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Professor Jen Baird

  • Overview



    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 topics such as ancient graffiti, ancient urbanism, archaeological photography, archaeological archives, and the history of Classical archaeology. Many of these publications have focussed on the site of Dura-Europos in Syria, where she has worked both in the field and in the archives, now held at Yale University Art Gallery. She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

    Her most recent monograph is Dura-Europos, published in Bloomsbury's Archaeological Histories series in 2018. Her book on the housing of Dura, The Inner Lives of Ancient Houseswas published by Oxford University Press in 2014. She has co-edited a number of collections including Ancient Graffiti in Context (2011), Remembering Roman Syria (2019), and Housing in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Material and Textual Approaches (2022) Cambridge University Press.

    Web profiles

    Professional activities

    Member of AHRC Peer Review College

    Specialist Assessor, Cultural Protection Fund, British Council

    Member of editorial committee, Britannia (Journal of Romano-British and Kindred Studies, published for the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies)

    Institute for Historical Research/Institute for Classical Studies/Warburg Institute Joint Research Degrees Committee

    Mentor for Syrian academics in exile with the Council for at-Risk Academics (Cara)

    Member of Roman Archaeology Committee, Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies

    Member of the Board of Trustees, Palestine Exploration Fund

    Member of Yale Digital Dura-Europos Archive Advisory Board

    Professional memberships

    Honours and awards

    • Keynote Lecture, The Shadows of the Discipline: Time in Archaeological Photographs, University of British Columbia, Department of Anthropology/Department of Classics Near Eastern and Religious Studies, November 2019
    • Keynote Lecture, The Ruins of Local Memory, Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, April 2023
    • Keynote Lecture, Imperial Debris, Global and Local Cultures in the Roman East: From Domination to Interaction, University of Helsinki, November 2018
    • Keynote Lecture, In Small Scratches Forgotten: Perspectives on Graffiti from Ancient Dura-Europos, Amsterdam Centre of Urban Studies, UVA, November 2016
    • Margo Tytus Research Fellowship, Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati, November 2008
    • Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, Leverhulme Trust, November 2007


  • Research


    Research Centres and Institutes

    Research clusters and groups

    • Materialities and material cultures
    • Difference, race and inequality
    • Environment: urban, rural, global
  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who are interested in undertaking research in any of my areas of research interest, including the Roman Near East, archaeological photography, and archaeological archives.

    My current PhD students include AHRC-funded campus-based and distance learning students working on PhDs topics including:

    • Scratching the Surface: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Graffiti from Hatra in Northern Iraq
    • The Thames on the Eve of Londinium: Exploring the Late Iron Age Landscape of the Tidal river
    • Life in Photographs: Movement and Materiality in the Archives of OGS Crawford (AHRC-CDP with Pitt Rivers Museum)
    • Everyday Food Tasks in Classical Greek Houses: Ceramic vessels and equipment for preparing and cooking food within the house
    • Wasted London: Rubbish and Recycling from the Romans to the Present (AHRC-CDP with Museum of London Archaeology)

    Current doctoral researchers


    Doctoral alumni since 2013-14



    I teach a number of undergraduate and postgraduate modules on Roman archaeology and archaeological theory, including Palmyra and Dura Europos: The Archaeology of Syria from Ancient Cities to Modern Destruction (UG, Level 5), and The Archaeology of Roman Slavery (MA), as well as contributing to team-taught modules on material culture, heritage, and the ancient world.

    Teaching modules

    • Public History and Heritage: Theories, Issues and Practice (SC03003S7)
    • Material Worlds (SSHC353S7)
    • Themes and Concepts in Archaeology (SSHC358S7)
    • Critical Approaches to Archaeology and Heritage (SSHC358S7)
    • The Archaeology of Roman Slavery (SSHC475S7)
    • Archaeology of the Everyday (SSHC487S5)
    • The Archaeology of the Roman Empire (SSHC522S5)
    • Palmyra and Dura-Europos: The Archaeology of Syria from Ancient Cities to Modern Destruction (Level 6) (SSHC563S6)
    • Ruins: The Creation of the Past (SSHC566S6)
    • The World of Rome in the Museums of London (Level 5) (SSHC567S5)
  • Publications




    Book Review

    Book Section