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Professor Ursula Rothe

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Profile summary

Professional biography

Although originally from Australia, I studied for my undergraduate degree in Germany, after which I did my doctorate at the University of Manchester. From 2007-2011 I was at the University of Edinburgh, first as temporary lecturer, then as Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow. In 2012 I was project manager of the final phase of the EU project DressID: Clothing and Identities in the Roman Empire based at the Reiss-Engelhorn Museums in Mannheim, Germany. I joined Classical Studies at the Open University in October 2012.

Research interests

My research looks mainly at dress in the Roman Empire - both Rome and the provinces - and the way that clothing and appearance was used to assert and negotiate cultural identities. I also have an interest in funerary art and epigraphy in general, as well as cultural theory and the way we interpret cultural interaction in the Roman provinces. A have written two monographs, one on dress in northern Gaul and the German provinces (2009), and one on the role of the toga in Roman culture (2019).

I am also interested in the Roman Near East: I ran an excavation project investigating the remains of a late Roman monastery on Tall Zira’a in north-western Jordan from 2010-2014, and am currently, with Prof. Jen Baird at Birkbeck, working on dress iconography and finds from Dura Europos in Syria. I have also been involved in archaeological fieldwork in Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal.

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who would like to work in any of the above areas.

Teaching interests

My teaching experience is mainly in Roman history and archaeology, but have also taught Greek history and Classical art. At the Open University I have helped to write the Roman Empire course (A340) and the new MA in Classical Studies, and I co-chair A863/A864 (the MA in Classical Studies). As Deputy Director of Research Degrees in the faculty, I help look after the faculty's PhD students. 

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

Impact and engagement

I am a regular blogger and contributor to public fora, such as:

Prince Philip may well be Caligula’s horse”: blog post, Rogueclassicism  

Exploring Roman dress”: video interview on Classics Confidential 

I am also a regular advisor to programmes broadcast on the BBC and the German channels ARD and ZDF.

You can listen to a Radio 1 interview with me on the toga here (minutes 7.27-14.23).

I also run a Roman fashion show for schools - please contact me directly if you are interested in this for your school.

Visit my clinic website Doctor Toga for information and advice on Roman dress!

External collaborations

I am a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (Scotland) and a trustee of the Clayton Trust


I have served as co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal Archaeological Textiles Review based at the University of Copenhagen.

I am involved in peer-reviewing project proposals for the European Commission and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft as well as a range of international journals and publishers. 

I am currently involved in the Dutch project Anchoring Innovation and co-supervise one of the project's PhD students. 

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Ancient Material Culture Research ClusterClusterFaculty of Arts


Roman Clavus Decoration on Gallic Dress: A Reevaluation Based on New Discoveries (2023-10-31)
Rothe, Ursula; Hamelink, Anique and Delferrière, Nicolas
American Journal of Archaeology, 127(4) (pp. 545-562)

Excavations in Area III on Tall Zar‘ā (2018)
Rothe, Ursula; Kenkel, Frauke and Zerbini, Andrea
Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, 58 (pp. 257-273)

Tall Zar‘ā, Jordanien: Landwirtschaftlicher Komplex, ländliche Villa im orientalischen Stil oder Klosteranlage? Die Ausgrabungen im Areal III: Die Arbeiten des Jahres 2014 (2015)
Kenkel, Frauke and Rothe, Ursula
e-Forschungsberichte des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, 2 (pp. 23-27)

Dress in the middle Danube provinces: the garments, their origins and their distribution (2012-11)
Rothe, Ursula
Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts, 81 (pp. 137-231)

The “Third Way”: Treveran women’s dress and the “Gallic Ensemble” (2012)
Rothe, Ursula
American Journal of Archaeology, 116(2) (pp. 235-252)

Der Grabstein der Severina Nutrix aus Köln: eine neue Deutung (2011)
Rothe, Ursula
Germania, 89 (pp. 191-214)

Gallische Frauenkleidung in römischer Zeit (2010)
Rothe, Ursula
Mannheimer Geschichtsblätter, 19 (pp. 65-80)

The Toga and Roman Identity (2019-12-12)
Rothe, Ursula
ISBN : 9781472571540 | Publisher : Bloomsbury Academic | Published : London

Dress and Cultural Identity in the Rhine-Moselle Region of the Roman Empire (2009)
Rothe, Ursula
British Archaeological Reports
ISBN : 9781407306155 | Publisher : Archaeopress | Published : Oxford

Veiling in Pannonia (2018-09-27)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Ivleva, Tatiana; De Bruin, Jasper and Driessen, Mark eds. Embracing the Provinces: Society and Material Culture of the Roman Frontier Regions (pp. 93-100)
ISBN : 9781789250152 | Publisher : Oxbow Books | Published : Oxford

The Roman Villa: Definitions And Variations (2018-07-12)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Marzano, Annalisa and Métraux, Guy P. R. eds. The Roman Villa in the Mediterranean Basin: Late Republic to Late Antiquity (pp. 42-58)
ISBN : 9781107164314 | Publisher : Cambridge University Press | Published : Cambridge

Ethnicity (2017)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Harlow, Mary ed. A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion, Vol. 1: Antiquity
ISBN : 9781472557490 | Publisher : Bloomsbury

Ethnicity in the Roman north-west (2014-08-15)
Rothe, Ursula
In: McInerney, Jeremy ed. A Companion to Ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World (pp. 497-513)
ISBN : 9781444337341 | Publisher : Wiley-Blackwell | Published : Oxford

Whose fashion? Men, women and Roman culture as reflected in dress in the cities of the Roman north-west (2013-07)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Hemelrijk, Emily and Woolf, Greg eds. Women and the Roman City in the Latin West. Mnemosyne Supplements, History and Archaeology of Classical Antiquity (360) (pp. 243-268)
ISBN : 9789004255944 | Publisher : Brill | Published : Leiden

Das norische Frauengewand (2013-04-15)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Tellenbach, Michael; Schulz, Regine and Wieczorek, Alfried eds. Die Macht der Toga: Dresscode im römischen Weltreich (pp. 189-193)
ISBN : 978-3-7954-2590-6 | Publisher : Schnell und Steiner | Published : Mannheim

Die norisch-pannonische Tracht: gab es sie wirklich? (2013)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Grabherr, G.; Kainarth, B. and Schierl, T. eds. Relations Abroad? Brooches and Other Elements of Dress as Sources for Reconstructing Interregional Movement and Group Boundaries from the Punic Wars to the Decline of the Western Empire. Ikarus (pp. 33-48)
Publisher : Innsbruck University Press | Published : Innsbruck

Rome, resistance to (cultural) (2012-11)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Bagnall, Roger S.; Broderson, Kai; Champion, Craige B.; Erskine, Andrew and Huebner, Sabine R. eds. The Encyclopedia of Ancient History (pp. 5950-5953)
ISBN : 9781405179355 | Publisher : Wiley-Blackwell

Dress and cultural identity in the Roman Empire (2012)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Harlow, Mary ed. Dress and Identity. University of Birmingham IAA Interdisciplinary Series: Studies in Archaeology, History, Literature and Art (2) (pp. 59-68)
ISBN : 9781407309422 | Publisher : Archaeopress | Published : Oxford

Romanization (2012)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Bagnall, R.S.; Brodersen, K.; Champion, C.B.; Erskine, A. and Huebner, S. eds. The Encyclopedia of Ancient History (pp. 5875-5881)
Publisher : Wiley-Blackwell

Roman Empire, regional cultures (2012)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Bagnall, R.S.; Brodersen, K.; Champion, C.B.; Erskine, A. and Huebner, S. eds. The Encyclopedia of Ancient History (pp. 5866-5870)
Publisher : Wiley-Blackwell

The comparative and interdisciplinary approach and Romanisation studies (2007-09-01)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Schroeder, H.; Bray, P.; Gardner, P.; Jefferson, V. and Macaulay-Lewis, E. eds. Crossing Frontiers: The Opportunities and Challenges of Interdisciplinary Approaches to Archaeology. Proceedings of a Conference held at the University of Oxford, 25-26 June 2005. Oxford University School of Archaeology monograph (66) (pp. 99-110)
ISBN : 978-0954962777 | Publisher : Oxford University School of Archaeology | Published : Oxford

Die Anfänge der Romanisierungsforschung (2005)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Schoerner, Günther ed. Romanisierung - Romanisation. Theoretische Modelle und praktische Fallbeispiele. British Archaeological Reports (BAR) (S1427) (pp. 1-13)
ISBN : 1841718661 | Publisher : Archaeopress | Published : Oxford

Kleidung und Romanisierung: der Raum Rhein-Mosel (2005)
Rothe, Ursula
In: Schörner, Günther ed. Romanisierung - Romanisation. Theoretische Modelle und praktische Fallbeispiele. British Archaeological Reports (B.A.R.) (S1427) (pp. 169-178)
ISBN : 1841718661 | Publisher : Archaeopress | Published : Oxford