Document Actions

Professor Jennifer Baird

B.A. (Hons), M.A. Ph.D. (Leicester), FSA

Professor of Archaeology

Contact details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
Room 3.02
28 Russell Square

Tel: 020 7631 6808


  • Jen Baird came to Birkbeck in 2008 after holding a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Leicester. Her main interest is in the archaeology of Rome’s Eastern provinces and the archaeology of everyday life, but she has also published on ancient graffiti, ancient urbanism, archaeological photography, and the history of Classical archaeology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and an academic governor of Birkbeck College.

Research and teaching

  • Research interests
  • My central research interests include Roman provincial archaeology, ancient housing, and the history of Classical archaeology. My publications have used the site known as Dura-Europos, in Syria, to explore these topics. Dura was a polis that was variously under Hellenistic, Parthian, and Roman control until its demise at the hands of the Sasanians in the mid-third century CE. It was excavated under the directorship of Franz Cumont and Michael Rostovtzeff in the 1920s and 30s. Using new fieldwork in tandem with archival resources, my main project brought the largest corpus of urban housing in the Roman east to publication for the first time. It integrated architecture, artefacts, and textual evidence to examine ancient daily life and responses to Roman hegemony, and was published by Oxford University Press as The Inner Lives of Ancient Houses: An Archaeology of Dura-Europos.
  • One of the challenges facing contemporary Classical archaeology is how to approach the vast amount of legacy data generated by our discipline over its history, including a wealth of information generated, but often not published, by the ‘big digs’ of sites like Dura. The archives formed by such excavations are a rich resource and challenge, a resource which demands not only to be exploited as archaeological data but as an archive which must itself be set in historical context. In the Dura archive, I have kept (re)counting potsherds, but moved to write about other lines of enquiry too, questioning the archaeological gaze, the nature of archaeological archives, and the latent value judgement in the very name of Classical archaeology.
  • For copies of some of my articles and chapters, see:
  • Teaching
  • I teach a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules including
  • The Archaeology of Greece and Rome (Level 4)
  • The Archaeology of Roman Slavery (MA)
  • Material Worlds (MA)


  • Books
  • Baird, J. A. 2018, Dura-Europos. Bloomsbury Archaeological Histories Series. London: Bloomsbury.
  • Baird, J. A. 2014, The Inner Lives of Ancient Houses: An Archaeology of Dura-Europos. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Baird, J. A.  and C. Taylor, edd. 2011, Ancient Graffiti in Context. New York: Routledge.
  • Baird, J. A. and A. Pudsey, edd. (In prep) Between Words and Walls: Textual and Material Approaches to Ancient Housing.
  • Journal articles and book chapters
  • Baird, J A. and Kamash, Z (eds) 2019, Special Issue: Remembering Roman Syria, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies
  • Baird, J. A. 2018, “In Small Scratches Forgotten: Perspectives on Graffiti from Dura-Europos” Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis 131 (1): 17-33
  • Baird, J. A. 2017, “Framing the Past: Situating the Archaeological in Photographs” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 25.4
  • Baird, J. A. and C.  Taylor 2016, “Ancient Graffiti” in J. Ross (ed) Routledge Handbook of Graffiti and Street Art. New York: Routledge: 17-26
  • Baird, J. A. 2016 “Private graffiti? Scratching the Walls of Houses at Dura-Europos” in Rebecca Benefiel and Peter Keegan (eds) Inscriptions in Private Places. Brill Studies in Greek and Roman Epigraphy: Leiden: Brill, 13-31
  • Baird, J. A. 2016 “Everyday life in Roman Dura-Europos: The Evidence of Dress Practices”, in Kaizer, Ted (ed) Religion, Society and Culture at Dura-Europos. Yale Classical Studies Series, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Baird, J. A. 2015, “On Reading the Material Culture of Ancient Sexual Labour” Helios 42.1: 163-175.
  • Baird, J. A. and Lesley McFadyen, 2014. “Towards an Archaeology of Archaeological Archives” Archaeological Review from Cambridge 29.2 (The Archive Issue), 14-32.
  • Baird, J. A. 2013, “Religion and Ritual” in P. Clark (ed) Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 181-196.
  • Baird, J. A. 2012, “Re-excavating the Houses of Dura-Europos” Journal of Roman Archaeology 25: 146-169.
  • Baird, J. A. 2012, “Constructing Dura-Europos, Ancient and Modern”, in Kathryn Lafrenz Samuels and Darian Totten (eds) Making Roman Places: Past and Present. Portsmouth: JRA Supplemental Series, 34-49.
  • Baird, J. A. 2012, “Dura Deserta: The Death and Afterlife of Dura-Europos”, in Christie, Neil and Andrea Augenti (eds) Vrbes Extinctae: Archaeologies of Abandoned Classical Towns, Aldershot: Ashgate, 307-329.
  • Baird, J. A. 2012, “L’habitat d’époque romaine à Europos-Doura: replacer les artéfacts en contexte”, in Leriche, Pierre, Ségolène de Pontbriand and Gaëlle Coqueugniot (eds) Europos-Doura Varia 1. Beirut: IFPO, 231-240.
  • James, Simon, J. A. Baird, and Kristian Strutt 2012, “Magnetometry survey of Dura’s Roman military base and vicinity”, in Leriche, Pierre, Ségolène de Pontbriand and Gaëlle Coqueugniot (eds) Europos-Doura Varia 1. Beirut: IFPO, 111-116.
  • Baird, J. A. 2011, “The Houses of Dura-Europos: Archaeology, Archive, and Assemblage”, in L. Brody and G. Hoffman (eds) Dura-Europos: Crossroads of Antiquity. Boston: McMullan Museum, 235-250.
  • Baird, J. A.  and C. Taylor 2011, “Ancient Graffiti in Context: Introduction”, in Baird, J. A. and C. Taylor, (eds)  Ancient Graffiti in Context. New York: Routledge, 1-19.
  • Baird, J. A. 2011, “Graffiti at Dura-Europos: A Contextual Approach”, in Baird, J. A. and C. Taylor, (eds) Ancient Graffiti in Context. New York: Routledge, 49-68.
  • Baird, J. A. 2011, “Photographing Dura-Europos, 1928-1937. An Archaeology of the Archive”. American Journal of Archaeology 115.3, 427-46.
  • Baird, J. A. 2007, “The Bizarre Bazaar: Early Excavations in the Roman East and Problems of Nomenclature”, in Croxford, Benjamin, Nick Ray, Roman Roth, and Natalie White (eds) TRAC 06: Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference Proceedings 2006. Oxford: Oxbow, 34-42.
  • Baird, J. A. 2007, “Shopping, Eating and Drinking at Dura-Europos: Reconstructing Contexts”, in Lavan, Luke, Ellen Swift, and Toon Putzeys (eds) Objects in Context, Objects in Use: Material Spatiality in Late Antiquity. Late Antique Archaeology Supplementary Volume 4. Leiden: Brill, 413-437.
  • Recent lectures, seminars and conference papers
  • Keynote address “The Shadows of the Discipline: Time in Archaeological Photographs” for University of British Columbia, Department of Anthropology/Department of Classics Near Eastern and Religious Studies Archaeology Day 2019, March 2019.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, Invited lecture for symposium for the exhibit ‘The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East’, March 2019.
  • Archaeological Institute of America (Vancouver Branch), Invited lecture “From Aphlad to Zeus,” March 2019.
  • University of British Columbia, Department of Classics Near Eastern and Religious Studies, Invited seminar on “The Ruination of Dura-Europos”, March 2019.
  • Keynote address “Imperial Debris” for Global and Local Cultures in the Roman East: From Domination to Interaction, a workshop in a series entitled Globalisation, Urbanization and Urban Religion in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Roman and Early Islamic Period, funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences. University of Helsinki, November 2018.
  • Invited Keynote address on graffiti in Amsterdam Centre of Urban Studies, conference on “Fleeting Testimonies of Urban Life. Graffiti and other Transient Writings from Antiquity to the Present” Universiteit van Amsterdam, January 2016.
  • Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies. Invited session on Dura-Europos, “Yale’s Dura Archive: New Excavation Histories”, March 2016.
  • 1st Conference of the Colloquium on Roman Crete (CORCC 2016). with Daniel Stewart, Conference Paper : Framing Roman Knossos: Geophysics and Legacy Data, University of Nottingham, November 2016.
  • European Association of Archaeologists Conference, Conference Paper: Archaeological Photographs and Temporality: From Time Travel to Timelessness, EAA 21st Annual Meeting, Glasgow: September 2015.
  • Anthropology and Photography Conference, Royal Anthropological Institute, Conference Paper: “Mistaken images: intent and accident in archaeological photography”, May 2014.
  • Royal Anthropological Institute: Visualising Latin American Antiquities. Invited presentation “Framing the past: archaeological objectives and photographic objectivities”, June 2014.
  • Photographic History Research Centre Seminar at De Montfort University. Invited lecture on history of archaeological photography, “Exposing Archaeology: Time, Beauty, and the Role of Photographs in Archaeological Knowledge”, March 2013.
  • XIV Congressus Internationalis Epigraphiae Graecae et Latinae, Graffiti in Private Spaces, “Private graffiti? Scratching the walls of houses at Dura-Europos” invited lecture for section on “Inscriptions in Private Places” organised by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Berlin, August 2012.
  • Pitt Rivers Museum Research Seminar in Material and Visual Anthropology, Oxford University, invited lecture, “Exposing Archaeology: Photographs, Time, and Archaeological Knowledge”, June 2012.
  • Institute of Classical Studies, Roman Art Seminar, “Focussing on Roman objects: photographing the art and artefacts of Dura-Europos”, King’s College, London, April 2012.
  • Reviews
  • Baird, J. A. 2017, Review of Camera Graeca: Photographs, Narratives, Materialities, edited by Philip Carabott, Yannis Hamilakis and Eleni Papargyriou (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015) Journal of Hellenic Studies 137.
  • Baird, J. A. 2016, Review of Elena D. Corbett, Competitive Archaeology in Jordan: Narrating Identity from the Ottomans to the Hashemites. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015) Levant 48.2.
  • Baird, J. A. 2015, Jebel Khalid: Counting Sherds, or Sherds that Count? Review of Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates, vol. 3. The Pottery (Mediterranean Archaeology Supplement 7; University of Sydney 2011) by Heather Jackson and John Tidmarsh. Journal of Roman Archaeology 28, 2015: 877-881.
  • Baird, J. A. 2015, Review of Jonathan Hall, Artifact and Artifice. Classical Archaeology and the Ancient Historian. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013) Classical Review 2015: 554-556.
  • Baird, J. A. 2014, Review of Classical Spies: American archaeologists with the OSS in World War II Greece by Susan Heuck Allen. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011. Journal of Hellenic Studies 134, 2014: 273-274.
  • Baird, J. A. 2014, Review of The Photographs of the American Palestine Exploration Society. R. Hallote, F. Cobbing and J. B. Spurr.” Levant 46 1: 140–141.
  • Baird, J. A. 2012, Review of A History of Aerial Photography and Archaeology. Mata Hari’s Glass Eye and Other Stories, by Martyn Barker. London: English Heritage, 2010. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 22.3, 429-30. 6
  • Baird, J. A. 2012, Review of Whispering City. Rome and its Histories, by R. J. B Bosworth. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. Journal of Roman Studies 102: 323-324.
  • Baird, J. A. 2012, Review of Domestic Space in Classical Antiquity, by Lisa C. Nevett.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Classical Review 62. 2: 620-622.
  • Baird, J. A. 2012, Review of Everyday Writing in the Graeco-Roman East, by Roger S. Bagnall. Journal of Hellenic Studies 132 207-208.
  • Baird, J. A. 2009, Review of A Social Archaeology of Households in Neolithic Greece, by Stella G. Souvatzi.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2009.07.54.
  • Baird, J. A. 2009, Review of Aspects of the Roman East: Papers in Honour of Professor Fergus Millar, edited by Richard Alston and Samuel Lieu.  Turnhout: Brepols, 2007. Journal of Roman Studies 98: 234-235.
  • Baird, J. A. 2008, Review of Housing in Late Antiquity. From Palaces to Shops, edited by Luke Lavan, Lale Özgenel & Alexander Sarantis. Leiden: Brill, 2007. Medieval Archaeology 52: 465-466.


Professional membership

  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
  • Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, Palestine Exploration Fund, Council for British Research in the Levant.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.