Walking the Via Flaminia: Following in the Footsteps of Thomas Ashby and His Companions

By Janet Wade

Janet Wade was recently awarded her Doctor of Philosophy in Ancient History at Macquarie University

The day after I submitted my doctoral thesis, I received the news that I was to be the 2018 Macquarie Gale British School at Rome Fellow. After months of writing and re-writing, I was already feeling a euphoric sense of freedom at reaching this milestone. Now I was going to be spending six months in Rome. Benissimo!

My doctoral research was focused on maritime culture in the eastern Roman empire during the Late Antique period. I investigated the beliefs, vices, and subversive behaviours of sailors and sea-merchants, and their influence on Late Antique society in general. Before that, my Honours thesis looked at maritime rituals in the Graeco-Roman period, particularly the practice of placing coins under the masts of ships. I loved working on both of these fascinating and largely unexplored topics, and with my tirelessly supportive supervisors, Ken Parry (PhD supervisor) and Ken Sheedy (Honours supervisor). Yet, I was also keen to have a short break from the research that had consumed the previous seven years of my life, and the project for which I’d won the fellowship was largely unrelated to my doctoral research.

I am now several months into my Rome fellowship. My new project is on the ancient Roman road known as the Via Flaminia and the research that was done on this – and other Roman roads – by one of the earliest directors of the British School at Rome, Thomas Ashby. I have moved from maritime to terrestrial travel, from shipping lanes to consular roads, and from Late Antiquity back to the Roman Republican and Imperial periods. I am even delving into the early twentieth century world of Thomas Ashby and the British School at Rome. It has been a wonderful and exciting ride. You can read about my journeys on the Via Flaminia here.

I would like to extend a huge and heartfelt thanks to Mrs. Janet Gale, the British School at Rome, and the Department of Ancient History for the wonderful opportunity that I have been given to spend six months in Rome this year. The British School is a dynamic, creative, and welcoming environment and my time here so far has been both productive and immensely enjoyable.

Janet Wade

Janet Wade is the current Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar, resident at the BSR from January to June 2018. Janet's research project is titled Walking the via Flaminia: following in the footsteps of Thomas Ashby and his companions. As part of this project, Janet plans to traverse the entire length of the via Flaminia on foot (and bicycle), along with previous Macquarie Gale Rome Scholar, Nicole Moffatt. Following on from BSR Archivist Alessandra Giovenco's blog on the many faces of Ashby, here Janet talks in more detail about her own exploration both of the via Flaminia and of the rich collection of material in Thomas Ashby's archives at the BSR.