Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Roland Steinacher


Roland Steinacher

Institut für Alte Geschichte und Altorientalistik
Universität Innsbruck – Ágnes-Heller-Haus
Innrain 52a
6020 Innsbruck, Austria
room 05G040 (5th floor)

tel.: +43 512 507-41007
e-mail: Roland.Steinacher@uibk.ac.at

office hours: on appointment


Curriculum vitae »

  • 1991–1997 Studies of Ancient History (elective courses: Classical Archaeology / Protohistory and Early Medieval Archaeology), History and German Philology. M.A. (Mag. phil.) diploma thesis, “Die Genese von Artemis und Athene. Eine Untersuchung zum Werden der griechischen Religion vor dem Hintergrund der historischen Verhältnisse von Bronzezeit und Archaik”, supervised by Günther Lorenz.
  • 1998–2002 Doctoral program at the University of Vienna / Post-graduate licentiate at the “Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung” (Institute of Austrian Historical Research). 
  • 2001 Member of the “Institut für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung”; MAS (Master of Advanced Studies, Historical Research and Archival Science) master thesis “Der Laterculus Regum VVandalorum et Alanorum. Eine afrikanische Ergänzung der Chronik Prosper Tiros aus dem 6. Jahrhundert” (= The so called Laterculus Regnum VVandalorum et Alanorum. A Sixth-century African addition to Prosper Tiro’s chronicle?). 
  • 2002 Ph. D. (Dr.phil.), dissertation “Studien zur vandalischen Geschichte. Die Gleichsetzung der Ethnonyme Wenden, Slawen und Vandalen vom Mittelalter bis ins 18. Jahrhundert” (= The identification of the ethnonyms Wenden, Slaws and Vandali from early medieval sources to the 18th century), dissertation committee: Alfred Kohler, Herwig Wolfram, Walter Pohl.
  • 2002–2005 Research Assistant at the Institute for Medieval Research (IMAFO) – Austrian Academy of Sciences (FWF project supervised by Walter Pohl). 
  • 2006 Coordination of a research project on “Grundlagen zur Erforschung von Spätantike und frühem Mittelalter im Tiroler Raum – Herausgabe der Schriften Richard Heubergers (1884-1968)” – Tiroler Wissenschaftsförderung (TWF), Institut für Alte Geschichte und Altorientalistik, University of Innsbruck.
  • 2007–2009 Junior Scientist at the Institute for Medieval Research (IMAFO) – Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW).
  • 2010 Gerda Henkel Stiftung Fellow.
  • 2011–2013 Researcher at the University of Vienna: ERC advanced grant “Social cohesion, identity and religion in Europe, 400-1200 (SCIRE)”, supervised by Walter Pohl.
  • 2012 PD second doctorate – Dr. habilitatus, University of Vienna; venia docendi “Alte Geschichte und Altertumskunde” (= History and Classical Studies).
  • 2013 Gerda Henkel Stiftung Fellow.
  • 2014 Coordination of a research project financed by the “Jubiläumsfonds der Österreichischen Nationalbank”: “Zwischen Po und Donau. Ethnische und soziale Identitäten des ersten Jahrtausends unserer Zeit” (= From the Po to the Danube. Strategies of Identification and Ethnicity before, during and after Rome); graduate teaching at the universities of Innsbruck, Hildesheim and Vienna.
  • 2015–2016 Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (“Humboldtstipendium für erfahrene Wissenschaftler”): chair for Ancient History at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (host Hans-Ulrich Wiemer); Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut (FMI) für Geschichtswissenschaft at the Freie Universität Berlin (host Stefan Esders); graduate teaching at the universities of Vienna, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Hildesheim, Bayreuth and Innsbruck.
  • 2016–2019 Visiting professor at the Stiftung Universität Hildesheim (Germany).
  • 2016–2017 Senior Fellow at the Alfried Krupp Kolleg Greifswald (Germany).
  • 2017 Fellow at the Berliner Antike-Kolleg.
  • 2017–2018 Research group coordinator, DFG Kolleg “Migration und Mobilität in Spätantike und Frühmittelalter” (= Center for Advanced Studies 2496: Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages) at the University of Tübingen (Mischa Meier, Steffen Patzold, Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner).
  • 2018 Full professor “Alte Geschichte” (= History and Classics) at the University of Innsbruck (successing Reinhold Bichler).
  • 2023 Alexander v. Humboldt Research Fellowship (experienced researchers) – Freie Universität Berlin/Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Zentrale Berlin
  • 2023-2024 Visiting Research Fellowship at the Berliner Antike-Kolleg (BAK) (https://www.uibk.ac.at/alte-geschichte-orient/institut/team/rs/bak-fellow.html)

Research »

  • Roman History
  • The Transformation of the Roman World
  • Ethnicity/Ethnic identities in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
  • Classical and Early Medieval Historiography and Ethnography
  • Ecclesiastical History
  • Roman North Africa: “Africa in the first millennium”
  • Roman provinces in Northern Italy, the Alpine area, and the Balkans

    I am a Roman historian and work on the political, economic, institutional, and cultural history of the Empire between the first and sixth centuries AD as well as on the Transformation of the Roman World covering the first millennium and aspects of Early Medieval history. My first book “Die Vandalen. Aufstieg und Fall eines Barbarenreichs” (= The Vandals: Rise and Fall of Roman Barbarians) covered African and Vandalic history. My analysis consequently pictures Vandals (and Alans) as specialized military service providers in the late Roman world. Thus, I characterized the Vandals as “Roman barbarians” stressing the need to understand 5th and 6th century Africa as part of the late Roman world. Furthermore, the book analyses African societies and their connections throughout the Mediterranean. Archaeological material is constantly discussed and, in many cases, a starting point for my analysis. The book works on two levels: Firstly, it properly references sources and is fully comprehensible by the interested non-academic. Secondly, a rich apparatus provides scholarly debates in the endnotes, covering the history of research from the Early Modern period to our days. An English translation with Oxford University Press is planned for 2023.

    My second book Rom und die Barbaren. Völker im Alpen- und Donauraum (300-600)” looked at the transforming Roman Empire in the West and shed light on the history of the Gepids, Herulians and Rugians. These confederations seemingly had only a minor role in the shadow of the Goths and Huns between the 3rd and 6th centuries. In fact, they fought with and against the Romans, moved with the Huns and finally tried to establish their own kingdoms on the Danube and in the Balkans on the edge of the Empire. Following this ‘barbarian’ history between the Alps, the Danube, the Balkans and Italy, Roman history can be better understood.

    I published articles on historiography and ethnography, ethnic identities in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, edited “Arianism. Roman Heresy and Barbarian Creed (together with Guido M. Berndt for Routledge) and worked with Early Modern material to demonstrate the longue durée of ancient concepts, its uses and reuses. I constantly organise sessions at the International Medieval Congress Leeds, together with colleagues from the US, UK, Israel and Europe. Cf. my list of publications and conference activity.

    I am presently at work on several projects, including a handbook dealing with the history of the province of Raetia (modern eastern Switzerland, Bavaria south of the Danube, Vorarlberg, Tyrol), and a study on Roman and post-Roman North Africa considering the multitude of different local societies and cultural structures.

    As an academic teacher I offer courses in Greek and Roman history, additionally covering the concept of a “Long Late Antiquity” (Peter Brown), epigraphy, the transmission of manuscripts as well as ecclesiastical history and attempt to include archaeological material.

Learned Societies / Academic Duties »

Expertise »



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