.97 Professor George Bass
1997.98 Dr John Hume
1999-0 Lord Colin Renfrew
2000-01 Professor Chris Stringer
2001-02 Dr Patrick F Wallace
2002-03 Professor Anders Andren
2003-04 Professor Richard Bradley
2004-05 Dr Philip Freeman
2005-06 Professor Martin Millett
2006-07 Sir Barry Cunliffe
2007-08 Professor Ian Hodder
2008-09 Professor Richard Hodges
2009-10 Professor David Breeze
2010-11 Professor Roberta Gilchrist
2011-12 Professor Ian Ralston
2012-13 Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill
2013-14 Professor Mike Parker Pearson
2014-15 Professor William Hanson
2015-16 Emeritus Professor John C Barrett
2016-17 Emeritus Professor Roger Stalley