Daniela Cottica
Classical Archaeology

Let’s talk about you: what is your background, what do you teach, and what are your research interests?
I am a lecturer in Classical Archaeology, teaching the Bachelor's Degree courses in Greek and Roman Architecture and Urbanism; for Master's Degree students I teach Archaeology of Roman Provinces and Archaeology of Production and Consumption. My main areas of research are the interaction between production cycles, consumption and exploitation of natural resources in ancient times and the relation between man and the environment. At the moment I am involved in interdisciplinary archaeological fieldwork and research projects in Aquileia, in the Northern Lagoon of Venice and in Pompeii, while in the past I have been more involved in activities at the borders of the Roman Empire (Britannia, North Africa, East).

What led you to pursue a research career?
My academic career started at Ca' Foscari, where I graduated in Classical Literature with a dissertation in Classical Archaeology and spent my final year as an exchange student in London. After graduating, I won a scholarship for a Master's Degree abroad and then returned to London, to the Institute of Archaeology at University College London (UCL) where I stayed for another three years after winning a British Council scholarship for a PhD in archaeology (Phd). During my time at UCL I worked with a number of British and American institutions active in the East (Turkey, Israel) and North Africa; at the same time I participated every year as an active member of the research of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Hierapolis (Turkey). In 2002 I returned to Ca' Foscari, initially as a researcher in Classical Archaeology.

What are you most passionate about in your research?
What fascinates me about my field of research is the complexity of the modern archaeologist, who has to deal with colleagues and methods from both the humanities and hard sciences: this is the only viable approach to reconstructing those processes that took place in antiquity and then help us tell the micro and macro-stories of the past. The interdisciplinary nature of archaeology makes it possible to take on new challenges, experiment with new investigation methods and tools, search for new details and at the same time facilitate cooperation between different specialists.

What do teaching and researching mean to you?
Today, research in archaeology means handling large quantities of very different data, moving confidently from field to laboratory investigations, from the study of ancient sources to the study of organic waste, for instance: teaching must help develop this kind of approach to archaeology as a science. Thus, teaching should not only provide knowledge but also teach a way of working and thinking. Teachers must encourage complex and systematic thinking, verifying and separating data from its interpretation.

Can you offer any advice to researchers in the early stages of their career?
Research is creative, stimulating and rewarding, but you need to be ready for the challenges it poses, you need a lot of determination and you need to plan your education carefully from your first steps at university, trying to make the most of the opportunities available today, such as the opportunity to spend periods of study at different institutions, diversifying your experiences and taking advantage of cultural exchange programmes.

Last update: 20/07/2023