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Personal profile



Ulrike Roth is an Ancient Historian, specialising in the study of slavery, especially Roman. She joined the School of History, Classics and Archaeology in Edinburgh in 2004. Before, she held posts in the University of Wales, Swansea and at King's College London, where she taught both Roman and Greek history. Dr Roth is a historian by training: her alma mater is the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz (Germany), from which she graduated in 1997 with a degree in History, Theology and Pedagogy (‘Staatsexamen’).

After graduating, Dr Roth taught German for three years at sixth-form level at two schools in West Sussex, ran her own restaurant, and completed a PhD in Ancient History in 2004 at the University of Nottingham on the role of enslaved women in Roman agriculture. Following her doctoral studies, Dr Roth has continued to work on slavery, which remains the chief focus of her research. She has also held a number of academic and research management roles at Edinburgh, including REF2014 co-ordinator for Classics (Unit 31), and the headship of Classics, 2011-2015.

From 2009 to 2015, Dr Roth has served on the Standing Committee of the Council of University Classical Departments, and from 2010 to 2022, she has been the Honorary Secretary of the British Epigraphy Society. She has reviewed for a number of journals and publishers, including Classical Quarterly and Oxford University Press, and has peer-reviewed applications for various funding bodies, including the AHRC and the Leverhulme Trust. She has herself had twice funding from the British Academy for her research, and has recently been the recipient of a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for her project on child slavery (2017-2020). Together with Prof. Paul du Plessis from the School of Law, she created in 2012 a research network focused on the study of the interplay between law and society in the ancient world - the Ancient Law in Context Research Network - organising ten meetings of the network in Edinburgh between 2012 and 2019. In 2019, she has launched and since serves as series editor to the Edinburgh Studies in Ancient Slavery, published by EUP.

Research Interests

Dr Roth's research is primarily concerned with the study of slavery, in the ancient, as well as the early medieval world. Beside her current research on child slavery at Rome, Dr Roth's work is more broadly concerned with the question of the nature of slave exploitation in different societies, as well as with how slavery and freedom were conceptualised in antiquity (and after, including how researchers today approach the topic). Dr Roth's research also engages with the question of ancient slavery's relationship to later slaveries and their legacies on the modern world. Beyond slavery, Dr Roth is especially interested in the study of ancient Italy, with particular regard to the non-Roman peoples of Italy - directly linked to the broader question of how to write history from a muted past, which also drives her inquiry into Roman slavery.

Read more on Dr Roth's profile page: 'Research' and 'Projects'.

Research students

Dr Roth's PhD students work primarily on a range of topics within the broader field of ancient slavery studies. Recently completed theses, and doctoral projects in progress, include investigations into sub-ownership structures in Roman slavery, the (so-called) Sicilian slave rebellions, the cultic activities of the enslaved, literary and legal perceptions of enslaved persons in the Roman world, the role of women freed from slavery in Roman society, and the use of 'the Classics' in 19th century pro-slavery literature. Dr Roth also supervises on topics related to the (epigraphic) study of the peoples of ancient (so-called 'pre-Roman') Italy.

Dr Roth welcomes inquiries from potential PhD students who want to work in the areas of her research expertise.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Thesis topic: The Female Slave in Roman Agriculture: Changing the Default, University of Nottingham

Award Date: 8 Jul 2004

Master of Arts, Dissertation topic: Der Prozess Jesu aus rechtshistorischer Sicht, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

Award Date: 17 Jul 1997

External positions

Expert étranger, Société des Professeurs d'Histoire Ancienne de l'Université

2016 → …


  • D051 Ancient History
  • DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
  • DG Italy
  • HC Economic History and Conditions
  • HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
  • HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
  • HT Communities. Classes. Races
  • PA Classical philology
  • AZ History of Scholarship The Humanities