Alejandro G. Sinner

Alejandro G.  Sinner
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Adviser (on leave Fall 2023)
Office: Clearihue B423

PhD (Barcelona)

Area of expertise

Research focus: social, economic and cultural history of Roman Spain and the western provinces. Most notably, published research in Iberian numismatics and epigraphy, demography, household archaeology, cultural change and identity formation, pre-Roman languages and archaeological method and theory.


My research focuses on the social, economic and cultural history of the Late Iron Age Iberia, Roman Hispania and the western provinces. Most notably, I have conducted research and published on Ibero-Roman material culture (especially ceramics and coinage), demography, Palaeohispanic languages, pre-Roman and Roman domestic and religious spaces, and the construction of identities and the processes of cultural change in ancient colonial contexts. Since 2006 I am digging at the site of Ilduro (Cabrera de Mar, Catalonia) in northeastern Spain, where I am also directing a research project and leading an international archaeological field school.

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:


Religion in a Microcontinent: Cult Places, Identities and Cultural Exchange in Hispania, Brepols: Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, vol. 1 (2022) (co-edited with V. Revilla)

Palaeohispanic Languages and Epigraphies, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2019) (co-edited with J. Velaza)

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

Articles & Book Chapters:

Religious practices and rural cult sites in Hispania Citerior: some methodological reflections. In Religion in a Microcontinent: Cult Places, Identities and Cultural Exchange in Hispania. In A.G. Sinner and V. Revilla (eds.), Brepols: Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, vol. 1, 65-78. (co-authored with V. Revilla)

Trade between Minturnae and Hispania in the late Republic (2): The Mines and Societates of Southern Hispania. The Numismatic Chronicle 181 (2021), 53-92. (co-authored with C. Stannard, B. Mora, and G.L. Gregori)

Same Language, Different Diet: Dynamics and Rhythms of Change in Ancient Ilduro (Cabrera De Mar, Barcelona) Based On Epigraphic and Faunal Evidence. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 34.2 (2021), 193-224. (co-authored with A. Nieto-Espinet and S. Valenzuela-Lamas)

Rock Sanctuaries, Sacred Landscapes and the Making of the Iberian Pantheon, Religions (2022), 13, 722. (co-authored with J. Ferrer)

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)

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 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

Archaeology is the only source of evidence for life at the local scale in the classical world. The exploration of individual households provides fascinating insights into the complex lives of their inhabitants, and into how both individuals and groups used artifacts to create their identities within the broader context of Roman power structures. The aim of the Ilduro Archaeological Project (IAP) is to redefine perceptions about how each Roman provincial community had its roots in a unique and dynamic, social and cultural heterogeneous milieu. This diverse composition allows us to trace a wide range of social, economic and cultural practices within the archaeological record. Some of these practices changed continuously and rapidly during the second and early first century B.C.E., while others seem to be maintained for a much longer period. We aim to trace and understand, if never totally reconstruct, these practices and their evolution through time at two different levels: the household and the settlement. The Ilduro Archaeological Project is Interdisciplinary and diachronic in nature. It combines the study of epigraphy and numismatics, art and architecture, and history and archaeology over several centuries. Our theoretical approach is to understand change that does not rely or depend on abstractions and grand narratives such as Romanization. We want to document daily life and everyday practices: to see how things were made, exchanged, used and consumed, and to see what patterns emerge.

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 (2020-2025) 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 (2020-2024) 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.