Skip to main content

Connecting Late Antiquities

Connecting Late Antiquities is a collaborative project to create open, digital prosopographical resources for the Roman and post-Roman territories between the third and seventh centuries AD. Its main aim is to digitise, unite and link existing resources to make them more accessible and enhance their reach and utility. The enterprise will dramatically improve access to information about late-antique people for all scholars of this period and allow the easy integration of prosopographical material with online geographical, textual, epigraphic and papyrological resources. 

The need for a late-antique prosopography has long been recognised, with Theodor Mommsen planning such a project after the completion of the Prosopographia Imperii Romani. In the second half of the twentieth century, the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire and the ongoing Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire have done much to realise this aim, although no electronic version is available for either of these invaluable reference works. 

Technological developments have provided new opportunities for prosopography, including allowing for both constant updating and an expansion beyond the traditional focus on the higher echelons of society. The Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire and Prosopography of the Byzantine World projects provide excellent examples of the greater possibilities allowed by this approach. Connecting Late Antiquities will draw together material from a variety of major printed prosopographies and specialist digital databases, as well as incorporating entries for 'non-elite' individuals who are attested in ancient sources, but have not been included in earlier publications. This approach will allow more extensive research into understudied figures and their social connections. 

The initial stage of the project is commencing in February 2023 with two years of funding from the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council and Germany’s Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. This has three main aims:

  • The digitisation of the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire, with permission from Cambridge University Press. This three-volume reference work is being updated with addenda and corrigenda and will be transformed into a searchable online resource, complete with internal cross-references and the marking up of places, dates and other personal names, as well as textual, epigraphic and papyrological sources. The Digital Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire will be made openly available on the Cambridge Core platform and will be a very useful resource for scholars in its own right, as well as providing the foundation for our larger project. 

  • The creation of our central Connecting Late Antiquities resource, incorporating material from the Digital Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire and new entries produced by our case studies, as well as linking to information from other digital research projects. This will expand the project's scope and utility and demonstrate the potential of its innovative linked open data methodology, while also increasing the visibility of the linked resources themselves, breathing new life into the digital outputs of completed projects. 

  • The completion of two case studies that demonstrate the utility of these resources for challenging the existing limitations of prosopographical scholarship and advancing our understanding of late antiquity: the first, on North Africa, will explore the interconnectedness of the so-called ‘religious’ and ‘secular’ spheres, an artificial separation currently encouraged by the division of the Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire and the Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire into discrete projects. This research will reveal the workings of elite networks and how they altered when their members entered the Church, as well as demonstrating the wider intellectual potential of reintegrating two halves of an originally unified prosopographical project. The second case study, on Britain, will expand beyond the coverage of Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire to incorporate material concerning other attested figures from late-antique Britain, including clerics and soldiers. 


The project involves a large number of participants and collaborators, including an Advisory Board and Consultative Committee made up of experts in late-antique prosopography and Digital Humanities, as well as representatives of a range of other relevant projects and online resources. The current AHRC-DFG funded stage is led by a core team at Exeter, London and Bonn: 

We are very keen to welcome other collaborators into the project, including scholars who are working on related projects which could be linked to ours. If you are interested in working with us, please contact Richard Flower.