Dr Tracey Rihll

About Me

Tracey Rihll taught at Leeds and Lampeter before Swansea, where she moved in 1990. She serves on the Council of the Hellenic Society, the editorial advisory board of Vulcan: The Journal of the Social and Cultural History of Military Technology (Brill), and is co-editor of Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science (Institute for Research in Classical Philosophy and Science, Princeton). She received an Onassis Foreigner's Fellowship in 2010-2011, and a Swansea University Distinguished Teaching Award in 2012.

She has long specialized in the history of ancient science and technology, and more recently has been extending into the area of science and technology studies more generally. She also continues to work on slavery, and the social, economic and political history of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.


  1. Depreciation in Vitruvius. Classical Quarterly 63(2), 893-897. doi:10.1017/S0009838813000384
  2. Technology and Society in the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds. Washington DC: The American Historical Association and the Society for the History of technology.
  3. & Phatic Technologies. Technology in Society 33, 44-51.
  4. Greek science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. (Ed.). Science and mathematics in ancient Greek culture. C.J.Tuplin and T.E.Rihll (Ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press.

See more...


  • CLD300 Classics, Ancient History, Egyptology Dissertation

    Dissertation module for students doing single honours or joint honours degrees in Classics, Classical Civilisation, Ancient History or Egyptology. The aim is for students to do detailed research, to work on a project for several months and to produce a scholarly study of c. 8000-10000 words. The dissertation topic can be chosen freely, in consultation with a member of academic staff and subject to compatibility with a student's degree scheme and availablilty of supervisors and library material.This is a chance for students to pursue an area in which they are especially interested, and to deal with it in depth. Students may choose to do museum-based research. There are two preparatory pieces of assessment: an abstract, outline and bibliography, and an analysis of crucial source material and/or secondary literature. Work on the dissertation itself takes up most of the two semesters. Students are expected to do research independently, but there is a series of lectures in the first semester to provide advice on research and scholarly writing, Every student will be assigned a supervisor who will be organising group sessions with his/her supervisees and who will also be available for one-to-one supervision sessions.

  • CLE334 Alexandria. Multicultural Metropolis of the Ancient World

    In 331 BC, shortly after Alexander’s conquest of Egypt, Alexandria was founded. In the next decade or so it replaced Memphis as the new the capital of the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt. It soon dominated the eastern Mediterranean world politically, culturally, and economically for more than six hundred years. Being predominantly a Greek city, it rapidly turned into the focal point of science, philosophy, and poetry in the Hellenistic and Roman world, a counter-weight both to ancient Egyptian culture and science and to other Greek centres of learning such as Athens. The module will examine how this remarkable and rapid success was accomplished. On the other hand, the Egyptians formed a great majority of the population, alongside the influential minority of Greeks and other foreign groups such as the Jews. The Egyptian influence on cult buildings, the royal quarters, the necropoleis, the statuary, etc. will be traced and discussed. This module examines in a cross-disciplinary approach the nature of a multicultural city and society as well as the impact of the Hellenistic and Roman contact with the native Egyptian culture. The module is thus of interest for students in Egyptology, Ancient History, and Classical Civilisation.

  • CLH111 Classical Athens

    No place in classical Greece is better known than Athens: one of the larger cities of the Greek world, yet still but one of many, it controlled a significant part of the Aegean and styled itself the “School of Greece". Classical Athens produced an impressive range of art and literature, and pioneered a political culture which had a lasting impact on modern political thinking. This city was home to an impressive number of larger-than-life characters, politicians, writers, artists, philosophers, and, last but not least, the Athenian people as a whole. At the same time, this particular city-state left us a legacy which allows us many detailed insight into the workings of ancient Greek society.

  • CLH284 Writing Ancient History

    This module examines the writing and study of ancient history. It considers the range of available evidence (historical sources, epigraphy, biography, archaeology, numismatics) as well as modern approaches to the interpretation of the evidence.

  • CLH292 History of Ancient Technology and Engineering

    This module explores the material world of Greece and Rome. The design, construction or production of the structures and objects with which the ancients furnished their world is the subject of study.

  • HIH260 From Athens to Los Alamos: Science in the Ancient & Modern Worlds

    While developments in science and scientific medicine have played a key part in the shaping the modern world, the contrast between twenty-first century knowledge and the knowledge of our ancestors can make it easy to overlook continuities in the study of nature over the centuries. So too can the image of science as, in some sense, an apolitical enterprise divorced from its social and cultural settings. This module will take a long view of the development of western science, beginning in the ancient world and ending in the twentieth century. It will study scientific institutions, theories, and methods, and demonstrate how these - along with the reasons for studying nature - have changed over time and have both shaped and been shaped by society and culture. As part of the attempt to understand the significance of the changing scientific enterprise to the history of western civilization, it will address the question of what constitutes science and consider debates about when it came into being.

  • HIH3318 Invention, innovation and technological revolutions

    Why do people talk about technological ‘revolutions’? Is life really so different before and after such a revolution? For whom? Is technological change the major factor in historical change? Or is the impact more limited? To explore these questions, this course will focus on four key historical transitions commonly called ‘revolutions’: the secondary products revolution (the acquisition and use of products that are obtained from living animals, e.g. wool, milk), the engineering revolution (the development of infrastructure and construction by the Romans e.g. aqueducts, roads, concrete); the industrial revolution (what do we mean by that actually?), and the electrical revolution (power at the flick of a switch). These topics are studied through a mix of reading, illustrated lectures, class discussions, and short debates.

  • HIH3319 A History of Violence

    Violence has played a key role in European and world history. This module will explore how cultures of violence have developed from antiquity to modernity. Beginning with Ancient Greece and ending in the twentieth century, this module will chart the changing practice of violence. It will examine how attitudes towards the practice and representation of violence have changed over centuries. Students will explore different aspects of violence, including state sponsored and interpersonal forms. Topics will include warfare, ritual violence such as the dual, criminal violence and state violence, such as judicial torture and executions. A particular theme of the module will be the increasing state monopolization of violence. Students will be introduced to the theoretical literature on organized and individual violence and be challenged to draw comparisons from different epochs. The course questions whether, as has recently been argued, humanity is becoming less violent.

  • HIP300 The Classical Tradition in the Sciences

    While developments in science and scientific medicine have played a key part in shaping the modern world, the contrast between twenty-first century knowledge and the knowledge of our ancestors can make it easy to overlook continuities in the study of nature over the centuries and the rationality of other forms of the scientific enterprise. So too can the image of science as, in some sense, an apolitical activity divorced from its social and cultural settings. This module will study scientific institutions, theories, and methods in Antiquity and demonstrate how these - along with the reasons for studying nature – both shaped and were shaped by society and culture.


  • 'South Wales in the Iron Age and Roman Periods.' (awarded 2012)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Edwin Owens
  • 'The Development of Ancient Siege Warfare 431BC-31BC' (awarded 2012)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Edwin Owens
  • ''The Battlefield Role of the Classical Greek General (awarded 2012)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Maria Pretzler
  • The use and development of light and heavy infantry in ancient Greece from the battle of Marathon to the battle of Mantinea (awarded 2006)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr David Gill