Dr Robyn Veal Wins Prestigious Archaeology Fellowship

4 October 2011

Dr Robyn Veal, post-doctoral honorary in the University of Sydney's Department of Archaeology, has been awarded the Ralegh Radford Rome Fellowship for the British School at Rome (BSR).

The placement will constitute the first of a four-year study for Dr Veal, focusing on the fuel economies of the Roman imperial period, and a potential move back to ancient methods of fuel production in the modern age.

She was awarded the nine-month fellowship in open competition, which included post-doctoral applicants from both the United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations.

"I feel very honoured and excited to have been awarded the Fellowship," Dr Veal said. "It will go a long way in furthering the research methods I developed during my doctoral studies at the University of Sydney."

This research will largely centre on the wood fuel economy adopted by the ancient Romans, in particular the use of charcoal as a commercially produced commodity.

In a global society increasingly concerned with climate change and diminishing fuel provisions, Dr Veal's research can make a useful contribution to land and forest management strategies, especially in countries where wood and charcoal are still the dominant fuels.

"I [will] carry out laboratory examination of archaeologically excavated charcoals," she said. "Over-exploitation of wood for charcoal-making is a real problem [today], and so looking at how the ancients managed their forests can teach us lessens that may help us to manage our future better."

As well as the scientific and agricultural implications of her work, Dr Veal acknowledges the importance of the Rome Fellowship for encouraging the support of classical studies in the Commonwealth.

She also looks forward to conducting her research on Roman soil.

"Rome is my very favourite place, architecturally, archaeologically and intellectually," she said. "And let's not forget the cuisine … it's going to be a hard life!"

Dr Veal will carry out her residential fellowship at the BSR from October 2011 to June 2012.

Contact: Kate Mayor

Phone: 02 9351 2208

Email: 39041e5744013b3d0a427132030b5611006415520742260d