Dr Charlotte Potts

Academic Background

I joined Oxford as the Sybille Haynes lecturer after an enjoyable career as a content developer for museum exhibitions and visitor attractions in New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the United Kingdom, between degrees from Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), University College London, and the University of Oxford. These experiences have given me special interest in the stories we tell about the past through its material culture.

Research Interests

My research focuses on analysing the architecture of pre-Roman central Italy in light of modern excavations and theoretical developments. In my 2015 monograph and a series of articles I have explored some of the aesthetic and technical elements of ancient buildings, and will turn next to social experience by examining the evidence for personal connections between people and architecture in Italy between 900 and 400 BC. Under the working title of Building Society: The Anthropology of Architecture in Early Italy, this study will explore the ways in which people interacted with architecture beyond everyday use. Votive deposits associated with the construction and obliteration of buildings show religious concern; miniature architectural models in sanctuaries became ways of communicating with the divine, as did temples; images of buildings were placed on tomb markers in place of texts, and bodies were laid to rest in cinerary urns and chamber tombs that imitated real houses. These signs of intellectual and emotional engagement with the built environment suggest that people in early Italy conceived of their world in architectural terms and used buildings to express their place in it. Like my previous work, this study will explore continuities and contrasts with Roman material culture and thus set these aspects of pre-Roman and Roman archaeology into broader chronological and cultural frameworks.

Research Keywords

Archaic Italy; Etruscan archaeology; Roman art and architecture; museum studies.


My teaching likewise spans pre-Roman and Roman material. I teach papers on the archaeology of Italy between the Iron Age and end of the Roman Empire, and have special interests in Roman art and the archaeology of religion.

  • Etruria (Italy), c. 900-300 BCE

  • Made in Etruria: Recontextualizing the ramo secco

  • Vitruvius and Etruscan Design

  • Religious Architecture in Latium and Etruria, c. 900-500 BC

  • The Development and Architectural Significance of Early Etrusco-Italic Podia

  • More