Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Elizabeth M. Greene

Affiliation: University of Western Ontario

Elizabeth M. Greene is Assistant Professor of Roman Archaeology with the Department of Classical Studies at the University of Western Ontario.  She holds her degrees from the University of North Carolina (Ph.D.), Tufts University, and Boston University, and her fields of research are Roman archaeology and social history, women and families in the Roman world, western Roman provinces, Romanization and imperialism, Roman military, and Latin epigraphy.  She has been involved in the excavations at the Vindolanda Roman Fort since 2002, and has also been a specialist consultant at the Area Sacra di Sant’Omobono in Rome.  Professor Greene’s current publication projects include The Roman Shoe Assemblage from the Vindolanda Roman Fort (in progress, Journal of Roman Archaeology, supplement series) and Present but Not Accounted For: Women and the Roman Army (in progress, co-edited with L.L. Brice, Cambridge University Press).


At the height of expansion of the Roman world in the early second century AD the empire stretched from Britain to Syria, from Romania to North Africa and beyond. Around these provinces the Roman army defended the interests of Rome, stationed on sometimes far flung frontiers with a mixture of Roman and native cultures prevailing. This talk focuses on one of these frontiers—Hadrian’s Wall in Britain—to give you a sense of what life was like for Roman soldiers and their families living so far from the capital. The Roman fort at Vindolanda lies now in the Hadrian’s Wall corridor in a remote countryside in Northumberland, England. Decades of excavation here give us an extraordinary view into the lives of soldiers living in this frontier region. Elizabeth Greene has worked at Vindolanda since 2002 and will give a presentation focusing on the recent excavations. Highlights of the presentation focus on the extraordinary finds from the site, including Roman shoes, numerous inscriptions and artifacts, as well as the unparalleled corpus of writing tablets (letters and military records), to reveal what life was like on the edge of empire and how the site has changed many accepted views of the Roman army.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Birley, R. 2009. Vindolanda: A Roman Frontier Fort on Hadrian’s Wall (Stroud: Amberley Publishing)

Birley, A.R. 2002. Garrison Life at Vindolanda: A Band of Brothers (Gloucestershire: Tempus)

Breeze, D. and B. Dobson. Hadrian’s Wall (Several editions) (London: Penguin)

Symonds, M.F.A. and D.J.P. Mason (eds.). 2009. Frontiers of Knowledge. A Research Framework for Hadrian’s Wall (Durham University, English Heritage, Durham County Council)

Research over the past few decades has shown quite clearly that women and children were part of life in the Roman army far more than had ever been considered before. The evidence and spatial patterning of material within and outside Roman forts makes this clear, but still research on the social role of these individuals lags behind. This presentation concentrates on Dr. Greene’s current research into this aspect of the Roman army, considering the evidence that illuminates the varied roles of non-combatants within these somewhat unique settlements. The presentation highlights the very different realities for the wives and children of officers and the family members of, for instance, a foot soldier, who was paid far less and was not legally allowed to contract a marriage while serving. This lecture follows on past talks I have given that present the archaeological evidence for the presence of women at Vindolanda and pushes the argument toward women’s social roles within military communities.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Greene, E.M. 2016. “Identities and Social Roles of Women in Military Communities of the Roman West,” in S. Budin and J. Turfa (eds.), Women in Antiquity: Real Women across the Ancient World (Routledge) 942-953.

Greene, E.M. 2015. “Conubium cum uxoribus: Wives and Children in the Roman Military Diplomas,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 28, 125-159.

Greene, E.M. 2014. “If the shoe fits: Style and function of children’s shoes from Vindolanda” in R. Collins and F. McIntosh (eds.), Life in the Limes: Studies of the People and Objects of the Roman Frontiers. Oxford: Oxbow. 29-36.

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