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Kathrine Bertram

Alumni Coordinator

Alumni Coordinator of University College
Coordinator in the Department of Classics and Ancient History


Doctoral Research Project: Roman Engineers: A Group Picture

Roman technology, monumental buildings and infrastructure have long drawn the attention of both scholars and the general public alike; yet those individuals directly responsible for the planning and formation have remained largely obscure. The roles and responsibilities of the engineers involved in construction, as well as the complexity of the social situations in which these projects were undertaken, are only touched on obliquely or sometimes even intentionally excluded from the discussion in many studies of ancient technologies. My project is to build a picture of Roman engineers (c. 100BCE - c. 250CE) and their place in society. To do this I will explore how engineers were trained, the hierarchy within the engineering community, the relationship between civil and military engineers, the relationship between engineers and the community and the response to engineering failures and disasters. I will consider the relevance of texts such as Vitruvius’ De Architectura and Frontinus’ De Aquaeductu Urbis Romae to the conditions experienced by Roman engineers day to day. In my thesis, I am investigating the role of tacit knowledge in Roman engineering and the links between profession and identity. By considering and integrating textual, epigraphical and material evidence I will shed light on the people who made possible the grand construction projects which both shaped and characterized the expansion of Rome and are among the most striking remains of the ancient world today.