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Boris Rankov


  • TW20 0EX

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DAAD Visiting Profesor in Nautical Archaeology, Philipps-Universitaet, Marburg, Germany, 01-04-2014 to 31-08-2014

Personal profile

My research on the Roman side focuses on the frontiers of the Roman empire and how they functioned, the Roman army as an institution, and on various aspects of Latin epigraphy. On the Greek side, it focuses on ancient ships and harbours, and in particular the reconstruction of ancient warships and the archaeology of shipsheds.

  • My interest in Roman frontiers centres on how they operated as defensive and political structures, and began with my earlier work on Roman military intelligence and information-gathering and analysis. I have written about river frontiers in particular, which have often been dismissed as ineffective in modern scholarship.
  • My work on the Roman army has looked particularly at its administrative function, especially in the frontier provinces where it provided an office staff for the governor, procurator and other senior officials who had much more than a purely military role, and were thus much better supported than Roman magistrates and officials in Italy and the non-military provinces. Most recently, however, I have also written on Roman military equipment as possible evidence for familiarity with pantomime on the Roman frontiers.
  • My epigraphic studies have likewise been concerned with the inscriptions of the Roman army and provincial administration.
  • The reconstruction and operation of ancient warships has been a central research interest throughout my career, beginning my involvement with and publication of the Olympias trireme project, subsequent work on the shed complexes where these ships were housed all around the ancient Mediterranean, and most recent work on the reconstruction of the large polyremes of the Hellenistic period, including the Leontophoros of Lysimachus and the forty of Ptolemy IV Philopator.
  • My current research project is an institutional history of the Athenian Navy for CUP, which will build upon my earlier work the Athenian trireme and the Piraeus harbour complexes, and will be based in part on analysis of the fourth-century epigraphic naval inventories found in the Piraeus in the 19th century.