Alejandro G. Sinner

Alejandro G.  Sinner
Associate Professor

PhD (Barcelona)

Office: Clearihue B423


My research focuses on the social, economic and cultural history of Roman Spain and the western provinces. Most notably, I have conducted research and published in Iberian numismatics and epigraphy, demography, household archaeology, cultural change and identity formation, pre-Roman languages and archaeological method and theory.

I am happy to supervise Master’s theses in any of the above research areas. However, due to time and resources I am devoting most of my time to my on-going research projects; I am especially interested in supervising theses dealing with ancient demography, archaeometric analysis of black gloss ceramics and lead objects and cultural change in the Western Mediterranean.

Select Recent Publications:


La ceca de Ilduro, Oxford: Archaeopress Archaeology, 29 (2017).

Palaeohispanic Languages and Epigraphies, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2019)

Articles & Book Chapters:

Baitolo, a native shipowner’s vessel, and the participation of northern Iberians in the Laietanian wine-trade under the Late Republic. Journal of Roman Archaeology 33 (2020), 371-388. (co-authored with J. Ferrer)

The Underwater Site of Las Amoladeras, Cabo de Palos (Cartagena). New Archaeometric Approaches. Zephyrus 85 (2020), 139-162. (co-authored with D. Martinez and M. Ferrante)

Lead Isotope Evidence of Lead Supply in Ancient Ilduro (Second-First centuries B.C.E.). Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 12 (2019), article 131 (co-authored with M. Ferrante, S. Nisi and P. R. Trincherini)

Trade between Minturnae and Hispania in the Late Republic. A Comparative Analysis of the Minturnaean Lead Issues and the Spanish Plomos Monetiformes of the Italo-Baetican Series, and the Numismatic and Epigraphic Evidence of the Trade. The Numismatic Chronicle 179 (2019), 123-171 (co-authored with C. Stannard and M. Ferrante)

Methods of palaeodemography: the case of the Iberian oppida and Roman cities in north-eastern Spain. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 38(3), (2019), 302-324. (co-authored with C. Carreras)

Coin evidence for Palaeohispanic languages. In A.G. Sinner and J. Velaza (eds.), Palaeohispanic Languages and Epigraphies, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2019), 365-395. (co-authored with P. P. Ripollès)

Analyzing technical choices: improving the archaeological classification of Late Republican Black Gloss pottery in north-eastern Hispania consumption centers. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11, (2019), 3155-3186 (co-authored with M. Madrid)

Rural religion, religious places and local identities in Hispania: the sanctuary at Can Modolell (Cabrera de Mar, Barcelona). Journal of Roman Archaeology 30 (2017), 267-282 (co-authored with V. Revilla).

Del oppidum de Burriac a las termas de Ca l’Arnau. Una aproximación a la lengua y la identidad de los habitantes de Ilduro (Cabrera de Mar, Barcelona), Archivo Español de Arqueología 89 (2016), 193-223. (co-authored with J. Ferrer) 

Cultural contacts and identity construction: a colonial context in NE Spain (2nd – early 1st c. B.C.)," Journal of Roman Archaeology 28 (2015), 7-37.

A Central Italian coin with "Dionysus / panther" types, and contacts between central Italy and Spain, in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Saguntum 46 (2014), 159-180 (co-authored with C. Stannard).

Research in progress:

I am currently working on two books and leading three different research projects (see below) from which several co-authored articles will be published. The first book, a co-edited volume discussing religious dynamics and cultural change in Hispania, aims to provide a deeper understanding of new forms of historical analysis of religious phenomena (cult, rituals, and spaces) in the ancient world and to evaluate their explanatory potential in order to understand the processes of cultural and social change. More specifically, the processes associated with the impact of a conquest and the subsequent colonial process. Religious phenomena are valued as a privileged field of study, since they allow transversal analysis (from the political to the social and economic spheres), combining the public and private spheres (an interesting duality that, on the other hand, appears too rigid), and the individual and collective levels (recognizing very diverse grouping forms), from a multidisciplinary perspective. In this book, the consideration of religion as a simple historical epiphenomenon reduced to the cultural sphere that would directly reflect political and socioeconomic dynamics is avoided. Instead, other important questions such as what position the religious sphere might have occupied in the definition of forms of cultural and social identity in the ancient world will be explored.

Moving from the broader to a more detailed list of objectives, the book also envisages the analysis of specific situations at a local and regional level, including their main characteristics and evolution. Identifying different forms of religious interaction at many different levels and scales will also be an important component of the book.  Public, private, individual, collective, and institutional forms of religiosity, identity, and memory will be discussed, always in the context of the process of the Roman conquest and its subsequent process of stabilization.


The second volume is a co-authored study on the demography of Hispania Citerior. The book aims to lay the foundations of this promising research area for the Iberian peninsula, as it is currently in its infancy, by focusing in its largest province, Hispania Citerior (later Tarraconensis). The goal is to provide the first comprehensive state-of-the-art analysis of the pre-Roman and Roman demography of the province and its diachronic comparison.

Traditionally, demographic studies have analysed the Roman Empire using a large-scale approach, considering provinces or large cities as basic units. Therefore, population estimates could vary according to calculation methods or data sets that affected the Empire as a whole. Contemporary scholars believe that this approach conveys a general view of ancient demography and provides some basic trends and grand narratives, although data sets are always prone to error when they are analysed at a smaller scale. Without rejecting such a holistic approach, more precise studies, at a provincial and even regional level, are required to generate solid demographic estimates that can later be compared with other regions and historical periods, and become high quality ‘big data.’

By studying the province of Hispania Citerior in depth, this book seeks to advance the situation described above by defining methodologies that will allow for the first time diachronic comparisons between different periods. Also, limiting the geographical scope of the manuscript to a single province will allow us to provide the necessary focus and detailed snapshots of specific methodologies, issues, and approaches by using a significant number of case studies (cities), chosen based on the quality and quantity of data available.

Current Research Projects:

1. Beyond contacts: tracing identities and cultural change in the Roman West.

The first research objective of the project (2018-2022) is to redefine perceptions about how the Roman provincial community of Ilduro-Iluro had its roots in a unique and dynamic culturally heterogeneous milieu. This heterogeneous composition allows us to trace within the archaeological record a wide range of cultural practices that took place on a daily basis. Some of these practices changed rapidly during the 2nd c. BCE, while others seem to be maintained over a longer period. The second objective is to bring light to the active role that Cabrera de Mar (ancient Ilduro) still had in the formation, negotiation and renegotiation of local and regional identities along with cultural practices, after its abandonment as an urban center. The presence of the monumental rural sanctuary known as Can Modolell (1st-3rd c. CE) and its rich epigraphic corpus shows that people participated actively in collective rituals, making them an ideal occasion to re-enact traditions but also to create and re-shape local identities.

The project includes the excavation of the following archaeological sites:

Excavations at ancient Ilduro (Cabrera de Mar) Catalonia, Spain (2014-present).

Sanctuary of Can Modolell (Cabrera de Mar) Catalonia, Spain (2017-present).


2. Mediterranean Connectivity: Economy, Trade and Commercial Circuits in the Roman West (2nd c. BCE --1st c. CE)

This interdisciplinary project (2020-2023) aims to contribute to elucidate the integral role of trade and supply in Rome’s global empire by employing techniques associated with archaeometry to the study of ceramic and lead objects.

By documenting and quantifying new archaeological evidence for contacts, commercial circuits and trade networks between the principal confederations of southern Gaul (France), Hispania Citerior (Spain), and the peoples of the Italian peninsula during the late Roman Republic and the transition into the Empire (2nd-1st c. B.C.E.), the project explores the extent to which this ancient global market created asymmetrical socio-economic relationships of domination and exploitation between and within production and consumption centers.


3. The 'Ses Llumetes' Wreck (Porto Cristo, Majorca): Trade, Shipbuilding and Technology in the Western Mediterranean during the 1st century CE

The project (2020-2022) will excavate a well preserved 1st c. BCE Roman wreck – the Ses Llumetes – and it will study two basic elements of any ancient or modern society: trade and technology.

The project has four scientific objectives: 1) Excavating this exciting new discovery; 2) Studying the cargo to determine the exact chronology of the vessel, the route it followed and the type of products that it carried; 3) Studying shipbuilding techniques: the set of technical and architectural solutions employed by the shipyard will be determined thanks to the exceptional preservation of the hull and other wooden components of the wreck; 4) Studying Roman concrete: the Ses Llumetes is the first wreck ever documented carrying volcanic tephra (perhaps pozzolana). Our team will conduct experimental work with this type of pumice, revealing the secrets of (volcanic) glass performance in Roman marine concrete and the keys that ensured its longterm durability.