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Dr. B.D. (Benjamin) Rous

Faculty of Humanities
Capaciteitsgroep Conservering en Restauratie
Photographer: Daniella Rous

Visiting address
  • Hobbemastraat 22
Postal address
  • Postbus 94552
    1090 GN Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Profile

    Current activities

    At the moment, I am coordinator of the Netherlands Institute for Conservation+Art+Science+ (NICAS). As coordinator, I'm responsible for:

    • the daily management together with the Chair of NICAS;
    • drafting and implementing strategic policy documents;
    • initiating and tracking collaborative research projects;
    • finding funding opportunities for NICAS-related research;
    • keeping track of scientific developments within the field;
    • maintaining and expanding the national and international research network;
    • organising outreach events, courses and lectures.

    NICAS is a network organisation initiated, by the division for Physical Sciences of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Rijksmuseum (RM), the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE), the Faculties of Humanities and Science of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) as lead partners. NICAS seeks to integrate the disciplines of art history, conservation, the natural sciences (chemistry and physics) and data science (computer science and mathematics) in a lasting framework that strives to an optimal understanding, presentation and conservation of cultural heritage objects

    Past activities

    I have worked at the department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage as Research and Postgraduate Coordinator.

    I was responsible for the coordination of the post-initial phase of the Conservation and Restoration programme. After the Master’s phase, students are not yet ready to enter the professional field as trained conservator-restorers, but are so-called ‘restauratiekundigen’, experts in the basic theoretical, practical and ethical principles of the profession of conservator-restorer. In order to become a starting conservation professional, the student needs to complete an additional two-year post-initial track, during which they are employed by the university as restorers-in-training. After this phase, a Professional Doctorate in Conservation-Restoration is conferred, and graduates are ready to enter the professional field.

    As Research Coordinator my main responsibilities were coordinating PhD-research carried out at the department, both supporting the staff in existing PhD-projects and exploring possibilities for new PhD-research and assisting prospective PhD-candidates in drafting research proposals. In addition, I was involved in establishing a research profile for the Amsterdam C&R-programme, as well as finding an answer to the question of what the main criteria of (PhD-)research in conservation are: what should be it main subject and focus, what are the research questions that are unique to the discipline? Finally, I assisted in the preparation of grant proposals for external research funding, often involving consortia of international partners.

    I was also the study adviser for the Conservation and Restoration programme. That means that I provided guidance for Master students of the programme about study behaviour, personal problems affecting progress, conflicts with teachers, funding opportunities, etc. In addition, I provided information about the application and selection procedure of the programme to interested external candidates. 


  • Research

    PhD research project (2006-2010)

    Triumphs of compromise: an analysis of the monumentalisation of sanctuaries in Latium in the late republican period (second and first centuries BC)

    Monumental architecture from classical antiquity has always attracted a great deal of attention.By its very nature, it has a better chance of preservation over the centuries, although seldom completely intact, and is obviously far more visible than many other material categories from ancient times. It is one of the more inviting testimonies of ancient culture, since it allows visitors to walk among its remains, directly appealing to people's senses in a way that shards or other more humblematerial generally fail to do. Not surprisingly, monumental architecture has also occupied a central place in scholarly research on Roman and Italic culture. Of course, the lion's share has been directed at the architecture of the city of Rome itself, the baths and fora; in other words the great examples of imperial architecture. But the period prior to this phase of architectural maturity is no less interesting, and especially during the last decades the architecture of the republican period, both in Rome itself and in other regions of Italy, has been given greater prominence. Traditionally the research has been dominated by the study of formal architectural and stylistic characteristics, but increasingly attention is shifting in the direction of contextual analysis of sanctuaries, relating architecture to societal developments instead of studying it as a stand-alone phenomenon. A prominent place within the research of republican architecture is occupied by a group of sanctuaries in Latium, which were built or restructured on a monumental scale between roughly 175 and 50 BC: Fregellae (sanctuary of Aesculapius), Gabii (sanctuary of Juno Gabina), Tusculum (extra-urban sanctuary) Terracina (sanctuary on Monte S. Angelo), Palestrina (sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia), Nemi (sanctuary of DianaNemorensis), Tivoli (sanctuary of Hercules Victor) and Lanuvium (sanctuary of Juno Sospita). Imposing building complexes arose on highly visible locations, demonstrating an ability and desire to reshape the natural landscape as a setting for feats of architectural daring. Although some of these sanctuaries have been the subject of intense scholarly research and debateindividually, an interpretative synthesisof these monuments as a group has not been made. However, since these monuments seem to be geographically and chronologically concentrated, it is precisely as a group that we may hope to learn more about their genesis and development and their place within the broader category of religious architecture during the LateRepublic.

    During the last decades relatively little scholarly attention has been paid to explanations for the genesis and development of monumental sanctuaries in Latium. It seems as if these sanctuaries simply are , and have become a standard with which to compare existing and newly discovered building complexes. This study will evaluate this standard by analysing the monumentalisation of sanctuaries in Latium. In order to answer these questions, I have formulated two main research questions: (1) how can we explain the monumentalisation of Latial sanctuaries in the late republican period; and (2) what are the specific choices being made during the monumentalisation process with regard to architecture and ornamentation? It is emphatically not a presentation of new material, but rather a fresh appraisal of existing material, a deconstruction of sorts of the typology of the Latial monumental sanctuary. The starting point for the analysis of this group of building complexes in this study will therefore always be the individual monuments, yet these will be continually confronted with possible patterns emerging for the group of monuments as a whole.

    The basic assumption is that the (re)structuring of sanctuaries in a monumental way is in some way a meaningful act, and that the visual appearance, the outward form of the building complex consequently also carries meaning. The spending of vast amounts of resources is significant, and this research attempt to reconstruct the contribution of the different visual aspects of the Latial sanctuaries in thisway. How do (parts of) communities deliberately shape their religious spaces in order to convey a message about themselves, and can we perhaps discover to whom this message is addressed? Sanctuaries functioned as focal points of Roman and Italic society. As such, an interpretation of the visual aspects of these buildings provides an interesting glimpse into the way they were used to express existing, changing and changed (social) circumstances and relations.

  • Publications


    • Rous, B.D. 2011, An age without images: architectural decoration in the late republican period, in P.S. Lulof/C. Rescigno (eds.), Deliciae Fictiles IV:  Images of Gods, Monsters and Heroes , 84-94.
    • Rous, B.D. 2009, Grenzen van de macht, OOST 2, 46-47.
    • Rous, B. D. 2009, No place for cult: the sacred landscapeof Latium in the Late Republic, BABesch 84, 53-84.
    • Rous, B.D. 2008, Review of: Schmidt-Colinet, A. & Plattner, G.A. 2004, Antike Architektur und Bauornamentik: Grundformen und Grundbegriffe , Vienna, BABesch 83.
    • Rous, B.D. 2008, Klassiek geplooid, Kunstschrift 2/2008, 14-17.
    • Rous, B.D. 2007, Laatrepublikeinse heiligdommen in Latium: monument en markt, TMA 38, 25-30.
    • Rous, B.D. 2007, Gemaakt voor de eeuwigheid: observaties over een Populair Antiek Metaal, Kunstschrift 5/2007, 15-19.
    • Rous, B. D. 2007, Forms of Cult? Temples with transverse cellae in Republican and early Imperial Italy, BABesch 82 (2), 333-346.
    • Rous, B.D. 2006, De Naakte Waarheid: Venus in de Klassieke Oudheid, Kunstschrift 6/2006, 6-11.
  • Ancillary activities
    • Beliën & Van Tol Stadsverkenningen
    • ALBA - texts | talks | tours
      Culturele dienstverlening