Dr. Tesse Stek

  • Assistant Professor in Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology
  • Mediterranean archaeology
  • Ancient Italy

Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 2929
E-Mail: t.d.stek@arch.leidenuniv.nl
Faculty / Department: Faculteit Archeologie, World Archaeology, Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology
Office Address: Van Steenis gebouw
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden
Room number B110

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Dr. Tesse D. Stek is Assistant Professor in Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology. After studying European and Mediterranean Archaeology in Amsterdam and Rome, Tesse wrote his dissertation on ancient Italy at the University of Amsterdam, which involved extensive fieldwork in Central-Southern Italy. Before coming to Leiden, he taught archaeological theory, Greek, Etruscan and especially Roman archaeology at the Universities of Amsterdam, Nijmegen and Oxford. He worked as post-doc at the Faculty of Classics at Oxford (Rubicon, NWO) and was elected Golding Junior Research Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford to conduct research on Roman republican colonization. With a Marie-Curie Fellowship (FP7-IEF) at Glasgow University he expanded this research on early Roman colonization with an archaeological fieldwork approach, setting up a new archaeological project in the territory of the ancient colony of Aesernia (founded 263 BC) in Central-Southern Italy. He came to Leiden in November 2011, amongst other things to further develop the archaeological / fieldwork component of the Classical and Mediterranean department. He develops and teaches courses on all BA and (R)MA levels on topics including fieldwork methodology, Roman and pre-Roman archaeology of the Western Mediterranean, the Archaeology of the Roman economy and the Archaeology of Roman imperialism and colonialism. In 2012, two further grants from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO Free Competition and Veni), enabled him to expand the Roman colonization research line and set up his present research group, in which currently four postdocs, PhD’s and other researchers are involved in Leiden, with several affiliated researchers based in Italy.

Research interests and projects

As part of a broader interest in the development of Roman expansionism and its effects on local societies in the long run, ongoing research projects regard the archaeology and history of Roman Italy in the Republican and early imperial periods. Current projects target the character of Roman Republican expansion and colonization, and its impact on, and interaction with, local non-urban Italic society in Central-Southern Italy (ancient Samnium). Within this overarching historical question, there are two main foci of running (fieldwork) projects, 1) on Roman colonial society and settlement organization, and 2) on pre-Roman Italic non-urban societal organization. As to the latter, the central role of rural cult places and religion in Italic society and integration processes during Roman conflict and consequent dominion was the subject of Tesse’s dissertation. Together with a focus on landscape archaeology, this has informed fieldwork projects in Central and Southern Italy over the last decade: in collaboration with the Soprintendenza archeologica del Molise, he co-ordinates field work since 2004, including intensive field surveys around the Hellenistic-Roman temples of S. Giovanni in Galdo, Colle Rimontato, and Gildone, Cupa, and the Larino and Rotello field survey projects, all in Molise together with Dr. J. Pelgrom; and the Via Appia project with Prof. E. Moormann and Dr. S. Mols.

In 2011, he started, together with a group of enthusiastic colleagues, archaeological excavations at the Italic/Samnite/Roman temple of S. Giovanni in Galdo, Colle Rimontato, with the aim to clarify its chronological development in relation to the local settlement pattern, as well as its architectural lay-out in the main monumental phase of the late 2nd century BC/beginning of the 1st century BC. The excavation project is carried out in collaboration with the Soprintendenza archeologica del Molise, in particular Dott.ssa A. di Niro. As a prelude to this research on cult sites, the book Cult places and cultural change in Republican Italy (2009) discusses the development of Italic and Roman cult places after the Roman conquest, as well as different ways in which Rome impacted on religious practice in the Italian peninsula (‘religious romanisation'). A collection of papers on this subject will soon come out.

In 2013, a new NWO Roman colonization program has started, as part of which fieldwork is being conducted and/or planned in the territory of Aesernia (2011-2012: Marie Curie; 2013- NWO) and several other areas in Central and Southern Italy. A collection of ancient historical and archaeological papers, the result of a European Science Foundation (ESF) Exploratory Workshop, on Roman Republican colonization is in preparation.

Selection of papers (2008 -)

Seattle New excavations at the Samnite Temple of S. Giovanni in Galdo, Colle Rimontato (Molise, Central-Southern Italy), AIA Seattle, January 5, 2013.  

Harvard Cult places and societal organization in Latin colonies in the Republican period, invited lecture at Harvard University, Cambridge (MA), October 17, 2012.

Brown State Organization and Cult Places in Latin Colonies, invited lecture at Brown University, Providence R.I, October 11, 2012.

Brown Sacred Landscapes in Samnium. Rural Cult Places and State Formation in Republican Italy, class Brown University, Providence R.I, October 10, 2012.

Dartmouth College, Annual Zarbin Lecture: Sacred Landscapes in Samnium: Rural Cult Places & State Formation in Republican Italy, Dartmouth College, Hanover (New Hampshire), October 4, 2012.

Santadi Il Paesaggio Sacro del Sannio, Santadi (Sardinia), June 15, 2012

Grenoble The role of cults and cult places in the construction of new communities in Republican Italy, Communautés nouvelles séminaire (Grenoble, 18 May 2012)

Glasgow Roman colonies, Samnite sanctuaries: settlement organisation in marginal landscapes in Central-Southern Italy (Glasgow, 7 December 2011)

Oxford Looking for Vespasian’s roots: village life in Roman Italy, (Brasenose College –St Anne’s Classics Research Symposium, Oxford, 26 November 2010)

Oxford Cult places and rural society in Central-Southern Italy, (Roman Archaeology Discussion Forum, Oxford, 13 October 2010)

Rome Introduction to the workshop. The impact of Rome on cult places and religion in Italy: archaeological and institutional contexts (Royal Dutch Institute at Rome, 21 May 2010)

Sorbonne Aspects de la colonisation romaine en milieu rural (Sorbonne, Paris, 6 May 2010)

Cardiff ‘The world of non-cities’. Roman colonisation and non-urban settlement (Classical Association, Annual Meeting, Cardiff , 8 April  2010)

Rome (DAI) Location and function of sanctuaries in Italic society. Modern conceptions and a case-study on S. Giovanni in Galdo (CB), (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Rom (DAI), Conference Topologia del Sacro, Rome, 6 October 2008)

Rome Rural sanctuaries and ideas on settlement organisation in Republican Central Italy (XVII International Congress of Classical Archaeology (AIAC, Meetings between cultures in the ancient Mediterranean), Rome, 22-26 September 2008)

Chicago Sanctuaries and Society in Central-Southern Italy in the Republican Period, (American Institute of Archaeology (AIA) Annual Meeting, Chicago, 4 January 2008)




Cult places and cultural change in Republican Italy. A contextual approach to religious aspects of rural society after the Roman conquest
, Amsterdam Archaeological Series 14, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2009.


Sanctuary and Society in Central-Southern Italy (3rd-1st centuries BC). A study into cult places and cultural change after the Roman conquest of Italy
, Amsterdam 2008.

Edited books

Stek, T.D./G.-J. Burgers (eds.), The impact of Rome on cult places and religion in Italy. New approaches to change and continuity (Proceedings of the Workshop at the Royal Netherlands Institute at Rome) in press.

Stek, T.D./J. Pelgrom (eds.), Roman republican colonization: new perspectives from archaeology and ancient history (proceedings of the ESF Workshop, in prep.) in prep.

Articles and contributions to volumes (accepted / in press)

Material culture, Italic identities and the Romanization of Italy, in: J. DeRose Evans (ed.), Blackwell Companion to the Archaeology of the Roman Republican Period, 2013 in press.

Monumental Architecture of Non-Urban Cult Places in Roman Italy, in: C. Quenemoen and R. Ulrich (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Roman Architecture, 2013 in press

Cult, conquest and colonization. The impact of Rome on cult places and religion in Italy between local communities and ‘religious romanisation’, in Stek/Burgers (eds.), The impact of Rome...in press

Questions of cult and continuity in late Republican Roman Italy: ‘Italic’ or ‘Roman’ sanctuaries and the so-called pagus-vicus system, in: M. Jehne, B. Linke, J. Rüpke (eds.), Religiöse Vielfalt und soziale Integration. Die Bedeutung der Religion für die kulturelle Identität und die politische Stabilität im republikanischen Italien. (in press)

A landscape archaeological perspective on the functioning of a rural cult place in Samnium: field surveys around the sanctuary of S. Giovanni in Galdo (Molise) (with J. Pelgrom), Journal of Ancient Topography 20 (2012), 41-102.

Ricerche archeologiche nel Comune di Rotello, in A. Di Niro (ed.), Carta archeologica del Molise. (with J. Pelgrom)

De mediterrane leefwereld (with N. de Haan), in: N. de Haan/S. Mols (eds), Een cultuurgeschiedenis van de Klassieke Oudheid, 2012, 7-17.

Centrum en Periferie (with O. Hekster), in: N. de Haan/S. Mols (eds), Een cultuurgeschiedenis van de Klassieke Oudheid 2012, 100-117.

Colonies, cults and communities. The religious romanisation of Italy in the Republican period [in Dutch with English summary], Lampas 42.3 (2009), 172-185.

A Roman cult in the Italian countryside? The Compitalia and the shrines of the Lares Compitales, BABesch 83 (2008), 111-132.

The Samnites: Greek, Roman and Samnite perspectives [in Dutch], Nieuwsbrief van de Vereniging Vrienden van Satricum en de Stichting Nederlands Studiecentrum voor Latium, Vol. 13 (2006), 21-28.

Samnite Sanctuaries Surveyed: Preliminary Report of the Sacred Landscape Project 2004, BABesch 80 (2005), 65-71. (with J. Pelgrom)

Rome and Samnium: a dialogue [in Dutch with English summary], Tijdschrift Mediterrane Archeologie 32 (2004), 29-36.

Sacred landscapes and survey: an approach to the interpretation of the romanisation of Central-Italy [in Dutch with English summary], SOJAbundel 2002/2003, Amsterdam/Leiden 2005, 177-184.

Sacred landscape and the construction of identity: Samnium and the Roman world, in: C.Briault, J.Green, A. Kaldelis, A. Stellatou (eds.), Soma: Symposium on Mediterranean Archaeology, (Conference Proceedings London 21- 23 February 2003), BAR Int. Series 1391 (2005), 147-150.

Paesaggio sacrale e romanizzazione: i santuari del Sannio, AIAC News 36 (June 2003).

Some new observations. Architectural Elements on the East Terrace & The lifting holes, in: E. M. Moormann, M. J. Versluys, The Nemrud Project. Second Interim Report, BABesch 78 (2003), 150-154. (with M. J. Versluys)

The Site Information System (SIS), in: E. M. Moormann,   M. J. Versluys, The Nemrud Project. Second Interim Report, BABesch 78 (2003), 146-147. (with E. Thiermann)

The Site Information System (SIS), in: E. M. Moormann,   M. J. Versluys, The Nemrud Project. First Interim Report, BABesch 77 (2002), 93-96. (with E. Thiermann)

John Henry Parker. An Englishman in Rome, Maliënkolder 8 (2000), 5-13.


Review of: Lacam, J.-C, Variations rituelles : les pratiques religieuses en Italie centrale et méridionale au temps de la deuxième Guerre punique Rome, 2010, JRS 2012, 345-346.

Review of: N. T. de Grummond, I. Edlund-Berry (eds.), The Archaeology of Sanctuaries and Ritual in Etruria, 2011, BMCR 2012.04.42.

Review of: O. de Cazanove, Civita Di Tricarico I. Le Quartier de la Maison du Monolithe et L’enceinte Intermédiaire (Collection de L’École Française de Rome; 409). Rome: École française de Rome, 2008, in: BABesch 87 (2012), 241-243.

Review of: M. L. Marchi, Ager Venusinus II. Forma Italiae 43, Florence: Olschki, 2010, in: BABesch 87 (2012), 246-248.

The Samnite Wars (Review of L. Grossmann, Roms Samnitenkriege, 2009), Classical Review 60, issue 02 (2010), 517-519.

Review of: C.E. Schultz, P.B. Harvey, Jr (eds.), Religion in Republican Italy, Cambridge 2008², in BABesch 85 (2010), 224-225.

Settlement and Cultural Change in Central-Southern Italy, Long review of: Jones, H., Samnium. Settlement and Cultural Change, 2004, Journal of Roman Archaeology 19 (2006), 401-406.

Internal field reports

Schedatura dei siti archeologici del territorio del Comune di Larino, Internal report for the Soprintendenza archeologica del Molise (2009). (with J. Pelgrom)

Schedatura dei siti archeologici del territorio del Comune di Rotello, Internal report for the Soprintendenza archeologica del Molise (2009). (with J. Pelgrom)

Sacred Landscape Project: campagna di ricognizione marzo 2004.  Schede dei siti archeologici dell’agro di San Giovanni in Galdo e Gildone (CB). Report for the Soprintendenza archeologica del Molise (2004). (with J. Pelgrom)



Last Modified: 01-02-2016