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"I am an archaeologist who splits time between teaching, lab research on campus, and fieldwork in Italy and Turkey. Currently, I direct excavation of a Roman shipwreck off Sicily that carried marble architectural components for an early church. Working with these and other shipwreck finds helps me, and my team, understand the lives and connections of everyday people in the past alongside broader cultural phenomena and historical developments. Students play a key role in all stages of this and related research on 3D modeling and virtual environments. These projects have recently included the development of new methods for analyzing how ancient transport jars and column capitals were mass produced to standardized shapes and sizes, and the creation of immersive 'pop up' exhibits on Mediterranean maritime history from ancient colonization and commerce to the modern refugee plight."
Justin Leidwanger’s research and fieldwork focus primarily on the role of maritime networks in structuring Roman socioeconomic life. These interests lead him to spend more time in, rather than around, the waters of the Mediterranean, where his fieldwork explores the shipwrecks and ports that provide primary archaeological evidence for the modes and mechanisms of communication and exchange. In 2012, he initiated the Marzamemi Maritime Heritage Project, which combines survey and excavation with maritime heritage education and museum and tourism development at the site of several ancient shipwrecks off southeast Sicily, a focal point of which has been recent excavation of the famous late antique Marzamemi “church wreck”. Since 2011, he has co-directed annual investigations in the Archaic through late Roman harbors of Burgaz, off the Datça peninsula in southwest Turkey, with Elizabeth S. Greene (Brock University) and Numan Tuna (Middle East Technical University). Prior to this, he directed maritime landscape surveys off the coast of Cyprus (2003-2009). Over the past six years, he has been involved in issues of ethical stewardship, responsible management, public involvement, and collaboration in maritime archaeological investigations. On this topic, he has co-authored a number of recent articles and co-organized a series of international workshops and conferences in collaboration with the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, where he is active as a Fellow. In the Classics Department, he teaches courses on Roman archaeology, Greco-Roman architecture and engineering, Mediterranean seafaring and network connectivity, archaeological ethics, and the ancient economy. As faculty at the Stanford Archaeology Center, his lab serves as a research base for field projects as well as a center for pottery analysis (petrography and portable XRF).