Christopher Smith, Professor of Ancient History, returns to the University of St Andrews to take up a Leverhulme Major Research Grant after eight highly successful years leading Britain’s largest overseas research institution for humanities and the fine arts, the British School at Rome.
BSR highlights since 2009 include work at dozens of archaeological sites across Italy and the wider Mediterranean basin; the concluding conference and exhibition of the AHRC-funded beacon project Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures, featuring Derek Duncan (School of Modern Languages); a major international conference, Rome and Persia, with Prof. Ali Ansari (School of History and President of the British Institute for Persian Studies); a joint keynote lecture celebrating the UK’s role in MilanExpo 2014 by Lord Stern, President of the British Academy, and Wolfgang Buttress, award-winning architect of the British pavilion; one of the last public events by Seamus Heaney; and a presentation of William Kentridge’s acclaimed installation on the banks of the Tiber, Triumphs and Laments.
Christopher led a €2million building refurbishment which significantly reduced energy costs in the beautiful but notoriously leaky Lutyens designed building which is home to hundreds of researchers and artists every year, and celebrated the beginning of its second century in 2016 wind- and water-tight for the first time in decades. It won the first Premio Hassan Fathy in 2017, awarded by the Ordine degli Architetti di Roma, for the combination of sustainable technology in listed buildings.
Christopher was from 2012 to 2017 the elected President of the Unione Internazionale degli Istituti di Archeologia Storia e Storia dell’Arte in Roma, the body which represents more than thirty foreign and Italian research institutes. The Unione in this time established an annual festival of culture in Rome, signed a concordat with Italy’s Research Council, the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, and oversaw the creation of a library research portal, URBiS, giving access to over two million books, periodicals, photographs and other items for the study of Rome and Italy from antiquity to the present day.
Christopher has been elected a corresponding member of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, a member of the Association for Studi Etruschi ed Italici, and a member of the Accademia Etrusca di Cortona (founded in 1726!). He has also been elected a member of the Academia Europaea, and in 2017 received from the Mayor of Rome the Premio ‘Cultori di Roma’ , on the 2770th birthday of Rome on the Capitoline Hill.