Professor Penelope Allison

Professor (Emerita) 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 (University of Canterbury) with an MA Honours and PhD in Archaeology (University of Sydney). I was a Rome Scholar at the British School at Rome (1989-90). I taught archaeology and ancient history at University of Sydney, Australian National University, and University of Sheffield (variously 1983-1997). I was an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow (1993-1996) and U2000 Research Fellow (1997-2001) at the University of Sydney; Australian Research Council Queen Elizabeth II Fellow (2001-2006) at the Australian National University); Australian Bicentennial Fellow (2000-2001) in the Faculty of Classics, Cambridge University; Visiting Fellow (2005) at St John's College, University 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); 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). I am now retired and living in Australia on an avocado and cattle farm and am research active.


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 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).Online resource Engendering Roman Military Spaces

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). Online resource.

Allison, P. M. Pompeian households: analysis of the material culture, Monograph 42. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA (2004). 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

Van Helden, D., Mirkes, E, Tyukin, I and Allison, P. The Arch-I-Scan Project: Artificial Intelligence and 3D Simulation for Developing New Approaches to Roman Foodways. Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, 5.1 (2022), 78–95.

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

Huntley, K., H. Friedman and P.M. AllisonRecovering the fragments of the Roman Colony of Libarna: Libarna Archaeological Project (LAP) Field Report, Season 1The 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 bodiesAmerican 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 GermanyArchaeological 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 spaceAmerican Journal of Archaeology 105.2 (2001): 181-208.

Recent book chapters and conference proceedings

Allison. P. M. A Response: ‘Using the Material and Written Sources’ Revisited, in, J. Baird and A. Pudsey, eds., Housing in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Material and Textual Approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 470-494. (2022)

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 contestostudi 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. Beyond von Petrikovits – artefact distribution and socio-spatial practices in the Roman military, in N. Hodgson, P. Bidwell and J. Schachtmann (eds): Proceedings of the XXI International Congress of Roman Frontiers Studies (Limes Congress), held at Newcastle Upon Tyne, in August, 2009, 9-15. Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 25. Oxford.(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).


(I am no longer supervising postgraduate students)

Past students

  • Matthew Selheimer, Thesis topic: Life at the Crossroads: How street intersections shaped Roman socio-spatial experience (PhD awarded 2024)
  • Mikel Herran Subinas, (2019). Thesis topic: Gender, social change and religion: Islamicisation and the transforming lives of women in Early Medieval Iberia (2nd supervisor – PhD awarded 2023)
  • 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.
  • Associate Professor 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)
  • Professor Steven Ellis, Thesis 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.


Recent conference organiser and conference session organiser:


  • BA in Pure Mathematics (University of Canterbury, NZ)
  • MA Honours in Classical Archaeology (1st class, University of Sydney)
  • PhD in Archaeology (University of Sydney)
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