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Classics, Ancient History, Religion and Theology

Photo of Professor Ioana Oltean

Professor Ioana Oltean

Associate Professor in Roman and Remote Sensing Archaeology


01392 725334


Prof. Ioana Oltean specialises in the archaeology of the Roman Empire, particularly in its European provinces, and in aerial archaeology. She is interested in the reconstruction of ancient landscapes, the analysis of settlement pattern evolution and in social changes from the Late Iron Age to the Roman period in the Lower Danube area and in Britain, in order to quantify the nature and extent of their change through Roman imperialist expansion. She has been involved since 1998 in establishing aerial reconnaissance as a standard method of archaeological prospection in Romania (browse online photo archive).

Ioana Oltean is the author of Dacia: Landscape, Colonization and Romanization (Routledge, 2007) and co-editor of Archaeology from Historical Aerial and Satellite Archives (Springer 2013) and of Understanding Roman Frontiers (Birlinn 2015).

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The impact of Roman conquest on native societies

Ioana investigates transformations in social behaviour and identity of both native communities and immigrants visible in Dacia, Lower Moesia and Britain after the Roman conquest. Since 2004 she has led her own British Academy funded research project Contextualizing change on the Lower Danube: Roman impact on Daco-Getic landscapes. Using archaeological GIS data alongside epigraphic and artistic evidence she investigates whether specific trends in settlement, landuse and monumentality occur in Dacia and in Lower Moesia as a result of heavy colonisation supported by Roman political involvement (as traditional interpretations tend to favour) or whether they are a direct reflection of social stress created by migration and cultural contact.  

Between 2011 and 2015 she led the archaeological investigations of the late prehistoric and Romano-British settlement at Ipplepen (South Devon).

Since 2013 she is co-director of the research programme of Colonia Dacica Sarmizegetusa (Romania).

Settlement patterns and GIS

Ioana researches the process of settlement aggregation and evolution, in terms of function and status, as expressed by the organisation of space; architecture; and the position of settlements within the natural and social landscape in the late prehistory and early historical periods. More recently she completed the GIS mapping and analysis of 4500 sq km of the late prehistoric, Hellenistic and Roman landscape of Southern Dobrogea, Romania and collaborated with Dr G Juleff (Exeter) and Dr Sharada Srinivasan (Bangalore) on GIS development for their project "Pioneering metallurgy: the origins of iron and steel making in the Southern Indian subcontinent".

Aerial and satellite remote sensing in archaeology

Ioana investigates large archaeological landscapes based on the analysis of aerial imagery of various types and acquisition dates and from various sources: oblique aerial photographs obtained through archaeological aerial reconnaissance; WWII military vertical photographs of the RAF, USAF and Luftwaffe; Romanian archive vertical aerial photography; and declassified Cold War (CORONA) and recently acquired satellite imagery. Since 1998, she has been involved in establishing aerial reconnaissance in Romania as a standard method of archaeological prospection (see web resource) in collaboration with Prof. W.S. Hanson (University of Glasgow). 

She collaborates with, and advises on aerial and satellite remote sensing aspects a number of research projects and institutions in the UK, Romania, India and the USA. Between 2010-2015 Ioana was part of Archaeolanscapes Europe network funded by EU (FP7) and is currently the institutional contact person for ArcLand International network.

Research collaborations

Since 1998 Prof. Ioana Oltean undertakes aerial reconnaissance in Romania . Ioana is part of ArcLand International network (formerly Archaeolanscapes Europe network funded between 2010-2015 by EU).

Between 2011-2015 Ioana was the leader of the Ipplepen Archaeological Project. A collaboration with British MuseumPortable Antiquities Scheme and Devon County Council Historic Environment Office, this project included a summer archaeological field school and provided extensive opportunities for volunteering and wider dissemination for the local community and beyond.

 Since 2013 Ioana is co-directing the archaeological investigations at Colonia Dacica Sarmizegetusa (Romania).Currently investigations focus on the palace of the financial procurator of Dacia and include summer school opportunities for advanced student training as part of the Erasmus+ project From Theory to Practice - International Teaching in Field Archaeology in Roman Sarmizegetusa (FIT in Archaeology). This is a collaboration with The National Museum of Transylvanian History (Cluj Napoca, Romania), Babes-Bolyai University (Cluj Napoca, Romania), Heidelberg University (Germany) and University of Vienna (Austria).

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Prof. Ioana Oltean supervises research students in the following areas:

  • the archaeology of the Roman Empire
  • late Iron Age archaeology
  • settlement patterns
  • GIS
  • archaeological remote sensing

Research students

Current students:

Jamie Bone - Religious community and Construction in the Roman Province of Dacia 

Rosalyn Knight - Unearthing a piece of lost history on Restormel Estate

Dragos Mitrofan - Hybridisation and inequality in Late Antiquity. A meta-analysis of the lyme, gypsum and chalk deposits in Roman burial contexts

Adrián Mauricio Oyaneder Rodriguez: Pre-Hispanic landscape of the Camarones River Valley: the study of a longterm human occupation

Kathryn Bonnet: The Kandyan and Kerala blacksmiths: an assessment of repertoire and skills using archaeological fieldwork, ethnometallurgy. microstructural analysis and experimental reenactment

Past students:

Henry Bishop-Wright: Meroitic connectivity: the nature and extent of material interactions across Meroe's northern frontier between 30BCE and 298 CE

Joshua Bryant: An Empire Made Safe: the Roles of the Late Antique Roman Fortified Structures in the Eastern Frontier Region

Jonas Gregorio de Souza: Pathways to power in the southern Brazilian highlands: architectural diversity, function and change in Taquara/Itarare ceremonial centres

Richard Sandover - Mapping Devonshire at Domesday

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Copyright Notice: Any articles made available for download are for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the copyright holder.

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  • Oyaneder Rodriguez A. (2022) No masters, no crops: A long-term archaeological and satellite imagery study of forager societies in the Camarones Basin (Northern Chile), ca 3700 – 400 BP.



  • Oltean I, Fonte J. (2019) Microtopographies of Dacian upland settlement strategies and community aggregation trends in the Orăştie Mountains, Romania, Rural Settlement Relating Buildings, Landscape, and People in the European Iron Age, Sidestone Press, 251-261. [PDF]


  • Oltean IA, Fonte J. (2018) The road to be taken: a GIS-based analysis of the spatial and networking patterns pertaining to the Roman conquest of Sarmizegetusa Regia, Dacia, LIMES XXIIII. 24th International Limes Congress, Serbia,, Viminacium, 1st - 10th Sep 2018, PROCEEDINGS OF THE XXIIII LIMES CONGRESS, pages xxx-xxx.



  • Oltean IA. (2015) Being Roman, locally, Journal of Roman Archaeology, volume 25, pages 776-780, DOI:10.1017/s1047759400001768.
  • Oltean IA, Hanson WS. (2015) Defining the Roman Limes in Romania: The Contribution of Aerial and Satellite Remote Sensing, Limes XXII - 22nd Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, Ruse, Bulgaria, 1st - 1st Sep 2012, Limes XXII. Proceedings of the 22nd Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, Ruse, Bulgaria, September 2012, pages 889-899.
  • Oltean IA. (2015) Understanding Roman Frontiers, Birlinn.




  • Oltean IA, Abell LL. (2012) High-resolution satellite imagery and the detection of buried archaeological features in ploughed landscapes, Satellite Remote Sensing: A New Tool for Archaeology, Springer, 291-305. [PDF]


  • Oltean IA. (2009) Dacian ethnic identity and the Roman Army, The army and frontiers of Rome, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series, 90-101. [PDF]


  • Oltean IA, Abell LL. (2008) Space-borne archaeology: reconstructing ancient landscapes and detecting subterranean construction features in Southern Dobrogea (Romania), 1st International EARSel Workshop, Rome, 30th Sep - 4th Oct 2008, Advances on Remote Sensing for Archaeology, pages 373-377.


  • Oltean IA. (2007) Dacia. Landscape, colonisation, Romanisation, Routledge, Routledge. [PDF]
  • Oltean IA, Hanson WS. (2007) Villa settlement in Roman Transylvania, Journal of Roman Archaeology, volume 20, pages 113-137. [PDF]
  • Oltean IA, Hanson WS. (2007) Reconstructing the archaeological landscape of Southern Dobrogea: Integrating imagery, Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, volume 6749, DOI:10.1117/12.737836.
  • Oltean IA, Hanson WS. (2007) Cropmark formation on “difficult” soils in Romania, Populating clay landscapes, Tempus, 73-87.


  • Oltean IA, Radeanu V, Hanson WS. (2005) New discoveries in the military vicus of the auxiliary fort at Micia, The XIXth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, Pecs, 1st - 8th Sep 2003, Limes XIX. Proceedings of the XIXth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, pages 351-356. [PDF]


  • Oltean IA. (2004) Oltean, I.A. 2004 Rural settlement in Roman Dacia: some considerations, Roman Dacia: The Making of a Provincial Society, Journal of Roman Archaeology, 143-164. [PDF]


  • Hanson WS, Oltean IA. (2003) The identification of Roman buildings from the air: recent discoveries in Western Transylvania,, Archaeological Prospection, volume 10, pages 101-117.


  • Hanson WS, Oltean IA. (2002) Recent aerial survey in Western Transylvania: problems and potential, AERIAL ARCHAEOLOGY: DEVELOPING FUTURE PRACTICE, volume 337, pages 109-115. [PDF]
  • Oltean IA. (2002) The use of satellite imagery for the transcription of oblique aerial photographs, AERIAL ARCHAEOLOGY: DEVELOPING FUTURE PRACTICE, volume 337, pages 224-232. [PDF]


  • Oltean IA, Hanson WS. (2001) Oltean, I. A. and W. S. Hanson 2001 Military vici in Roman Dacia: an aerial perspective, Acta Musei Napocesis, volume 38, pages 123-134. [PDF]

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Ioana Oltean gained her Bachelor’s (Licenta) and Master’s degrees in history and archaeology at the Babes-Bolyai University ( Cluj Napoca, Romania). In 2004 she obtained her PhD in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, where she subsequently became a British Academy Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (2004-2007). She joined University of Exeter in September 2007.

She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (2010) and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (2009);  member of the Aerial Archaeology Research Group (1998) and of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (2002). She is a regular contributor to the International Congresses of Roman Frontier Studies;  Roman Archaeology Conferences and the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conferences. She has been the chair of the Working Party on Teaching Aerial Archaeology of the European Archaeological Council and the Aerial Archaeological Research Group (2007-2009). She was a member of the General Management Board of the EU-funded ArchaeoLandscapes Europe project (2010-15) and was a panel assessor for Newton International Fellowships  of the British Academy and Royal Society (2008-2010). She advises the National History Museum of Transylvania and the Ministry of Culture in Romania on the application of remote sensing to the management and research of the Dacian Citadels of Orastie Mountains World Heritage Site and for the preparation of nomination for that status of the Roman frontier in Romania. She collaborated with the BBC 1 for the making of the documentary Rome's Lost Empire (2012).

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