School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Liz Shaw

Liz Shaw

Best foot forward: Footwear, identity and status in the North-Western provinces of the Roman Empire


James Gerrard, Ian Haynes

Year started


Project outline

The foot is not a very ornamental body part, associated as it is with dirt, sweat and odour, so it would seem an odd choice for decorative objects. However, during the Roman period many artefacts were produced in the shape of feet wearing shoes: lamps, oil flasks for taking to the baths, sandal fibulae and even copper alloy stamps. I am researching what might have prompted the choice of this subject, and what we might learn from shoe-shaped Roman artefacts about the identity, status and beliefs of the people who owned them. Researching this area could be important because material culture plays an active role in structuring individual and group identity and the choice and selection of particular objects can play an important part in the creation of social differentiation. This research follows on from my current MA dissertation which compared the accuracy of artistic representations of Roman footwear with the archaeological record.

Presentations and conferences

I have submitted an abstract to present at TRAC 19 in Canterbury next year.

Academic qualifications

BA in French and German (joint honours)
BA in History (first)
MA in Classical Studies