Expeditions from Rome: Thomas Ashby, his BSR companions and the Roman roads of Italy

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In the early twentieth century, Thomas Ashby published extensively on the Roman roads of Italy. The BSR Director was determined to create a lasting record of the ancient Roman road network before it was lost forever. Yet Ashby's research vision was grand and it was too ambitious a task for one man to accomplish on his own. This paper investigates the crucial role of BSR scholars in Ashby's research. It discusses his relationship with the community of residents and scholars at the BSR in the pre- and post-World War I years, especially those with whom he collaborated in order to survey, map and record the Roman roads and their surrounding countryside. Focus is given to Ashby's research on roads like the Via Flaminia and Via Appia as this work highlights his methodology, the collegial environment at the BSR during his directorship, and his successful collaboration with award-holders. To date, the role of these BSR scholars has largely been underrated. Yet there were BSR award-holders — historians, archaeologists and architects — who helped to keep Ashby's research vision alive. Without them, he could not have produced such a comprehensive and impressive body of work on Italy's Roman roads.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-295
Number of pages29
JournalPapers of the British School at Rome
Early online date14 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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