Antonio Montesanti

Department: Classics & Ancient History
Discipline: Classics and Ancient History

Project Summary

The project started as study of the boundaries in the Classical World. Which is the real meaning of a demarcation line in the Classical period? What did the Greeks and Romans really think about the concept of boundary, border, frontier, limit and liminal? To what extent, and possibly when and where, has the conceptual idea of marker line developed between the two different realities?

The main idea research, which the research is based on, to report those cases which can give an exhaustive and clearer idea of the concept of boundaries under a classical perspective. The meaning of the words, which indicate a boundary, is intentioned to be found in the historical materialisation or real contexts.

If the modern category of boundary nowadays is taken for granted and easily applied to the ancient times, this study might reveal a different acception of the terms listed above from the point of view of the ancients: undertaking a deep discourse regarding the double meaning of the boundary as a link or a divider and as a sacred or political value.

After the first year, the attention of the themes has been shifted on the materialization and creation of idea of border in the different phases of Roman imperialism (4th BC – 2nd AD). Thus, study has taken a comparative understanding of the conceptual modern idea of boundary relate to the late Roman Empire and consequently assess the differing perspectives.

‘Natural’ frontiers have proved as elusive historically as scientific frontiers. This does not mean there were never any rational debates about where territorial lines should be drawn, but there is always a sort of conflict between military, political, and administrative considerations. The ‘natural frontiers’ would have been deemed a political instrument of imperialism by going on to claim that the limites of Rome were a subjective “symbol of might or domination”, an artificial tool of organization and a base of conquest, not delimitation.

The adopted strategy in my research has been considered in order to have a continue comparison and a strong link with the modern concept of boundary, introducing new notions of border as detached and different from the modern ones. The social and cultural construction of political boundaries remains outside the current focus of post-processualist archaeology, despite the significance of borders for the representation of power, one of the most popular topics with archaeologists interested in symbols and ideology.

In the Roman period, chiefly during the Empire, the frontiers have been the key point of the research. Strongly linked with a military context, the imperial borders went over the ideal, immaterial, natural boundaries, becoming anymore an impalpable concept. The possibility of a human entity such as cultural, social or political to manage the borders not just as an environmental element but as a necessity of warfare has been targeted as the growing klimax of the research. The attention for the materialisation of the border, which is still considered the very Roman revolution on the concept of boundary, has been studied firstly in those s.c. ‘contact or key points’ and therefore in those monuments, which had the function of border markers and have been considered as a new, different perspective for the whole work.

Interesting results have been achieved, in assessing the Roman period as well as many emphasised border points have been identified and localised. Particularly, starting with the expansionism and transformation of power, through the manipulation of space in organising the different spheres of command, new monumental models for the emphasis of the borders have been detected. Chiefly, in a well-defined period, the victory monuments started to be linked with the landscape and at the end of the Republic / begin of the Empire the acquired the new function of border-detectors, improving research toward a visual and material presence of the borders in the Roman world with the detection of monuments marking the borders.

A new line of acting toward a perspective of monuments and relevance of boundaries has been undertaken. Victory monuments as spoils of war, trophies and arches seem to find a definitive consecration with Augustus. This connective net, which has been defined by the first emperor, is a series of relevant places and monuments, landscapes and human activity as part of a sort of plan which concerns also the interconnectivity between environment, regions, provinces, roads and Rome. In this way, the impalpable line of time and space became real in these defined points.

Supervisory Team

1st Supervisor: Dr Elena Isayev, Lecturers in Classics & Ancient History (

2nd Supervisor: Dr Martin Pitts, Lecturers in Classics & Ancient History (

Wider Research Interests

The relationship between populations, Native and Conquers, Colonies and Fatherlands, under a social, artistic and political point of view. Interactions between population and territory with an emphasis on the the topographical identities and proper features. Perconnective models as determination of identities are also the basis and development built by different civilties up. In searching those connections artistical, historical, and geographical sector of the Greek, Roman, Etruscan and Celtic world are part of my personal wider pathway. 

Authored Publications/Reports

A. Montesanti (2007) HIPPONION. VIBO GRECA. Storia ed archeologia di Vibo Valentia dalle origini alla deduzione della colonia romana. GB EditoriA, Roma. (2010 2nd ed.)., [HIPPONION. GREEK VIBO. History and archaeology of Vibo Valentia from origins to the foundation of Roman colony].

A. Montesanti (2008) ALESSANDRO IL GRANDE. La Storia, il viaggio, dell’ultimo eroe, GB EditoriA, Roma 2008, [ALEXANDER THE GREAT. Last Hero's history and his journey]

A. Montesanti (2008) La monetazione d‘impero e d’alleanza di Crotone. Nummus et Historia XIV, Associazione Culiturale Italiana Numismatica, Libreria Classica Editrice Diana, Cassino., [The imperial and alliance coinage of Kroton.]

A. Montesanti (July 1998) Ipponio, Locri e lo scudo di Olimpia. Nuove luci sui rapporti fra la subcolonia e la madrepatria [Hipponion, Lokroi and the shield from Olympia. Light on the relationships between colony and fatherland], ROGERIUS – Bollettino dell’Istituto della Biblioteca Calabrese, anno 1, n° 2, luglio-dicembre 1998, 73-93

A. Montesanti (January 2005) Ipponio. Il pensiero orfico-pitagorico e i suoi risvolti politici [Hipponion. The orphish-pythagorean thought and its political implications], ROGERIUS – Bollettino dell’Istituto della Biblioteca Calabrese, 7, n° 1, gennaio-giugno 2005, 97-104

A. Montesanti (January 2006) Per lo studio delle ville romane in Calabria. L’occupazione romana [Roman villas in Calabria. The Roman occupation] ], ROGERIUS – Bollettino dell’Istituto della Biblioteca Calabrese, anno 9, n° 1, gennaio-giugno 2006, 75-83

A. Montesanti (January 2007) Archeologia e tipologia delle ville romane in Calabria [Archaeology and typology of the Roman villas in Calabria], ROGERIUS – Bollettino dell’Istituto della Biblioteca Calabrese, anno 10, n° 1, gennaio-giugno 2007, 87-99