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Dr Eleanor Betts

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Profile summary

Professional biography

I graduated from Reading University with a degree in Classical Studies with Major Latin, immediately followed by an MA in the City of Rome. This was succeeded by a DPhil (PhD) at Oxford University, on the subject of the sacred landscape of Iron Age Central Adriatic Italy (Marche). During my DPhil I began teaching for the Open University, as an Associate Lecturer, and also for the Department of Classics and School of Continuing Education at Reading University. For several years I worked in the School of Continuing Education (Reading University), where I was responsible first for Archaeology and Ancient History, then for all the short course and Certificate of HE programmes, and continued to work as an Associate Lecturer. I joined the Department of Classical Studies at the Open University as a lecturer in September 2012.

Research interests

My research explores Roman urbanism and religion in Roman and Iron Age Italy (primarily Picenum - modern Marche and North Abruzzo), with an emphasis on the interrelationships between the human body, material culture and architecture. I am concerned with questions of individual and group identities, and the concepts and use of space. This is all underpinned by sensory studies; specifically, the development and application of multisensory approaches to understanding people's construction, experience and use of urban and ritual space, and phenomenological approaches to ancient Italic sacred landscapes. I am a founding member of the Sensory Studies in Antiquity network and on the series advisory board for Studies in Roman Space and Urbanism.

I have worked on a number of archaeological fieldwork projects in Italy, including the Tavoliere-Gargano Prehistory Project and Albagino Sacred Lake Project.


Selected Publications

Betts, E. (ed.) (2017) Senses of the Empire: Multisensory Approaches to Roman Culture, Abingdon, Routledge. 

Betts, E. (2016) 'Places of transition and deposition: phenomena of water in the sacred landscape of Iron Age Central Adriatic Italy'. Accordia Research Papers, 14 pp. 63–83.

Betts, E. (2013) ‘Cubrar matrer: goddess of the Picenes?’, in R.D. Whitehouse and J. B. Wilkins (eds.) Accordia Research Papers 12, London: Accordia Research Institute, University of London.

Betts, E. (2011) ‘Towards a multisensory experience of movement in the City of Rome’, in R. Laurence and D. Newsome (eds.) Rome, Ostia and Pompeii: Movement and Space. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.118-32.

Betts, E. (2003) ‘The sacred landscape of Picenum (900-100 BC): towards a phenomenology of cult places’ in J. B. Wilkins and E. Herring (eds.) Inhabiting Symbols: symbol and image in the ancient Mediterranean. London: Accordia Research Institute, University of London, pp.101-20.

See also Open Research Online for further details of Eleanor Betts' research publications.

Teaching interests

As an Associate Lecturer and Lecturer in Classical Studies, I have had the privilege of teaching several OU Classical Studies modules, including: A229 Exploring the Classical WorldA276 Classical Latin: the language of ancient Rome, A340 The Roman Empire and the MA in Classical Studies

Impact and engagement

Deputy Director of The Baron Thyssen Centre for the Study of Ancient Material Religion

Classics Confidential podcast on Senses

Lead Educator for the Health and Wellbeing in the Ancient World MOOC

To find out more about the Picenes, you can watch this video interview filmed for Classics Confidential

External collaborations