Thomas Ashby

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thomas Ashby (born October 14, 1874 in Staines , England ; died May 15, 1931 in London ) was a British classical archaeologist . From 1906 to 1925 he was director of the British School at Rome , after having been its second director from 1903 to 1906.


Ashby was the only child of Thomas Ashby and his wife Rosa Emma. His father was part of a well-known Quaker family who ran a brewery in Staines. From 1887 to 1893 he had a scholarship at Winchester College , where he was nicknamed Titus, which he would never get rid of. He then studied on a scholarship at Christ Church College , Oxford . He obtained his first academic degrees in classical moderations in 1895 and in literae humaniores in 1897 . The family had already moved to Rome in 1890 , where the sixteen-year-old Ashby met the archaeologist Rodolfo Lanciani , the best expert on Roman topography. After 1897 he concentrated his studies entirely on Roman antiquity and obtained his Doctor of Letters in 1905 .

In 1902 he became the first student at the British School at Rome, founded in 1901. From 1903 to 1906 Ashby was first Second Director of the British School, from 1906 to 1925 its First Director. During his tenure, he expanded the institute's research to include the entire western Mediterranean. In 1916 the British School moved into a new building on the Valle Giulia as a new domicile. During the First World War , Ashby served as a translator for the British Red Cross, while his deputy Eugénie Strong was in charge of official business . In 1918 he returned to Rome as an education officer, but did not take over the management of the British School again until 1919. In 1921 he married Caroline May. In 1924 the management of the British School decided to let Ashby's contract expire the following year. After leaving office, Ashby drove his Roman research to an end and returned to England in 1930. On May 15, 1931, he died of complications from cancer.


Since foreign researchers were not allowed to excavate in Italy after 1910, Ashby was forced to devote himself to topographical studies. These studies initially focused on the Roman road system before turning to the urban Roman aqueducts . Ashby developed into a specialist in the topography of the city of Rome and incorporated both ancient and modern sources into his work, such as the architectural drawings of Antonio Labacco from the 16th century, Eufrosino della Volpaia's maps of the Campagna from 1547 or the topographical studies of Étienne du Pérac and the Antiquae statuae urbis Romae by Giovanni Battista de'Cavalieri .

In his homeland, Ashby took part in the archaeological study of Caerwent , a Roman city in what is now Wales . From 1901 to 1907 and from 1909 to 1911 he regularly published the results of this research.


Ashby was a member of the Society of Antiquaries of London from 1901 , from 1913 a member of the German Archaeological Institute , from 1914 of the Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia , from 1918 a foreign member of the Reale Accademia dei Lincei , from 1922 an honorary member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and from 1925 from the Real Accademia di San Luca . In 1927 he became a member of the British Academy .

Publications (selection)

  • as editor: Étienne Du Pérac: Topographical Study in Rome in 1581. A Series of Views with a Fragmentary Text (= Roxburghe Club. 172 (i. e. 171), ZDB -ID 1003958-2 ). Nichols and Sons, London 1916, ( digitized version ).
  • The Roman Campagna in classical times. Benn, London 1927.
  • as editors: William J. Anderson, R. Phené Spiers: The Architecture of Ancient Rome. An Account of Its Historic Development (= The Architecture of Greece and Rome. Vol. 2). Revised and rewritten edition by Thomas Ashby. Batsford, London 1927 (first edition London 1902).
  • Scrittori contemporanei di cose romane: R. Lanciani. In: Archivio della R. Società Romana di Storia Patria. Volume 51, 1928, ISSN  0391-6952 , pp. 103-143.
  • as editor: Samuel Ball Platner : A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Completed and revised by Thomas Ashby. Oxford University Press, London 1929.
  • The Aqueducts of Ancient Rome. Edited posthumously by Ian Archibald Richmond . The Clarendon Press, Oxford 1935.


  • Arthur-Hamilton Smith: Thomas Ashby, 1874-1931. In: Proceedings of the British Academy. Volume 17, 1931, pp. 513-541.
  • James C. Anderson: The Thomas Ashby Collection of Roman brick stamps in the American Academy in Rome (= Archaeological monographs of the British School at Rome. 3). British School at Rome, London 1991, ISBN 0-904152-18-9 .
  • Richard Hodges : Visions of Rome. Thomas Ashby, archaeologist. British School at Rome, London 2000, ISBN 0-904152-34-0 .
  • Stephen L. Dyson: Thomas Ashby. In: Robert B. Todd (Ed.): Dictionary of British Classicists. 1500-1960. Volume 1: A - F. Thoemmes Continuum, Bristol 2004, ISBN 1-85506-997-0 , pp. 28-31.

Web links