Professor Penelope Allison

Professor of Archaeology

School/Department: Archaeology and Ancient History, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 2735


Web: Arch-I-Scan Project



I grew up on a sheep farm in North Canterbury, NZ, graduating in Pure Mathematics (Univ. of Canterbury) with an MA Honours and PhD in Archaeology (Univ. of Sydney). I was a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome. I taught archaeology and ancient history at Univ. of Sydney Australian National Univ. and Univ. of Sheffield. I was an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow (1993-1996) and U2000 Research Fellow (1997-2001) at the Univ. of Sydney; Australian Research Council Queen Elizabeth II Fellow (2001-2006) at the Australian National Univ.); Australian Bicentennial Fellow (2000-2001) in the Faculty of Classics Univ. of Cambridge; Visiting Fellow (2005) at St John's College Univ. of Durham); and a Harold White Fellow (2014) at the National Library of Australia). I joined the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester as a 'New Blood Lecturer' (2006) became a Reader (2007) and Professor of Archaeology (2015). I have published over 100 scholarly books and articles. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK); Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries London; Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities; and Corresponding Member of the Archaeological Institute of America. I was the Lansdowne Visiting Speaker at the University of Victoria Canada (2020), and Distinguished Lecturer in Archaeology Stanford University USA (2021).


My research interests are household archaeology, gender and space, and consumption approaches to artefacts. I have published on Pompeian households, gender and space in Roman military, and Australian household archaeology. My current research involves artificial intelligence and the digital recording and analyses of Roman ceramics. The main sources of funding for my research have been the Australian Research Council, The British School at Rome, The British Academy, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Current and recent projects


Allison, P. M. and V. Esposito. Who came to Tea at the Old Kinchega Homestead?: Tablewares, Teawares and Social Interaction at an Australian Outback Pastoral Homestead, Leicester Archaeology Monographs 25, BAR International Series 2964 (2020)
Allison, P. M., M. Pitts and S. Colley (eds). Big Data on the Roman Table: New approaches to tablewares in the Roman world, theme volume of Internet Archaeology 50 (2018)
Allison, P. M. People and Space in Roman Military Bases. Cambridge University Press (2013). With online resource.
Allison, P. M. (ed.). Dealing with legacy data, themed volume of Internet Archaeology 24-25 (2008)
Allison, P. M. The Insula of the Menander in Pompeii III: The finds, a contextual study. Oxford: Clarendon Press, (2006). With online resource.
Allison, P. M. Pompeian households: analysis of the material culture, Monograph 42. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA (2004). With online resource.

Allison, P. M. and F Sear.  The Casa della Caccia Antica, Häuser in Pompeji 11. Munich: Hirmer (2002). 

Allison, P. M. (ed.) The archaeology of household activities. Routledge: London and New York (1999).

Selected journal articles
Nunez Jareno, S. J. , D. P. van Helden, E. M. Mirkes, I. Y. Tyukin, P. M Allison, Learning from scarce information: using synthetic data to classify Roman fine ware pottery, Entropy 1273142 (2021).

K. Huntley H. Friedman and P.M. Allison, Recovering the fragments of the Roman Colony of Libarna: Libarna Archaeological Project (LAP) Field Report, Season 1. The Journal of Fasti Online no. 415, Fasti Online Documents and Research, (2018).

Allison, P. M. Characterising Roman artefacts for investigating gendered practices in contexts without sexed bodies, American Journal of Archaeology 119.1 (2015): 103-123. DOI: 10.3764/aja.119.1.0103.

Allison, P. M. Mapping for Gender: Interpreting artefact distribution in Roman military forts in Germany, Archaeological Dialogues 13.1 (2006): 1-48 (discussion paper and commentaries). DOI: 10.1017/S1380203806211851 
Allison, P. M. Using the material and the written sources: Turn of the millennium approaches to Roman domestic space, American Journal of Archaeology 105.2 (2001): 181-208.

Recent book chapters and conference proceedings

Allison. P. M. Pompeian Houses and Seasonality: a contextual approach, in A. Lichtenberger and R.  Raja, eds. The Archaeology of Seasonality. Studies in Classical Archaeology 11. 403-419. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers (2021).

Allison. P. M.  ‘The ceramics from the Insula del Menandro and the significance of their distribution’, in M. Ossana and L. Toniolo (eds), ‘Fecisti cretaria’: Dal frammento al contesto: studi sul vasellame del territorio vesuviano. Studi e richerche del parco archeologico di Pompei 40, 199-209. Rome: L’erma di Bretschneider (2020). 

Allison, P. M. Meals and the Roman military, in T. Ivleva, J. de Bruin, M. Driessen (eds), Embracing the Provinces: Society and Material Culture of the Roman Frontier Regions. Essays in honour of Dr.  Carol van Driel Murray,103-110. Oxford: Oxbow Books (2018).

Allison, P. M. Naming tablewares: using the artefactual evidence to investigate eating and drinking practices across the Roman world, E. Minchin and H. Jackson (eds) Text and the material world: essays in honour of Graeme Clarke, SIMA - Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology, 186-198. Uppsala: Astrom editions (2017).

Allison, P. M. Everyday foodways and social connections in Pompeian houses, in L. Steel and K. Zinn, eds, Exploring the materiality of food “stuffs”: Transformations, symbolic consumption and embodiments, 152-186. London and New York: Routledge (Taylor and Francis) (2016).



Current research students 

  • Zoe Schofield (2021) Thesis topic: In Search of the Decorator: The Analysis of Roman Wall Decoration through the Study of Roman Decorative Borders in Herculaneum, Pompeii and Stabiae (2nd supervisor)
  • Mikel Herran Subinas (2019). Thesis topic: Gender, social change and religion: Islamicisation and the transforming lives of women in Early Medieval Iberia (2nd supervisor)
  • Victoria Szafara (2019). Thesis topic: ‘”Paired” Brooches in Roman Britain: Their Context and Distribution’
  • Zoe Tomlinson, (2018, part time). Thesis topic: ‘A re-evaluation of Roman painted plaster in the East Midlands with particular reference to the Roman colour palette’ (2nd supervisor)
  • Matthew Selheimer (2016, DL part time). Thesis topic: Life at the Crossroads: How street intersections shaped Roman socio-spatial experience

Past students

  • Dr Alessandra Pegurri  Thesis topic: ‘A City in Transition? Exploiting Common Wares to Question Socio-Cultural and Economic Change in Late Antique Rome’ (PhD awarded 2022).
  • Dr Christina Hernandez  Thesis topic: ‘Phenomenology of domestic space-vision, visibility, movement, and sensory experience of the home: private baths’ (PhD awarded 2022). Current post: Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Mt. San Antonio College, Calif. USA.
  • Dr Thomas Derrick Thesis topic: ‘The consumption and dissemination of Perfumed Products in Roman Britain’ (PhD awarded 2021). Current post: Honorary associate, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester
  • Dr Ruben Montoya Thesis topic: ‘Becoming glocal: Glocalization and the study of villa pavements in Hispania Baetica (1st BC- AD 4th)’ (PhD awarded 2020). Current post: Margarita Salas Fellow, University of Madrid and Research Associate of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome.
  • Dr Daniël van Helden  Thesis topic: 'Exploring the limits of the archaeological study of identity' (PhD awarded 2020): Current post: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Arch-I-Scan Project (AHRC funded).
  • Dr Carla Brain. Thesis topic: 'The place and role of deities in Pompeian households: A case study of Venus' (PhD awarded 2018)
  • Dr David Griffiths Thesis topic: 'The social and economic impact of artificial light in the Roman world' (PhD awarded 2016). Current post: Roman pottery specialist and post-excavation manager,
  • Dr Ian Marshman Thesis topic: 'Making your Mark in Britannia: the use of intaglios in the production, and presentation of identity under the Roman Empire' (PhD awarded 2016). Currently Education and Outreach Officer: The Collection Museum in Lincoln
  • Dr Laura Nicotra. Thesis topic: 'The significance of decorative motifs in Roman relief sculpture, with specific reference to those from Trajan's Forum in Rome' (PhD awarded 2015). Currently working for the Archaeological Superintendency in Rome.
  • Dr Ahmad Emrage Thesis topic: 'Roman fortified farms and military sites in the region of the Wadi Al-Kuf, Cyrenaica' (co-supervisor, PhD awarded 2015)
  • Dr Melissa Edgar. Thesis title: 'Beyond Typology: Later Iron Age brooches in northern France' (co-supervisor, PhD awarded 2012)
  • Dr Lisa Cougle. Thesis title: 'Dress and social identity in mortuary context: the case of Iron Age Osteria dell'Osa' (Australian National University, PhD awarded 2011).
  • Dr Andrew Birley. Thesis title: 'The nature and significance of extramural settlement at Vindolanda and other selected sites' (co-supervisor, PhD awarded 2010). Currently position: Director of Excavations, Vindolanda Trust, Northumberland, UK.
  • Assoc. Prof. Katherine Huntley. Thesis title: 'Material culture approaches to children and childhood in the Roman world' (PhD awarded 2010). Current position: Associate Professor in History, Boise State University, Idaho.
  • Dr Kim Owens, Thesis title: 'Farmers, Fishers and Whalemen: the Historical Archaeology of Lord Howe Island' (Australian National University, PhD awarded 2008, co-supervisor)
  • Prof. Steven EllisThesis title: ‘The bars in Pompeii: an archaeological typology of functions, forms and space' (University of Sydney, PhD awarded 2005). Current position: Associate Professor of Classics, University of Cincinnati.



I teach in areas of Roman and historical archaeology and Classical art focussing particularly on Roman Italy and Pompeii, Australian colonial archaeology household archaeology, and approaches to text and material culture. I teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses to both campus-based students as well as distance-learning students. For example I teach course for BA in Archaeology, BA in Archaeology and Ancient History, BA in Ancient History, MA in the Classical Mediterranean (Distance Learning).

Press and media


Recent conferences:

2022 Session organiser: ‘Approaches to Roman pottery use: new perspectives and new techniques’ for Roman Archaeology Conference 2020 Split Croatia (April 16-18) (Postponed because of Covid-19)

2019 Invited speaker at 'The Archaeology of Seasonality' The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters Copenhagen (Oct 17-18). Paper: ‘Pompeian Houses and Seasonality: a contextual approach’.

2016 Invited speaker at 'Fecisti cretaria. Produzione e circolazione ceramic a Pompei: stato degli studi e prospettive di ricerca Soprintendenza Pompei' (June 17-18). Paper: The ceramics from the Insula del Menandro and the significance of their distribution.

2018 Steering committee - Classical Association Annual Conference (CA2018) University of Leicester (April 6-8).

2016 Co-convenor of workshop; chair and discussant for Day 2 - ‘Big Data on the Roman Table’ AHRC Research Network Workshop 2 University of Exeter (July 6-7).

2016 Keynote speaker for international conference “Married to the Military: Soldiers’ Families in the Ancient World & Beyond Open University London (11-12 Nov.). Paper: Changing Attitudes to Women and Families inside Roman Military Bases . "


BA in Pure Mathematics (Univ. of Canterbury, NZ)

MA Honours in Classical Archaeology (1st class, Univ. of Sydney)

PhD in Archaeology (Univ. of Sydney)

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