Prestigious archaeology prize for Leicester graduate

The Association for Environmental Archaeology has announced that Leicester alumna Nora Battermann has won their John Evans Undergraduate Dissertation Prize.

This year’s winners of the John Evans Prizes were announced at the Association’s annual conference in Rome.

Nora Battermann, who graduated with a BA Archaeology degree this year, won the undergraduate prize for her dissertation ‘Exotics and Empire. An Investigation into Roman Conceptions of the ‘Wild’‘. She has been invited to submit her research for publication in Environmental Archaeology.

Nora said: “"I feel very honoured to have been awarded the John Evans Undergraduate Dissertation Prize and would like to thank everyone who supported me during the writing process. Without the encouragement of friends and family, the support of my supervisor Dr Richard Thomas, and the facilities and environment provided by the University of Leicester I would not have been able to produce such a piece of work.

“I very much enjoyed researching the topic of exotic animals in the Roman world and can only recommend pursuing a dissertation subject one is interested in and passionate about!"

Her dissertation investigated Roman conceptions of the ’wild’ by analysing evidence for exotic animals. As no comparable studies exist this dissertation fills a gap in research providing information that can potentially be used to enhance our understanding of the Roman view(s) of the world.

The combination of evidence from the zooarchaeological record and mosaics suggests that the ‘wild’ was conceptualised in at least two ways. One of them, indicated by the cluster of exotic animal bones in Rome, is connected to imperialism and the belief in the superiority of humans over the ‘wild’. The second conception is more appreciative and gentle. This becomes most evident in the keeping of Barbary macaques as companion animals.

The Association for Environmental Archaeology described this year’s judging, “a particularly difficult task, with a lot of very good dissertations entered. We think John would be happy to see the variety of approaches taken to investigating the past human environment and look forward to seeing how the entrants contribute to developing the subject in the future.”