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Dr Ruth Westgate

Dr Ruth Westgate

Senior Lecturer in Ancient History and Archaeology, Co-Head of Ancient History and Religion

+44 (0)29 2087 6105
4.10, John Percival Building
Available for postgraduate supervision


Research and teaching interests

  • Greek archaeology and social history
  • Greek and Roman art and architecture
  • Domestic space in classical antiquity
  • Ancient mosaics and painting, especially in the Classical and Hellenistic periods


Education and qualifications

  • 1995 PhD, History of Art, Manchester University (Greek Mosaics of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods)
  • 1988 BA Classics, Clare College, Cambridge

Career overview

  • 2013–present Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Ancient History, Cardiff University
  • 2004–2013 Lecturer in Archaeology and Ancient History, Cardiff University
  • 1998–2004 Research Fellow/Lecturer in Archaeology and Ancient History, Cardiff University
  • 1996 Associate Lecturer, Classics Department, King's College London
  • 1993–1995 Macmillan-Rodewald Student, British School at Athens
  • 1992–1993 School Student, British School at Athens

Notable achievements

  • 2017 Cardiff University Research Leave Fellowship
  • 2008 Leverhulme Research Fellowship for work on a monograph on Greek mosaics.
  • 2001 Lead organiser of the conference 'Building Communities: House, Settlement and Society in the Aegean and Beyond'.

Professional memberships

Speaking engagements

Selected conference presentations

  • 2014: Detecting Inequality in Classical–Hellenistic Houses. Inequality in Antiquity: Tracing the Archaeological Record, Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology, State University of New York at Buffalo.
  • 2013: The Mosaicists' Customers: Who were they, and what did they want? Production in Pieces: Making Mosaics from Antiquity to the Present, King's College London.
  • 2011: Party Animals: The Imagery of Status, Power and Masculinity in Greek Mosaics. Inaugural Address, UCD Classical Society, Dublin.
  • 2010: Hellenistic Mosaics and the Display of Cult Statues. Classical Association Annual Conference, Cardiff.
  • 2008: Party Animals: The Imagery of Status, Power and Masculinity in Greek Mosaics. Association for the Study and Preservation of Roman Mosaics, 59th Symposium on Ancient Mosaics, London.
  • 2008: Making Yourself at Home in the Hellenistic World. Belonging and Isolation in the Hellenistic World', University of Waterloo, Ontario.
  • 2008: Carpets in Stone? Greek Mosaics and Oriental Textiles in the Classical-Hellenistic Periods. Fabulous Stuff: The Impact of Near Eastern Textiles on Europe, Exeter University.
  • 2007: Interior Decoration in Hellenistic Houses: Context, Function and Meaning. Keynote lecture, Urban Living in the Eastern Mediterranean, Fourth Century B.C. to First Century A.D., Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna.
  • 2005: House Form and Social Structure in Classical and Hellenistic Crete. STEGA: The Archaeology of Houses and Households in Ancient Crete from the Neolithic Period through the Roman Era, Ierapetra, Crete.
  • 2001: Greek Mosaics in the Black Sea Region. Olbia and the Ancient World, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kiev.



  • Westgate, R. 2021. Housing and inequality in ancient Greece. In: Cerasuolo, O. ed. Inequality in Antiquity. The Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology Distinguished Monograph Series Vol. 7. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press


  • Westgate, R. 2019. Household organization. In: Pache, C. ed. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Homer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press







  • Westgate, R. C. 2010. Interior decoration in Hellenistic houses: context, function and meaning. In: Ladstätter, S. and Scheibelreiter, V. eds. Städtisches Wohnen im östlichen Mittelmeerraum, 4. Jh. v. Chr. – 1. Jh. n. Chr.: Akten des Internationalen Kolloquiums vom 24.–27. Oktober 2007 an der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Archäologische Forschungen Vol. 18. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences, pp. 497-528.



  • Westgate, R. C. 2002. Hellenistic mosaics. In: Ogden, D. ed. The Hellenistic World: New Perspectives. Swansea/ London: Classical Press of Wales and Duckworth, pp. 221-251.






  • Investigating the Ancient World: Skills and Evidence
  • The Ancient World in 20 Objects
  • Art and Archaeology of Archaic Greece
  • Art and Archaeology of Classical Greece
  • Hellenistic Art and Architecture
  • At Home with the Romans: Domestic Space and Society
  • Pots, Poems and Pictures: Using Evidence for Ancient History


  • Themes and Approaches in Ancient History
  • Themes in Classical Archaeology
  • Special Topic: Domestic Space in Classical Antiquity
  • Approaches to Ancient Art

My research is primarily concerned with the architecture and decoration of Greek and Roman houses, and the relationship between houses and the society, politics and economy of the ancient world.

Domestic space in Archaic–Hellenistic Greece

This aspect of my research examines the relationship between domestic space and socio-political organisation in the Greek world, exploring the ways in which the development of social and political complexity in the Aegean was played out in the architecture of houses, and looking at how social roles and status distinctions within and between households shaped the architecture and decoration of houses. I am particularly interested in how the institution of slavery shaped the form and use of Greek houses, and in the problem of how we can use the archaeological remains of ancient houses to understand slavery and other forms of inequality.

Another strand of this research focuses on Classical and Hellenistic houses in Crete, which are strikingly different in their form and appearance from the courtyard houses found elsewhere in the period. The differences may be related to a different form of social organisation on Crete, which is attested by the literary sources; the austere, backward-looking appearance and furnishings of Cretan houses in this period suggest a desire to suppress or deny social change.

Mosaics of the Classical and Hellenistic periods

I am working on a monograph about decorated mosaics in the Mediterranean world from the fifth century to the early first century BC, covering pavements of pebbles, tesserae, stone chips and various combinations of materials. This will be the first comprehensive study of early mosaics since the 1930s, ranging from the pebble mosaics of the Classical period to the late Hellenistic pavements of Delos and Pompeii, and including a corpus of decorated mosaics which will enable scholars to get a reliable overview of this material for the first time. The book will survey the techniques, materials and design of the mosaics, and will re-evaluate the prevailing models of their stylistic and technical development, considering each pavement in its architectural and regional context. But it also goes beyond conventional art-historical concerns to explore the changing ways in which mosaics and other decoration were used to structure the space in houses, and thus to gain insights into social and economic trends in the Classical and Hellenistic periods.


Areas supervised

I would be interested in supervising PhD projects on:

  • Greek and Roman houses and households
  • Ancient mosaics and painting
  • Greek and Roman art and architecture, especially from the Classical, Hellenistic and early Imperial periods
  • Greek archaeology and social history

Current PhD students

  • Karen Gregory, Mapping Mosaics in Fourth-Century Roman Britain: Regional Patterns and Elite Networks; co-supervisor with Martin Pitts (Exeter University)
  • Alexia Miltiadous-Johansson, Houses and Households in Hellenistic–Roman Crete and Cyprus; co-supervisor with James Whitley
  • Vasiliki Kontogianni, Hydrophobic Coatings and Organic Additives in Hellenistic–Roman Mortars: The Case Study of Crete; third supervisor with David Watkinson and Nicola Emmerson

Past projects

  • Janett Morgan, Domestic Cult in Classical Greece (awarded 2005); co-supervisor
  • Mark Woolmer, The Role and Status of Maritime Traders in Classical Athens (awarded 2009); second supervisor
  • Nadia Randle, Triumphabant Aeternae Domus: Motifs of Arms in Roman Domestic Decoration (awarded 2015); co-supervisor