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Professor in the Department of Archaeology211+44 (0) 191 33 41140
Member of the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture  
Member of the Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East  
Member of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies  
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies  


I took my first degrees in Turin and at the "Scuola di Specializzazione" at the University La Sapienza - Rome. I then completed my PhD at the University of Leicester. I have worked on several excavations in central and southern Italy and in North Africa, in particular in Carthage (Tunisia) and in Libya (Fazzan). I worked at the University of Oxford as research assistant to the Professor of Roman Archaeology, where I developed my interest in the topography of Rome. My research and publications focus on the problems related to the evolution of North African cities from Late Antiquity to the Arab conquest and to issues of the economy of te Maditerranean between the 6th and the 9th c. I am also working on a joint project with the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut (Rome Department - Dr Ralf Bockmann) on the impact of the Arab conquest on north Africa. I currently preparing for publication an excavation done in the '70s in Syria (Dibsi Faraj) of a fortified citadel occupied from the 1st-3rd c. AD to the 10th c.

Roman Archeology
My interests in Roman Archaeology focus on different aspects.
In Rome I have co-directed with Dr. D. Palombi (Università La Sapienza) the project at the villa dei Gordiani along the via Prenestina.
I am also interested in architecture and statuary. In particular I have published two papers on the cult of Mercury Sober in the city of Rome and a study of the statuary group of the Dioscuroi found in Cori (South Latium). Studying several fragments I proposed a reconstruction of the statuary group (now visible at the Museum of Cori). In my recent book "The End of the Pagan City" I also considered the fate of statuary and building material after the closure of temples. Recently my research has focused on recycling and spolia.

I have been working for a long time and published several articles on Roman pottery in Rome, Italy and North Africa. I have a good knowledge of all the classes of pottery that circulated in the Mediterranean from the Republican period to the 7th/8th century AD and beyond. I am interested in all the aspects related to the pottery studies (economy, trade, consumption, problems of chronologies etc.). I have however experience on the study of a number of artefacts, including glass, marble decoratioons.

Roman,Byzantine and early Arab Urbanism
My interest on this aspect started with my PhD, that I have now published. The principal aim of the book was to examine the complex sequence of transition in the selected provinces of Zeugitana, Byzacena and Tripolitana of late Roman North Africa. The general analysis (based on historical sources, epigraphy and archaeological evidence) focuses on transitions in town and country and economy from Roman to Vandal and to Byzantine rule and observing patterns and facets of continuity and change. The period in question from AD 300 to AD 700, spans more that political transitions: it sees the adoption of Christianity (during the Las Imperial period and the Byzantine times), the Vandal rule and the adoption of Arianism and the Arab/Muslim imposition. It is also a period of archaeological and material transition: towns and economic system change, public structures (but not churches) decay. I have analysed how classical towns changed through centuries, how building were reused and progressively transformed.
I am currently working on the publication of the excavation of the Fortified citadel of Dibsi Faraj (Syria). The very rich and important site was excavated in the '70s under the direction of Richard Harper. The archive of the excavation and numerous finds are now at Durham University. The site was occupiedfrom the 1st- 3rd century into probably the 10th c. AD, the most important phase of occupation dates to the Byzantine period with the construction of two churches.

Paganism and Christianity
My last book published in 2013 by Oxford University Press, The End of the Pagan City, focuses primarily on the end of the pagan religious tradition and the dismantling of its material form in North Africa (modern Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) from the 4th to the 6th centuries AD. It considers how urban communities changed, why some traditions were lost and some others continued, and whether these carried the same value and meaning upon doing so. Addressing two main issues, mainly from an archaeological perspective, the volume explores the change in religious habits and practices, and the consequent recycling and reuse of pagan monuments and materials, and investigates to what extent these physical processes were driven by religious motivations and contrasts, or were merely stimulated by economic issues.

My interests in landscape archaeology started from my PhD, where I looked at the transformation of the countryside from Late Antiquity to the Arab conquest. I am currently focussing on the clergy and the progressive acquisition of estates and properties by the Clergy and the rise of the Church as an economic and secular power. I am also particularly interested in looking at the transformations occurred in rural villas in Late Antiquity and early medieval period.

I am currently working (in co-operation with my colleague Ralf Bockmann at the Deutsches Archaeologisches Institut - Rome) on the Arab expansion in north Africa, with a specific focus on Tripolitania. The work has started since 2014 in co-operation with the Department of Antiquities of Libya. the major focus on this first part of the project has been on the Gebel Nafusa. The work has also included a series of GIS training courses for Staff of the Department of Antiquities of Libya. The project is also finalized to train local archaeologists on the field and on recording, managing and protecting the Cultural Heritage after the conflict. Results of the project will be part of the new plans of the Department of Antiquities to create a complete archive of the archaeological remains on the territory. The project will combine interpretation of satellite images, landscape extensive survey and GIS recording, as well as geophysical investigation of the Salama fort area and stratigraphic analysis and recording of the standing structures (the Medieval Salama fort and the nearby mosque, cisterns and Roman farms). In the longer term the project will also include extensive excavation. The project is in co-operation with the Deutsches Archäologische Institut – Rome (Dr R. Bockmann) and the University of Msurata (Dr H. Abdouli). The work has now expanded to the whole of Libya, to include also Cyrenaica. The project is developing with the fieldwork on the site of Iunca (Borj Younga - Tunisia). The project will include training of Libyan and Tunisian archaeologists as well as research on the site.

Work to prevent looting and illicit traffic

I am currently leading a project which include the creation of an app for fast recording of archaeological objets on site and in storerooms. the project is currently piloted in Libya.

Fieldwork project in Sicily
I have directed the survey project in Sicily. The project research area on the north-western slopes of Etna includes the territories of the comuni of Bronte,Maletto and Maniace in the provincia di Catania and focuses,in particular, on the area located in the upper valley of the river Simeto that is formed at the confluence of the Saracena, Acuto and Martello rivers. The project is now in preparation for publication

Research Students
I have supervised students working on: the rural sanctuaries of Syria, the 3rd century crisis in Egypt, the Pithais in Classical and Roman Greece, The fate of Statuary in Late Antique and Byzantine Cyprus. I am currently supervising PhD on: Water systems in Nabataean Petra, private Architecture and its decoration in Late Antique Greece, Water and Christianity in Isreal, The transition or Sasanian cities into the Islamic period, The Arab expansion in Cyrenaica. If you have any idea for a PhD research that you want to discuss with me, feel free to email me.

Research interests

  • Roman and Byzantine pottery
  • Topography of Rome
  • Archaeology in North Africa
  • Roman, Byzantine Sicily
  • Roman Economy
  • Late Antique urbanism in North Africa and the near East

Research groups

  • Heritage Partnerships
  • Landscapes of Complex Society

Research Projects

Awarded Grants

  • 2009: BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND PAGANS(£16161.00 from Arts and Humanities Research Council)
  • 2007: THE UPPER SIMETO VALLEY PROJECT(£7475.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2006: THE VILLA OF THE GORDIANI AT THE 3RD MILE(£5635.00 from The British Academy)
  • 2005: LACUS IUTURNAE(£13955.26 from Academy of Finland)

Esteem Indicators

  • 2017: member of the Scientific Committe:
    Member of the ;conseil scientifique ;de la collection de monographie que le laboratoire en sciences de l’Antiquité ;(AOROC) de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure et du CNRS vient d’ouvrir aux éditions ;Hermann à Paris (collection « ;Histoire et archéologie ;»).
  • 2017: member of the Scientific Committe:
    Member of the ;scientific council of the journal Cartagine/ Studi e Ricerche ;
  • 2015: Editor of the Academic Journal - Libyan Studies:
  • 2012: Invited speaker to the Conference on the 8th century: The End of Late Antiquity?- Oxford All Souls College:
  • 2011: Invited speaker on 'Recycling statues in Late Antique North Africa' at the Conference 'Recycling the Roman Wolrd' at The University of Manitoba (Canada):
  • 2011: Invited speaker on 'Vandal Evergetism in North Africa' at the Conference 'Rulers and the Patronage of Buildings in the 5th- and 6th-century Mediterranean' at the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity:
  • 2009: Members of the Council of the Society for Libyan Studies(

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Social sciences: Rome, Roman Italy, North Africa and the Near East. Late Antique, Byzantine, Early Islamic North Africa
  • Roman, Greek & ancient civilisations:


Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

  • Leon A., (Planned). Life on the Middle Euphrates Frontier: The Dibsi Faraj excavation. Dumbarton Oaks Collection. Dumbarton Oaks.
  • Bockmann R., Leone, A. & Von Rummell, P. (2020). Africa – Ifriqiya. Continuity and Change in North Africa from the Byzantine to the Early Islamic Age. Palilia. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.
  • Kaizer, T., Leone, A., Thomas, E. & Witcher, R. (2012). Cities and Gods: Religious Spaces in Transition. BABesch. Annual Papers on Mediterranean Archaeology, Supplement 22. BABESCH.
  • Leone, A., Palombi, D. & Walker, S. (2007). Res Bene Gestae. Ricerche di storia urbana su Roma antica in onore di Eva Margareta Steinby. Rome: Quasar.

Journal Article

Supervision students