Naseem Raad - 2016 - University of Southampton PhD Scholar

Naseem Raad is a Lebanese archaeologist studying the Roman economy in the eastern Mediterranean. After completing an MA in Maritime Archaeology funded by the HFF, Naseem has been granted a scholarship to expand his study with a PhD at the University of Southampton. In the PhD, he has focused on establishing a systematic method to utilise economic and network analysis to better understand the Roman Levant, specifically its maritime context, and has applied this methodology to the Roman port city of Berytus. This involves tracing the distribution of amphorae produced at the city around the eastern Mediterranean to shed light on the trade of olive oil and wine.

In the first two years of the PhD, Naseem laid the foundation for the proposed study. This entailed first establishing a theoretical base to address the problems in applying modern economic principles to ancient systems, as well as outlining the existing literature on the Roman city of Berytus. A brief assessment of the Roman port was provided, and data was gathered in preparation for subsequent analysis.

In the final year, Naseem is working on processing the data and applying network analysis to the maritime routes observed. At this point in research, it has become clearer where merchants were transporting Beirut olive oil and wine in the eastern Mediterranean. The focus of year 3 is on why these maritime routes were prevalent. This involves a consideration of the political geography of the region, the natural maritime environment, and social and cultural factors in the region. As Berytus was a major trading centre in the Roman Near East, Naseem is focused on specifying which sites were supplied with goods and products from Beirut, the nature of these exchanges, and whether these arrangements changed over time.

Naseem was also involved in maritime archaeological projects in Lebanon in 2018 funded by the HFF. These include the coastal and underwater survey at Dammour and the geomorphological survey at the ‘Phoenician Sea Wall’ of Batroun. In September, he assisted in the NAS field school held in Sidon where students from the Lebanese University learned methodology in archaeological diving.

Figure 2: Map of excavation areas in Beirut with a proposed Roman coastline in yellow

Figure 3: Distribution of the Beirut amphora in the eastern Mediterranean