Carlos F. Noreña


Member, Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

Director, Mario Del Chiaro Center for the Study of Ancient Italy

My research focuses on the ancient Roman world, with particular interests in the political and cultural history of the period c. 200 BCE–300 CE; the historical geography of the Roman empire, especially in the Roman West; and comparative ancient empires.

I am currently at work on three research projects of varying scope that address these topics. The first is a monograph, under contract with Princeton University Press and tentatively titled Empire of Laws: Lawmaking and Imperialism in the Roman Republic, on the relationship between law, imperialism, and political culture in the middle and late Republic. This book project investigates the role of legal mechanisms, especially statutory law, in structuring Republican imperialism. Its central thesis is that the conquest, annexation, and material exploitation of overseas territories during this period were all propelled by a distinctively republican form of ordering the world, a form reflected above all in the legal apparatus of empire. In connection with this project, I am also part of a team preparing a new, digital edition of Roman Statutes.

A second project is exploring the wild, dynamic, and sweeping Atlantic façade of the Roman world. In the context of the Roman empire as a whole, the Atlantic rim—a macro-region that traces a natural arc from southern Ireland and southwest Britain, across the Atlantic littoral of Gaul and the Iberian peninsula, to the Strait of Gibraltar and the far northwestern corner of the African continent—may be seen as a sort of ecological “frontier,” defined by the ocean itself. This Atlantic façade has been ignored in studies of the Roman empire as a political and economic system—unrecognized, it seems, as a coherent geographical unit of historical analysis. Through a series of articles (including a chapter in a Festschrift for Brent Shaw), conferences (including a seminar at the 2020 Society for Classical Studies Meeting), and edited volumes -- including The Roman Atlantic: Dynamics of an Ocean Frontier (under contract with Oxford University Press) -- I am investigating the long-term history of the Roman Atlantic with special attention to frontier zones, political economy, commercial networks, and provincial cultures and identities.

I am also producing, as an ongoing, third project, a series of comparative, article-length studies on the institutions and ideologies of the Roman and Han (Chinese) empires. Published and forthcoming work in this field has examined monumentality and monarchic ideology; urbanization and social control; urban associations and urban sociability; and monarchic ritual. Works in progress include studies of peripheral (“client”) kingdoms; the relationship between geography and imperial statecraft; and the intersection of “place,” memory, and culture in the two empires. This was the subject of the J. H. Gray Lectures at the University of Cambridge, which I delivered in May 2022.

In a related project, I am also part of the editorial team for a new comparative ancient history series with Cambridge University Press, Antiquity in Global Context.  AGC will be oriented around the ancient Mediterranean world and will publish both comparative and connective studies. Comparative studies will investigate the states, societies, and cultures of the ancient world in an explicity comparative framework, drawing primarily on Mediterranean and Afro-Eurasian cases, but also turning, where appropriate, to case studies from Oceania and the Americas. Connective studies will situate the ancient Mediterranean in broader Eurasian and North African contexts, examining human and material connections with early China, the Indian Ocean world, and adjacent regions of West Asia, Egypt, and North Africa.

I continue to be interested in Roman imperial ideology and representation. My first book, Imperial Ideals in the Roman West (Cambridge, 2011), examined the figure of the Roman emperor as a unifying symbol for the western empire, and argued that the widespread circulation and replication of a particular set of imperial ideals, and the particular form of ideological unification that this brought about, not only reinforced the power of the Roman imperial state, but also increased the authority of local aristocrats throughout the western provinces, thereby facilitating a general convergence of social power that defined the middle Roman empire.

I have also written on (and maintain interests in) the material and visual cultures of the Roman empire; the topography and urban history of the city of Rome; Roman numismatics; Latin epigraphy; textual production and aristocratic self-representation in the early empire; and political thought in the Roman world.


PhD, Ancient History, University of Pennsylvania, 2001

BA, History, University of California, Berkeley, 1993


* = in progress 

* An Empire of LawsLegislation and Imperialism in the Roman Republic (under contract with Princeton University Press).

Imperial Ideals in the Roman West: Representation, Circulation, Power (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Edited Volumes

* = in progress

The Roman AtlanticDynamics of an Oceanic Frontier (under contract with Oxford University Press).

From Document to HistoryEpigraphic Insights into the Greco-Roman WorldSecond North American Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy (2016). Brill Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy, co-ed. N. Papazarkadas (Brill, 2019).

A Cultural History of Empires: Antiquity (Bloomsbury Academic, UK, 2018).

The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation, and Ritual. Yale Classical Studies vol. 35, co-ed. B. Ewald (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Articles & Book Chapters

* = in progress 

* “Constituting Imperial Government, 27 BC–AD 98,” in D. Potter (ed.), Constructing the Imperial System, vol. 5 of The Oxford History of the Roman World (Oxford University Press, 2025).

* "The Problem(s) of Empire," review article in Journal of Roman Studies (2024).

"Antioch as Provincial Capital," forthcoming in A. Di Giorgi (ed.), Antioch on the OrontesHistory, Society, and Visual Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2024).

"Gods | Emperors | Hierarchies: Ritual and Representation under the Qin First Emperor and Augustus," forthcoming in L. Tseng (ed.), The Age of Empires: The Art of the Qin First Emperor (Global Institute for Advanced Studies, New York University, 2024).

“Coinage in the Early and High Roman Empire: Pax, Victory, and Monarchic Ideology,” in Ch. Chrysafis, A. Hartmann, Chr. Schliephake, and G. Weber (eds.), Basileus Eirenophylax: Friedenskultur(en) und monarchische Repräsentation in der Antike (Stuttgart, 2023), 303-17.

"From Wigwams to Worlds: On the Work of Keith Hopkins," Journal of Roman Archaeology 35 (2022) 524-39.

"Imperial Integration on Rome's Atlantic Rim," in H. Flower and A.M. Luijendijk (eds.), Empire and Religion in the Roman World: Essays in Honour of Brent Shaw (Cambridge University Press, 2021), 35-70.

"Monarchy, Benefaction, and Honorific in the Roman Imperial Greek polis," in M. Domingo-Gygax and A. Zuiderhoek (eds.), Benefactors and the Polis: Origins and Development of the Public Gift in the Greek Cities from the Homeric World to Late Antiquity (Cambridge University Press, 2021), 201-21.

"Private Associations and Urban Experience in the Han and Roman Empires," in H. Beck and G. Vankeerberghen (eds.), Rulers and Ruled in Ancient Greece, Rome, and China (Cambridge University Press, 2020), 102-30.

"Romanization in the Middle of Nowhere: The Case of Segobriga," Fragments 8 (2019), 1-32.

"Die Stadt Rom als System sozialer Kontrolle," in P. Eich and K. Wojchiech (eds.), Die Verwaltung der Stadt Rom in der Hohen Kaiserzeit. Formen der Kommunikation, Interaktion und Vernetzung (Paderborn, 2018), 225-51.

"Introduction," in C. Noreña (ed.), A Cultural History of Western Empires: Antiquity (Bloomsbury Academic, UK, 2018), 1-37.

"Imperial Representation and Distributional Politics under Severus Alexander," in N. Elkins and J. DeRose Evans (eds.), Concordia Disciplinarum: Essays on Ancient Coinage, History, and Archaeology in Honor of William E. Metcalf (American Numismatic Society, 2018), 209-22.

"Nero's Imperial Administration," in S. Bartsch et al. (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Nero (Cambridge University Press, 2017), 48-62.

"Heritage and Homogeneity: The Civic Coinage of Roman Antioch," in S. Alcock, M. Egri, and J. Frakes (eds.), Beyond Boundaries: Connecting Visual Cultures in the Provinces of Ancient Rome (Getty Publications, 2016), 294-306.

"Ritual and Memory: Hellenistic Ruler Cults in the Roman Empire," in K. Galinsky (ed.), Cultural Memories in the Roman Empire (Getty Publications, 2016), 86-100.

"Urban Systems in the Han and Roman Empires: State Power and Social Control," in W. Scheidel (ed.), State Power in the Han and Roman Empires (Oxford University Press, 2015), 181-203.

"Chang'an and Rome: Structural Parallels and the Logics of Urban Form," in M. Nylan and G. Vankeerberghen (eds.), Chang'an 26 BCE: From Drains to Dreams (University of Washington Press, 2015), 75-97.

"Authority and Subjectivity in the Apology," in B. Lee et al. (eds.), Apuleius and Africa (Routledge, 2014), 35-51.

"Locating the Ustrinum of Augustus," Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 58 (2013), 51-64.

"The Sociospatial Embeddedness of Roman Law," Journal of Roman Archaeology 26 (2013), 565-74.

"Self-fashioning in the Panegyricus," in P. Roche (ed.), Pliny's Praise: The Panegyricus in the Roman World (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 29-44.

"Coins and Communication," in M. Peachin (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Social Relations in the Roman World (Oxford University Press, 2011), 248-68.

"Introduction," with B. Ewald, in B. Ewald and C. Noreña (eds.), The Emperor and Rome: Space, Representation, and Ritual. Yale Classical Studies vol. 35 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), 1-43.

"The Early Imperial Monarchy," in A. Barchiesi and W. Scheidel (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies (Oxford University Press, 2010), 533-46.

"The Ethics of Autocracy in the Roman World," in R. Balot (ed.), A Companion to Greek and Roman Political Thought (Blackwell, 2009), 266-79.

"Hadrian's Chastity," Phoenix 61.3-4 (2007), 296-317.

"The Social Economy of Pliny's Correspondence with Trajan," American Journal of Philology 128.2 (2007), 239-77.

"Water Distribution and the Residential Topography of Augustan Rome," in L. Haselberger and J. Humphrey (eds.), Imaging Ancient Rome: Documentation-Visualization-Imagination, Journal of Roman Archaeology supplement 61 (Portsmouth, RI, 2006), 91-105.

"Medium and Message in Vespasian's Templum Pacis," Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 48 (2003), 25-43.

"The Communication of the Emperor's Virtues," Journal of Roman Studies 91 (2001), 146-68.


E. Heldaas Seland, A Global History of the Ancient World: Asia, Europe and Africa before Islam (Routledge 2022), Classical Review 73 (2023), 548-9.

H. Zehnacker and N. Méthy, Pline le jeune, Lettres Tome IV: Livre X (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2017), Gnomon 95 (2023), 224-46.

H. Fertik, The Ruler's HouseContesting Power and Privacy in Julio-Claudian Rome (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), Gnomon 94 (2022), 475-77.

S. Benoist, Le pouvoir à Rome: espacetempsfigures (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2020), sehepunkte 21 (2021), nr. 6.

M. Duggan, M. Jackson, and S. Turner (eds.), Ceramics and Atlantic ConnectionsLate Roman and Early Medieval Imported Pottery on the Atlantic Seaboard (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2020), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2021.06.10.

C. Davenport, A History of the Roman Equestrian Order (Cambridge University Press, 2019), American Historical Review 125 (2020), 1484-5.

E. Dench, Empire and Political Cultures in the Roman World (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2019.07.48.

C. Ando, Roman Social Imaginaries: Language and Thought in the Context of Empire (University of Toronto Press, 2016), Phoenix 70 (2017), 421-23.

J. Albers, Campus Martius. Die urbane Entwicklung des Marsfeldes von der Republik bis zur mittleren Kaiserzeit (Weisbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 2013), and P. Jacobs and D. Conlin, Campus Martius: The Field of Mars in the Life of Ancient Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2014), Journal of Roman Studies 106 (2016), 285-87.

E. Mayer, The Ancient Middle Classes: Urban Life and Aesthetics in the Roman Empire, 100 BCE-250 CE (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012) American Historical Review 118 (2013), 1576-77.

S. Benoist (ed.), Rome, a City and its Empire in Perspective: The Impact of the Roman World through Fergus Millar's Research (Leiden: Brill, 2012), sehepunkte 13 (2013), nr. 9.

L. de Arrizabalaga y Prado, The Emperor Elagabalus: Fact or Fiction? (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Classical Review 62.1 (2012), 275-77.

Z. Várhelhyi, The Religion of Senators in the Roman Empire: Power and the Beyond (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2011.04.40.

P. Rehak, Imperium and Cosmos: Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius (University of Wisconsin Press, 2006), Journal of Roman Studies 98 (2008), 257-58.

C. Maier, Among Empires: American Ascendancy and its Predecessors (Harvard University Press, 2006), Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 8:2 (2007).

G. Sumi, Ceremony and Power: Performing Politics in Rome between Republic and Empire (University of Michigan Press, 2005), Classical Review 57.1 (2007), 178-79.

O. Hekster and R. Fowler (eds.), Imaginary Kings: Royal Images in the Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome. Oriens et Occidens 11 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2005), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2006.07.06.

G. Woolf (ed.), Cambridge Illustrated History of the Roman World (Cambridge University Press, 2003), Classical Review 55 (2005), 614-15.

J. B. Lott, The Neighborhoods of Augustan Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2004), Classical Bulletin 81 (2005), 85-86.

A. S. Hobley, An Examination of Roman Bronze Coin Distribution in the Western Empire A.D. 81-192. BAR International Series 688 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 1998), American Journal of Numismatics 11 (1999), 160-64.

P. Southern, Augustus (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1999.05.16.

Public Writing

“The Glass Half Empty,” review of J. Rapley and P. Heather, Why Empires Fall (Allen Lane, 2023), Times Literary Supplement, July 28, 2023.

“Guide to a Foreign Past: The Scorched-Earth Iconoclasm of Paul Veyne,” Aeon, April 18, 2023.

Additional Links

Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology


2222 Dwinelle Hall

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