Arrivederci to Christopher Smith

DSC_5725This weekend Christopher Smith gave his final lecture as Director of the BSR. Colleagues and friends from the worlds of academia, diplomacy and the arts filled the Sainsbury Lecture Theatre as Christopher gave a whirlwind presentation of the projects and initiatives that have come to fruition over the past eight years. The spontaneous applause at the start of the lecture, and the standing ovation afterwards are testament to the esteem in which Christopher is held by his peers in Italy.

Standing ovation

A standing ovation for Christopher

The sentiment was no less generous back in June when Christopher gave his valedictory lecture in London, offering a personal reflection upon the BSR’s achievements and its future role in inspiring creative research. Introducing the lecture, Chairman of Council Tim Llewelyn rightly said that Christopher’s stewardship of the BSR has been ‘full of imagination and encouragement of research and scholarship’.

You can watch a recording of the valedictory lecture here.

Following Christopher’s lecture in Rome, we presented him with an overflowing box of cards and presents from fans across the world! Thank you to everyone who sent something through, it was very much appreciated!


Kind words were offered by our Assistant Director Tom True, Research Professor in Archaeology Simon Keay, and Christopher’s successor as president of the Unione Internazionale (Rome’s network of foreign academies) Wouter Bracke.

And to top the evening off, all guests enjoyed a slice of the Lapis Niger – in cake form! Perhaps not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of ancient Rome, but as every BSR resident who has had the privilege of his fabled forum tour will know, this inscribed stone is Christopher’s favourite Roman monument, and we couldn’t think of a better way to acknowledge this than reproducing it in edible form. Thank you to our chef Luca for making the cake and honing his inscription skills!

Lapis Niger

The Lapis Niger…. in cake form!

On Monday 25 September we held a special staff lunch with Christopher and Susan’s favourite BSR meal – Dharma’s legendary curry!

Special staff lunch

A special staff lunch in the cortile

This was our opportunity to present Christopher and Susan with their gifts. Various members of staff carefully selected images from our Archive collection to be reproduced in a portfolio. These images included photographs of the Roman Forum and Segni, – archaeological sites very close to Christopher’s heart – some images of the BSR’s third Director Thomas Ashby, and to finish a black and white print of Christopher with BSR staff.

Christopher and Susan open their presents

Assistant Director Tom True had expressed concern that after eight years of hearing the bell in the cortile rung daily at 8 a.m., 1 p.m. and 8 p.m., Christopher and Susan may have trouble remembering when to take their meals…it therefore seemed appropriate that we present them with their very own bell to ensure continued prandial punctuality!

Susan inaugurates their new bell

Christopher will be moving on to pursue a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, and we have no doubt that his research will continue to bring him back to the BSR in the future. But before embarking on this next stage, Christopher and Susan will be heading to France for a well-deserved rest.

Au revoir et bon courage!

Au revoir et bonne chance!


Text by Natalie Arrowsmith (Communications Manager) and photos by Chris Warde-Jones.