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Scholarly Interest Report
Walter M. Widrig
Professor Emeritus
Professor Emeritus of Art History
  • B.A., 1951, Yale University
  • M.A., 1956, Columbia University
  • Ph.D., 1975, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Department Affiliations
  • Department of Art History
    Research Areas
     Roman and Early Christian Art and Architecture; Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern Architectural History

    Brief Biography and Statement of Research Interests


    Dr. Widrig’s first archaeological field experience was working with Richard Kautheimer, the author of the Corpus basilicarum christianarum Romae, in 1957.  Digging was in the Verano Cemetery of Rome with the goal of finding the foundations of the 4th century century Basilica Maior of San Lorenzo; then an attempt to establish the original plan, again Constantinian, of the Lateran Cathedral. 

    Dr. Widrig went on to collaborate with Richard Goodchild (the Director of Antiquities of Cyrenaica in Libya) in the excavation of the West Church of Apollonia, and, independently, of two basilica churches at Latrun. All three churches are published in the Papers of the British School at Rome.  For two summers Dr. Widrig was the Site Supervisor at the San Rocco, Francolise, villa excavations outside of Capua conducted by John Ward Perkins, Director of the British School at Rome, and Peter von Blanckenhagen of New York University.  In 1975 a summer was spent as co-director with Joseph Carter excavating at Metaponto in Southern Italy.  A private concession was given to Dr. Widrig for the Via Gabina project in 1976; fourteen seasons of digging followed.

    In 1959 Dr. Widrig received a two-year Fulbright grant for archaeological research in Rome.  He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, England’s oldest academic society, in 1981. 

    In 2010, Dr. Widrig was awarded the Star of Italian Solidarity by the President of the Republic of Italy, a decoration which bestows the title of "Cavaliere."

    He taught in the Department of Art and Art History at Rice University for thirty-one years before becoming Professor Emeritus in the year 2000.  He served as department chair from 1982-1985.

    Selected Publications

    Walter M. Widrig, "Land use at the Via Gabina Villas," Ancient Roman Villa Gardens, ed. Elisabeth MacDougall, Dumbarton Oaks (1987), pp. 223-260.


    Walter Widrig, "Excavations on the ancient via Gabina," Second preliminary report, N.S., ser 8.37, 1983 (Uncei 1986), pp. 141-182.


    Walter Widrig and Philip Oliver-Smith, "Villa rustica romana.  Relazione preliminare sulle campagne di Scavo 1976 e 1977 nell' agro romano," N.S. ser. 8.35, 1981 (Uncei 1982), pp. 99-114.


    Walter M. Widrig, "Two sites on the Ancient Via Gabina," British Museum Occasional Paper 24 (1980), pp. 119-140.


    Walter Widrig, "Two Churches at Latrun in Cyrenaica," PBSR, vol. XLVI (1978), pp. 94-131.


    Walter Widrig and Richard Goodchild, "The West Church at Apollonea in Cyrenaica," PBSR, vol. XXVII (1960), 70-90.


    Walter M. Widrig, The Via Gabina Villas, Rice University Press (2009).


    Walter Widrig, "The Via Gabina Villas: Sites 10, 11 and 13" (2005), online publication of the final report: viagabina.rice.edu

    "Life in the Suburbs of Ancient Rome," Texas Classical Association, Houston, TX. (October, 1999)

    "Roman Villa Life: The Rice Excavation of Roman Villas Along the Ancient Via Gabina," Rice Alumni College, Rice University, Houston, TX. (April, 1999)


    "Heretics, Courts, Berbers, and Islam: The Christian Churches of Cyrenaica," The Archaeological Institute of America, Houston Society. (April, 1998)

     Session Chair

    "Roman Archaeology and Topography," the Archaeological Institute of America, Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, December 1999.  (Presided at the Session)

    Awards, Prizes, & Fellowships
     Awarded the Star of Italian Solidarity by the President of the Republic of Italy, a decoration which bestows the title "Cavaliere", (2010)

     Member, Advisory Council, The American Academy in Rome (1999-present)

     Elected member of the Houston Philosophical Society-6 terms on the Executive Committee, (1998-present)

     Elected Term Trustee of the American Schools of Oriental Research, (Late 1980's)

     Frost Foundation Grant, (1986-1988)

     Mellon Grant for Research, (1985)

     Elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, (1981)

     Rice Coordinator, Houston Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (1969-1999)

     Co-Founder of the Houston Society of the Archaeological Institute of America, (1968)

     Member of the National Governing Council, the Archaeological Institute of America, (1968-1999)

     Fulbright Fellowship for Reseach in Rome, (1959-1961)