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Dr. Tesse Stek

Dr. Tesse Stek
Reuvensplaats 3-4 2311 BE Leiden
Director a.i. of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR)
Projects: Landscapes of Early Roman Colonisation, Sacred Landscape Project
Publications: Cult Places and Cultural Change in Republican Italy
Tesse D. Stek

Director a.i. of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR)

Director of Ancient Studies at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR)

Associate Professor Mediterranean Archaeology at the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University (currently seconded to KNIR, Rome)


My research and teaching engages with the formation of Roman imperialism and its interactions with pre-existing polities and people. My approach combines ancient history and epigraphy with new archaeological field work in the Western and Central Mediterranean.

Roman imperialism, religion and colonization

My PhD (Amsterdam) focused on Roman expansion and cult sites and religion in ancient Italy. I then researched the historical aspects of Roman colonization as a Golding Junior Research Fellowship at Brasenose College, Oxford. To test these ideas in the field, in 2011 I started new field work in the territory of the Roman colony Aesernia, with a Marie Curie at Glasgow. With the support of a large NWO grant, I expanded the colonization project with an enthusiastic international team of postdocs, PhD students, postdocs and students. This Landscapes of Early Roman Colonization project (2013-) connects the rethinking of the modern historiography and theory of early Roman expansion with new field work in two early colonies founded by Rome.

As of 2018/19, I am seconded to the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome (KNIR) as Director of Ancient Studies. In that capacity, I support and represent (PhD) students and colleagues in the fields of classics, ancient history and archaeology. At the Dutch school, I am also Head of Research and, as of 2020, also Director a.i. of the Institute. In that role, I enjoy fostering debate within and across disciplinary boundaries - a key privilege of the Roman station within the Italian and international network that Rome offers.

I currently co-direct two major international collaborations and field work projects, in Italy and Portugal.

The Tappino Area Archaeology Project, in the Apennines, involves field survey, aerial archaeology, geophysics and excavation. Our base camp in Jelsi functions as a hub and base camp for research, teaching and knowledge dissemination.

As of 2018, I coordinate, together with Dr. Andr√© Carneiro from √Čvora University, a new field work project in Alto Alentejo, Portugal. Recently, an important next step has been taken in this direction thanks to a generous grant which enables the consolidation of the Roman Portugal research.

The project aims at better understanding large-scale trends in the expanding Roman empire from the 4th century BC to the 1st century AD across the Western Mediterranean, and linking it theoretically to provincial Roman archaeologies in northwestern Europe. The activation of previous, large archaeological datasets and unlocking their potential on new digital platforms plays a key role in this project (cf. also the online Fasti project, and the related A rated journal Fasti Survey, of which I am editor in chief).

Students and colleagues can contact me at t.d.stek at knir.it for the Field Schools or research projects.
Regions: Central Italy, Southern Italy
Periods: Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Iron Age, Late Roman, Roman
Institutes: Leiden University