• Date of Birth: November 15, 1933
  • Born City: West Bridgford
  • Born State/Country: Nottingham
  • Date of Death: March 11, 2010
  • Death City: Bangor
  • Death State/Country: North Wales
  • Married: Kate Hughes, 1960
  • Education:

    Oriel College, Oxford, 1952-54, B.A. 1958; M.A., 1959; D.Phil. 1965

  • Dissertation:

    "The Frontiers of the Empire under Augustus" (Oxford, 1965). 

  • Professional Experience:

    Beaumont College, Old Windsor, Canada, University of Ottawa, 1960-88; vice dean ; ed. Echos du monde classique T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies & Dept. chair, Trinity University (San Antonio, TX), 1988-2005; Vice-Dean,  co-directed Second Canadian Team excavations at Carthage (with Edith Wightman), 1976-86; 1991-2; vis. lecturer and fellow, Brasenose College, Oxford, 1973-74; vis. prof., Berkeley, 1978; Strasbourg, 1990. 

  • Publications:

    “The Supposed Augustan Fortress at Oberhausen in Bavaria. The Evidence Reexamined,” AJA 71 (1967) 196; “Ancient History. New Approaches,” EMC 11 (1967) 29-38 “The Supposed Augustan Base at Augsburg Oberhausen. A New Look at the Evidence,” SJ 27 (1970) 63-72; “The Greek Lyric Poets Again,” EMC 17 (1973) 1-11 The German Policy of Augustus. An Examination of the Archaeological Evidence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972) REVS: Erasmus XXV 1973 758-760 Brockmeyer | AC XLII 1973 375 Raepsaet | RPh XLVII 1973 185 Richard | REL LI 1973 436-437 Béranger | NC XIII 1973 229-230 Robertson | CW LXVIII 1974 135-136 Fishwick | JRS LXIV 1974 256-257 Hassall | Archeologia XXIV 1973 199 Wielowiejski | Gymnasium LXXXI 1974 136-137 Burian | RHR 1974 N° 186 98 Turcan | Latomus XXXIII 1974 182-183 Rougé | Phoenix XXIX 1975 102-104 Barnes | CR XXV 1975 271-273 Salway | AntJ LIV 1974 332-333 Wilkes | HAnt IV 1974 424-425 Santos Yanguas ; AArchHung XXV 1973 426-427 Gáspár ; Gnomon XLVIII 1976 272-277 Simon ; GGA CCXXVIII 1976 163-173 Von Petrikovits “The Ethnography of the Celts and of the Algonkian-Iroquoian Tribes. A Comparison of Two Historical Traditions,” in Polis and Imperium. Studies in Honour of Edward Togo Salmon, ed. J.A.S. Evans (Toronto: Hakkert, 1974) 265-78; “The Impact of the Augustan Campaigns on Germany,” in Assimilation et résistance à la culture gréco-romaine dans le monde ancien. Travaux du VIe Congrès international de la Fédération internationale des Associations d'études classiques, Madrid septembre 1974, ed. D.M. Pippidi (Bucharest: Ed. Academiei; Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1976) 421-431; “Carthage 1976. La muraille théodosienne,” EMC 21 (1977) 15-23; “Manufacture, Distribution and Date. Some Methodological Considerations on the Dating of Augustan Terra Sigillata,” RCRF 17-18 (1977) 132-140 “Caesar's proximum iter in ulteriorem Galliam and the Conquest of the Western Alps, II,” in Studien zu den Militärgrenzen Roms, II: Vorträge des 10. Internationalen Limeskongresses in der Germania Inferior, ed. D. Haupt & H.G. Horn (Bonn: Habelt, 1977) 199-206; “L'implantation des ateliers de céramique sigillée en Gaule. Problématique de la recherché,” Figlina 2 (1977) 1-11; “Canadian Excavations at Carthage, 1979 Excavations,” with E.M. Wightman EMC 24 (1980) 11-18; “Canadian Excavations at Carthage, 1976 and 1978. The Theodosian Wall, Northern Sector,” with E.M. Wightman JFA 7 (1980) 43-63; “Quelques remarques sur Carthage à la veille des invasions arabes,” BCTH 17 B (1981) 55-63; “Excavations at Carthage, Northern Sector, 1981,” EMC 26 (1982) 206-13; “L'Afrique à la veille des invasions arabes,” in L'Afrique romaine, (ed.) Les Conférences Vanier 1980 Rev. Univ. d'Ottawa 52 (1982) 87-105 REVS: SLS XVI 1985 123-124 Mattingly; The Roman Empire (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1984; 2nd ed. (paper) Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995; Italian trans., L'impero Romano, 1984); “Bref rapport archéologique. Canada : II 1982-1983,” CEDAC no. 6 (1985) 7-22; “Further Light on the Late Defences at Carthage,’ in Studien zu den Militärgrenzen Roms, III: 13. Internationaler Limeskongress, Aalen 1983. Vorträge, Eric Birley zum 80. Geburtstag gewidmet, 12. Januar 1986, ed. D. Planck Stud. zu den Militärgrenzen Roms (Stuttgart: Landesdenkmalamt Baden-Württemberg, 1986) 673-79; “Houses of the Theodosian Period at Carthage,” with Joann Freed & James Gallagher EMC 32 (1988) 195-210; “Celibate Soldiers: Augustus and the Army,” AJAH 14, 1 (1989) 180-90; “The Problems of Desert Frontiers,” in Roman Frontier Studies 1989: Proceedings of the XVth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, ed. Valerie A. Maxfield & Michael J. Dobson (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1991) 478-81; “Aeneas in Purgatory,” in The Two Worlds of the Poet: New Perspectives on Vergil ed. Robert M. Wilhelm & Howard Jones (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1992) 179-188; “A Newly-Discovered Cryptoporticus and Bath at Carthage,” with Mark Bradley Garrison & P. Foss JRA 6 (1993) 251-60; “Town, Country, and Social Mobility,” in From Hannibal to Saint Augustine: Ancient Art of North Africa from the Musée du Louvre ed. Monique Seefried Brouillet (Atlanta, Ga.: Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, 1994) 84-89; “Paul Gauckler et la colline de l'Odéon à Carthage,” Ktèma 21 (1996) 157-79; “What's New Along the Lippe: Recent Work in North Germany: Review Article,” Britannia 29 (1998) 457-64; “The Construction of decumanus VI N and the Economy of the Early Colony of Carthage,” in Carthage Papers: The Early Colony's Economy, Water Supply, A Public Bath, and the Mobilization of State Olive Oil ed. J. Theodore Peña [et al.] (Portsmouth, RI: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 1998) 7-63; “The Roman Army and Fleet in War and Peace: Review Article,” AJA 103,3 (1999) 531-4; “A Cuckoo in the Nest: The Roman Odeon at Carthage in its Urban Context,” em>AJAH n.s. 3-4 (2004-2005) 131-42; Das antike Rom with R.M. Ogilvie & Michael H. Crawford (Düsseldorf: Albatros, 2006) REVS: AAHG 2008 61 (1-2) : 99-103 Gunther J. Sighartner.

  • Notes:

    After graduation from Nottingham high School, Colin Wells went up to Oriel College, but following the death of his mother, he was obliged to leave college and enter the Royal Artillery, serving in Egypt and Germany. He returned to Oxford to complete his degree. While still an undergraduate he converted to Catholicism at 21 and began his teaching career at a Jesuit public school. After a two-year stint at Ottawa, marriage, and the birth of a son, he returned to Oxford where he completed his D.Phil. His thesis on the frontiers of the Roman Empire under Augustus formed the basis of his early work. He returned to Ottawa where he chaired the department, established a popular new classical civilization course, edited Classical News and Views/Échos du monde classique, and served as Vice Dean. All this while, he maintained an active scholarly record, producing The German Policy of Augustus in 1972. In his career he wrote four books and over 120 articles earning him recognition by the Times as "the leading English-language scholar on the Roman army and frontier in Germany." 

    Beginning in 1976 he and Edith Wightman led the Canadian Second Team dig at Carthage, part of the "Save Carthage" project sponsored in part by UNESCO. Their work focussed chiefly on the Theodosian Wall and the Odeon Hill. Under the auspices of Trinity University, he returned to the excavation at the Odeon Hill in the early 1990s.  His book on the Roman Empire has remained a popular basic account. In 1987 he moved to San Antonio, where he remained until his retirement in 2005. He and his wife moved back to Oxford and then to a comfortable house in Saint Lô in Normandy. 
    He enjoyed some undergraduate fame as a cricketer and was devoted to the game for the rest of his life. 
  • Sources:

    Sunday Times (28 April 2010); Susan Treggiari, APA Newsletter (Winter 2010).

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.