Prof. dr. Joanita Vroom

Universiteit: Leiden University

Title of the research project of Joanita Vroom as NWIB Visiting Professor at the KNIR: Rome, Italy & the Byzantines

This project aims to investigate Rome’s turbulent transition from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, focusing on its contacts during this period with the Byzantine capital Constantinople, and other large urban centers throughout the Mediterranean world. The era under study is ca. 400-1500 AD, thus covering the Early to Late Byzantine periods. One of the project’s key research questions is: What can Medieval material culture in Italy tell us about the presence and trade contacts of Byzantines in Italy in general and in Rome in particular?

The rationale for this research question is to significantly improve the knowledge and understanding of the changes over time of daily life during the Byzantine era in Rome (‘Constantinople on the Tiber’) and Italy, a not-so-well-known part of their history.

For this purpose, the project will explore new ways of documenting these changes, based on the study of material culture, especially pottery finds from excavations and field surveys. Some of these ceramics originate from archaeological activities carried out by KNIR staff and their teams in the past (e.g. Santa Prisca Project in Rome during the 1950s; San Sisto Vecchio Project during the 1960s-1980s) and in the present (e.g., Tappino Area Archaeological Project in Molise).

My research will primarily focus on Medieval transport jars for staple goods (known as amphorae) and glazed tableware (including the so-called ‘Forum Ware’) recovered by archaeologists in Rome and Italy, which are available in various museum collections. I intend to work on a monograph about Byzantine amphorae (published by Brepols), as well as on some publications related to Byzantine material culture and the archaeology of foodways and consumption in the Medieval Mediterranean. Finally, it is planned to organize a KNIR workshop with the title ‘Italy & the Byzantines: The New Millennium in Pottery Studies’ in April 2024.

Short bio:
Joanita Vroom is Professor of the Archaeology of Medieval and Early Modern Eurasia at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University (NL), specializing in Medieval and Post-Medieval archaeology in the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East (including the Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader, and Ottoman periods). She takes a particular interest in the socio-economic (production and distribution) and cultural aspects (cuisine and eating habits) of material culture (including ceramics) in these post-Roman societies. She is the series editor of the ‘Medieval and Post-Medieval Mediterranean Archaeology Series’ (MPMAS) at Brepols Publishers (Turnhout). Her most recent publication is: Vroom, J. (ed.) 2023, Feeding the Byzantine City: The Archaeology of Consumption in the Eastern Mediterranean (ca. 500-1500) (Medieval and Post-Medieval Mediterranean Archaeology Series V), Turnhout: Brepols Publishers.
For her many publications, see: https://leidenuniv.academia.edu/JoanitaVroom and https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joanita_Vroom
For further information on her various (NWO) research projects and international field projects, see: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/staffmembers/joanita-vroom#tab-1