Past Member Rubina Raja receives Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award

On June 29, 2023, Rubina Raja, past Member in the School of Historical Studies (2019), was presented with the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award at the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Annual Meeting in Berlin. Each year, the award is given to internationally recognized researchers working outside of Germany. Its recipients, who typically work within scientific disciplines, are commended for their boundary-transcending research and high-impact academic achievements.

Raja's receipt of this award is unusual given her field of research: classical archaeology. Her scholarship explores visual culture and urbanism in the ancient world. During her time at IAS, she studied the structure of religious life in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria by considering a vast corpus of Roman-period portraits discovered there. It is this cross-disciplinary work, located at the interface between classical archaeology and religious studies, that drew praise from the award committee. 

Alongside her pioneering work on Palmyran portraiture, the committee also lauded Raja's important historiographic studies and her contributions to the development of new methods to understand urban spaces of the past, the development of cities, and networks of trade, goods, people, and ideas. Her high-impact research and fieldwork projects on Rome and the city of Jerash, Jordan were also emphasized.

Raja currently serves as Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at Aarhus University and Centre Director of the Danish National Research Foundation’s Centre for Urban Network Evolutions.