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PhD: Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology

Thesis Title: Subsistence and commercial production in the private gardens of the Roman Empire


Thesis Description:

Gardens played a significant role in the lives of ancient Romans, providing attractive and stimulating spaces for recreation, business, self-promotion and memorialisation. While the above topics have been afforded generous attention in garden study, the productive roles of urban gardens have largely been ignored despite the often too brief acknowledgement of their importance for understanding local trade, the wider economy and the everyday lives of Romans. This thesis aims to fill this lacuna by examining the impact of urban gardens and their produce on the population and economy of Roman Campania. The proposed project will be the first comprehensive study of urban produce gardening in Roman society, as distinct from the pioneering work of Wilhelmina F. Jashemski by the application of literary, art and archaeological evidence to garden study, economic and demographic theory. Special interest will be taken in towns which participated in the Campanian nundinae (market days in the Roman calendar) with the aim to further enlighten us on the production of food, local trade, victual tastes, and small-scale urban labour in ancient Roman Campania. It is hoped that the findings of this study will have wider repercussions for contemporary approaches to food sustainability and urban space planning.


Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr Gareth Sears (University of Birmingham) and Professor Diana Spencer (University of Birmingham)


Relevant Employment:

  • Teaching Associate, University of Birmingham - Modules: The Age of Cicero and Understanding Ancient Societies (2019 onwards) 
  • Coin Handling Volunteer at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (2019 onwards)
  • Administrative Officer (Alumni and Events), British School at Rome (2017-2018)
  • Front of House and Tour Guide Volunteer, Somerset House Trust (2017-2018)


  • Presenation of the paper "Rus ‘becomes’ urbs: The epistemes of spatial definition and identity in the hortus urbanus at the Meaning, Memory and Movement: Ancient and Medieval Spaces conference, University of Birmingham, 23rd-24th November 2019.
  • Presenter and Chair of a discussion group at the Classical Marvels conference, University of St Andrews, 9th-10th May 2019, entitled 'The Mimesis of 'Human Nature' in the House of the Golden Bracelet, Pompeii' (9th May 2019)
  • Chaired and lead-organiser of the Annual Postgraduate CAHA Colloquium with PGR Development Fund funding (16th May 2019). Video available here:

Written Pieces:

  • Henton, L., Farebrother, E. and Venner, J. (2018) 'A preliminary analysis of targeted faunal assemblages retrieved by hand and by sieving during excavation seasons at Aeclanum, April 2018'
  • 'What’s for dinner? Diet, drink and daily life in Pompeii', Ancient History Magazine, Karwansaray Publishers, p. 29-35



  • Publicity Officer and Copy/Specialist Editor of the Rosetta Journal (2018-2019)


Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

  • Co-founder of Heads Down, Phones Off! PGR working group. School of History and Cultures, University of Birmingham (October 2018 onwards)
  • Organiser of BSR Members Tour of the London Mithraeum. In association with MOLA at Bloomberg SPACE for British School at Rome (May 2018)
  • Co-organised and managed 'Glass: Archaeology, History and Practice' at the British Museum. Study workshops and public lectures in association with the British Museum for British School at Rome (November 2017)


  • AHRC Visit Poster Presentation. Presentation of work in poster form to Professor Edward Harcourt, Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation for AHRC.
  • Annual Postgraduate CAHA Colloquium.


  • Chair of the Organising Committee - 2019 CAHA Colloquium (2019)
  • Member of the Selection Panel for the Awards for Excellence in Doctoral Research Supervision 2019 (2019)
  • Co-Chair of Student-Staff Committee (2018-2019)
  • Student Representative for College of Arts and Law Postgraduate Researcher Student-Staff Committee (2018-2019)
  • Committee Member of Rosetta Forum (2018 onwards)


  • Zooarchaeology team in post-excavation season with Apolline Project (April 2018)
  • Archaeobotany team at Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project Summer excavations (July 2017)
  • Archaeology team at excavations at Villa B, Oplontis with Kent Archaeological Field School (June - July 2017)



  • The Royal Horticultural Society (2019 onwards)
  • The British School at Rome (2019 onwards)
  • Greenpeace (2019 onwards)
  • The Royal Historical Society (Elected 2018)
  • The Friends of Herculaneum Society (2018 onwards)
  • The Kent Archaeological Field School (2016 onwards)
  • Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (2014 onwards)
  • The British Museum (2011-2018) 


  • M3C-BSR City of Rome Interdisciplinary Workshop: 'Rome: Changing physical and ideological landscapes of the eternal city'. (June 2019)
  • Practical Epigraphy Workshop, Ashmolean Museum (June 2019)
  • Royal Literary Fund and M3C Writing Workshop (February 2019)

Other Research Interests:

  • Food production and consumption
  • Domestic space
  • Gardens
  • Roman identity
  • Pompeii and Herculaneum



University email address:



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