During my masters programme in Archaeology at the KULeuven, I studied several core aspects of the archaeology of the Greek and Roman world in Italy, Greece and the Mediterranean. My MA thesis in particular concerned the modelling of Roman agricultural exploitation and the study of Roman food processing technologies in Late Roman times. After concluding a complementary MA Film Studies and Image Culture at the University of Antwerp (UA), focusing on the use of documentary film in archaeology, my fascination with Roman food habits and their role in Roman economic dynamics definitively drew my attention to land use in Late Republican and Early Imperial Italy.
In early 2007, I joined the Potenza Valley Survey Project (PVS-project, Ghent University), a geoarchaeological research project conducted by Frank Vermeulen (Ghent University) in central Marche (Italy), that focuses on the Romanization of rural exploitation, the relation between towns and countryside and the diachronic evolution of rural settlement patterns. This project guaranteed a solid structure for the development of a new research initiative on Roman agricultural organisation in Central Adriatic Italy between the Late Republic and the Early Empire. In the following years, I engaged in the obtainment of several scholarships awarded by the Fondazione Jean Jacobs in Bologna, the Academia Belgica and the Belgian Historical Institute in Rome between 2008 and 2010. As one of the main archaeological investigators of the PVS-project, I also participated in several archaeological field campaigns in the Marche between 2007 and 2010.
Ultimately, these efforts led to the obtainment of a doctoral research grant at Pisa University in 2011, which turned into a Joint Doctorate with Ghent University from 2012 onwards. The principal aim of this research project was to create an interpretative framework for evaluating the possible impact of local demographic trends on the evolution of the wine and oil business in central Adriatic Italy between Late Republican and Early/High Imperial times. The main question was hereby whether regional developments in demography and consumption had anything to do with the diminishing exports of wine in amphorae from the Augustan period onwards, as well with the minimal involvement of the area in the Mediterranean oil trade in the entire studied time period. This model was essentially constructed through an in-depth reading of the archaeological evidence regarding wine/oil production and transport; and by positioning the changes in this evidence against a theoretical population/land model inspired by the archeological record. This thesis was completed and defended in December 2015.
As a scientific collaborator of the Department of Archaeology at Ghent University, my current research interests build further on this doctoral work, including aspects of urban and rural demography, agricultural production, consumption, diet and the restraints of environment and space in the pre-industrial, non-mechanised, and thus peasant-based economy that was Roman Italy. For this purpose, I maintain close relationships with teams from the universities of Pisa, Padova and Bologna. Within the framework of the PVS-project, I am also responsible for the co-editing of the project's final book, due for publication in early 2017.