Claire Watson
Claire Watson Office: Phone: Email
2022-23 Rudolph Field Research Fellow

The project "Roman Market Integration, 4th-Early 7th c. CE" attempts to trace the movement of goods from the Mediterranean into late Roman provinces on the Balkan peninsula, largely in the modern states of Bulgaria and Romania. Far from being poorly-connected remote backwaters, sites on the Black Sea and along the Danube were connected to major centers and far-flung regions, evinced by the significant amount of imports found in the archaeological record. This points to the central question of this project: How well-connected were these provinces with the wider Mediterranean world? To begin to answer this question, quantitative ceramics data from known archaeological sites will be used to reconstruct flows of goods, identifying trade links for various products and measuring their intensity, consistency, and duration (i.e., "trade-thickness"). In doing so, this project aims to introduce much-needed quantitative assessments to studies of ancient economic integration and connectivity. Previous studies have described ancient connectivity in qualitative terms, offering subjective assessments like "strong" or "weak.” In analyzing archaeological data quantitatively, this project will provide a basis for re-evaluating these assessments and furthering our understanding of the specific degrees to which various provincial cities, military sites, and peripheral regions were connected on a larger scale. 


Claire Watson is an underwater archaeologist and PhD candidate at the University of Chicago. Their scholarly interests include economic anthropology, the informal economy, and ancient ceramics. Their dissertation research seeks to analyze the material culture of the Late Roman Balkan provinces to understand ancient economics, trade, and materially-driven sociality along imperial peripheries. They hold a BA in Classics from Duke University and a MS in Maritime Archaeology from Texas A&M University.