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Dr Matthew Cobb BA, MA, PhD
Lecturer in Classics
Tel: +44 (0) 1570 424806
- Programme Manager for BA Ancient History, BA Ancient History and Archaeology, and BA Ancient Civilisations
I am a researcher and lecturer with interests in cultural and economic relationships between the Graeco-Roman Mediterranean and the wider Indian Ocean world. My research focuses on a range of interrelated themes, including cross-cultural exchange, diaspora, Graeco-Roman conceptions of the East, and the consumption of Indian Ocean goods within Roman society. I have also engaged in debates on the theoretical utility of concepts linked to globalization and glocalization and their application to the study of the ancient world.
I obtained my PhD from Swansea University and have since that time published a number of books, edited chapters and articles. Notable works include the monograph Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade: From Augustus to the Early Third Century CE (2018) and the edited books: The Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity: Political, Cultural and Economic Impacts (2019); and Globalization and Transculturality from Antiquity to the Pre-Modern World (2022).
In addition to research supervision (MRes, MPhil and PhD), I have lectured on a wide range of campus based and distance learning modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. While primarily a Roman historian, I have taught on a variety of historical, literary, archaeological and social themes centred on the Ancient world. The modules taught on include the following:
Undergraduate Modules (modules currently taught, or taught in previous years):
- From Village to Empire (first year survey course of Roman political and military history, including the Republican, Imperial and Late Antique periods)
- Everyday Life in Athens and Rome (first year – Roman and Athenian social history module)
- Literature and Culture in the Reign of Nero (second/third year – literary, cultural and biographical history of the reign of Nero).
- The Life and Times of Caesar and Cicero (second/third year module – historical, biographical and cultural themes linked to the Late Republic).
- Macedon and the Macedonians (second/third year module – focusing on the Hellenistic world)
- Classics Project (second year – independent, but supported, study project/proto-dissertation)
- Regional Archaeology and History – fieldtrip module (second/third module – organised and ran a fieldtrip to Sicily – spring 2017; and to Provence – spring 2019).
- City of Rome (third year – historical and social history, art history, and material culture).
- West meets East: At the Borders of the Oikoumene and Beyond (second/third year – social, religious, political, military and economic history and material culture – interaction of the Graeco-Roman world with India, Central Asia, East Africa, Southern Arabia and the Far East).
Postgraduate modules (modules currently taught, or taught in previous years):
- Julius Caesar and his Times (late Republican history with a biographic focus on Caesar)
- Writing History in the Ancient World: Between Narrative and Interpretation (Greek and Roman historiography)
- Life in the Eastern Desert of Egypt (political, religious, social, military and economic history and material culture)
- Rome and the Indian Ocean: The Classical World in a Global Context (political, religious, social, military and economic history and material culture)
- Theory and Methodology for the Study of Classics
- Aspects of Greek and Roman Religion and Cult
- Advanced Greek (texts including Herodotus’ Histories, Xenophon’s Anabasis, and selections of speeches from the corpus of Lysias)
- Intermediate Greek (advanced grammar and translating un-adapted Greek texts – e.g. Lysias and Lucian’s True History)
My research examines the cultural and economic interaction between the Mediterranean and Indian spheres. In particular, I am interested in the Indian Ocean as a conduit for trade and exchange between West and East, focusing on the Augustan period up to the third century AD.
This research encompasses a number of areas including economic issues relating to the cost, conduct, and operations of the trade; cultural and social issues concerning the identity and status of the merchants and the creation of diaspora and temporary merchant communities in foreign lands; as well as examining the social and economic impact of this trade on the elite at Rome, particularly the consumption of eastern goods.
Among my public engagement activities, I was a guest contributor to an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Making History Programme. This was an episode on Food which originally aired at 15:30 on Tuesday 7th of January, 2020. While in 2017, I appeared as an expert contributor in episode 6 of the second season of Finding Jesus: Fact, Faith, Forgery. The episode is entitled ‘Doubting Thomas’. This aired on CNN in America in the spring of 2017. I was consulted for my knowledge of Indian Ocean trade in the first century CE.
I have been involved in outreach initiatives designed to facilitate access to classics and ancient history in the wider community. These activities include participating in the South West Wales Reaching Wider Partnership programmes which is designed to get local school children interested in HE, as well as the Swansea University / South West Wales Classical Association / Iris Project ‘Latin in the Park’ project.
- Cobb, M. A. 2018: Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade: From Augustus to the Early Third Century CE. Leiden: Brill.
- Autiero, S. and M. A. Cobb (eds.), 2022: Globalization and Transculturality from Antiquity to the Pre-Modern World. London and New York: Routledge.
- Cobb, M. A. (ed.), 2019: The Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity: Political, Cultural and Economic Impacts. London and New York: Routledge.
Journal articles and chapters in edited books
- Cobb, M. A. 2022 ‘World-Systems Theory, Globalization or Glocalization? Analysing the Dynamics of the Ancient Indian Ocean Ivory Trade’, Topoi. Orient - Occident Supplément 18: 169–97.
- Cobb, M. A. 2022: ‘Black Pepper Consumption and the Middling in Roman Society: Affordability, Availability and Status’, in Pierre Schneider and Jean Trinquier (eds.), Le poivre, fragments d'histoire globale : Circulations et consommations, de l'Antiquité à l'époque modern, Paris: Hermann, pp. 71–92.
- Cobb, M. A. and Wilkinson, T: 2022. ‘The Roman state and Red Sea trade revenue’ in Caroline Durand, Julie Marchand, Bérangère Redon and Pierre Schneider (eds.), Networked spaces: the spatiality of networks in the Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean, Archéologie(s) 8, MOM Éditions, Lyon, pp. 213–226.
- Cobb, M. A. 2022: ‘From Bronzization to “world system”: Globalization and Glocalization across the Globe (2000 BCE-1500 CE)’, in V. Roudometof and U. Dessi (eds.), Handbook of Culture and Glocalization. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp 28–44.
- Cobb, M. A. 2022: ‘Mediterranean goods in an Indian context: the use of transcultural theory for the study of the ancient Indian Ocean world’, in S. Autiero and M. A. Cobb (eds.), Globalization and Transculturality from Antiquity to the Pre-Modern World. London: Routledge, pp. 165–182.
- Autiero, S. and M. A. Cobb, 2022: ‘Introduction: utilizing globalization and transculturality for the study of the pre-modern world’, in S. Autiero and M. A. Cobb (eds.), Globalization and Transculturality from Antiquity to the Pre-Modern World. London: Routledge, pp. 1–15.
- Cobb, M. A. 2021: ‘"Barbarians" and Blemmyes: Who Was in Control of the Red Sea Port of Berenike in the Late Antique Period?’, Journal of Late Antiquity 14 (2): 267–293.
- Cobb, M. A. 2021: ‘Conceptualising the Far West: Early Chinese Notions of Da Qin and the Indian Ocean Trade’, in Himanshu Prabha Ray (ed.), The Archaeology of Knowledge Traditions of the Indian Ocean World. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 56–78.
- Cobb, M. A. 2020: ‘Palmyrene Merchants and the Red Sea Trade’, in Michael Sommer (ed.), Inter duo Imperia: Palmyra between East and West. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, pp. 65–83.
- Cobb, M. A. 2019: ‘Peoples of the Eastern Desert of Egypt and their impact on the Red Sea trade (first to third centuries CE)’, Ancient West & East 18: 85–112.
- Cobb, M. A. and Mitchell, F. 2019: ‘Eros at Junnar: Reconsidering a Piece of Graeco-Roman Art’, Greece & Rome 66 (2): 203–226.
- Cobb, M. A. 2019. ‘Introduction: The Indian Ocean in Antiquity and Global History’, in Cobb, M. A. (ed.), 2019: The Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity: Political, Cultural and Economic Impacts, pp. 1–14.
- Cobb, M. A. 2019: ‘From the Ptolemies to Augustus: Mediterranean integration into the Indian Ocean Trade’, in Cobb, M. A. (ed.), The Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity: Political, Cultural and Economic Impacts, pp. 17–51.
- Cobb, M. A. 2018: ‘Black Pepper Consumption in the Roman Empire’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 61 (4): 519–559.
- Cobb, M. A. 2016: ‘The Decline of Ptolemaic Elephant Hunting: An Analysis of the Contributory Factors’ Greece & Rome 63 (2): 192–204.
- Cobb, M. A. 2015: ‘The Chronology of Roman Trade in the Indian Ocean from Augustus to Early Third Century AD’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 58 (3): 362–418.
- Cobb, M. A. 2015: ‘Balancing the Trade: Roman Cargo Shipments to India’, Oxford Journal of Archaeology 34 (2): 185–203.
- Cobb, M. A. 2014: ‘The Exchange of Goods from Italy to India during the Early Roman Empire: The Range of Travelling Times’, Ancient West & East 13: 89–116.
- Cobb, M. A. 2013: ‘The Reception and Consumption of Eastern Goods in Roman Society’, Greece & Rome 60 (1): 136–52.
Articles for a popular/wider audience
- Michel, R., A. Karenowska, G. Altshuler and M. A. Cobb, 2020. ‘A Vexed Pharmacopeia: Musings on Two Thousand Years of Scholarship Regarding the Ancient Spice Trade’, Arion 28 (1): 1-29.
- Cobb, M. A. 2017: ‘India in the Early Greek Imagination’, ARGO: A Hellenic Review 5 (1): 6-8.
- M. Cobb, review of: F. De Romanis, The Indo-Roman Pepper Trade and the Muziris Papyrus, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2020 – Journal of Hellenic Studies – forthcoming.
- M. Cobb, review of: Mairs (R.) (ed.) The Graeco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek World – for The Classical Review, autumn 2021. – forthcoming.
- M. Cobb, review of: Hans Beck and Griet Vankeerberghen (eds), Ruler and Ruled in Ancient Greece, Rome and China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press – Journal of Roman Studies vol. 112, 2022, pp. 308-310.
- M. Cobb, review of: J. M. Schlude, Rome, Parthia and the Politics of Peace: The Origins of War in the Ancient Near East, Routledge, 2020 – Ancient West & East vol. 21, 2022, pp. 471-473.
- M. Cobb, review of: Richard Stoneman, The Greek Experience of India: From Alexander to the Indo-Greek, Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2019 – Ancient West & East vol. 20, 2021, pp. 464-466.
- M. Cobb, review of: P. Beaujard, The Worlds of The Indian Ocean: A Global History (volumes I and II), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2019 – Topoi. Orient - Occident vol. 23 (2), 2020, pp. 611-617.
- M. Cobb, review of: Astrid Van Oyen and Martin Pitts (eds.), Materialising Roman Histories, Oxbow books, Oxford and Philadelphia 2017 – Ancient West & East vol. 19, 2020, pp. 484-486.
- M. Cobb, review of: K. G. Evers, Worlds Apart Trading Together: The Organisation of Long-Distance Trade between Rome and India in Antiquity, Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 32, Archaeopress, Oxford 2017 – Ancient West & East vol. 18, 2019, pp. 381-383.
- M. Cobb, review of: D. Robin and F. Goddio (eds.), Thonis-Heracleion in Context, Oxford Centre of Maritime Archaeology, 2015. The Mariner's Mirror (2016), pages 469-472.