I have taught Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Liverpool for more than 20 years. The chief areas of my research concern ancient economies, consumption practices, and the history of the first millennium BCE in southern Europe and Eurasia. My background is in ancient languages (Greek and Latin), Ancient Greek and Roman history, and European archaeology.
I was already interested as a child in the nature of ancient societies, and as a young graduate student worked at the British Museum, as a temporary assistant curator, piecing together hundreds of painted vases that had sunk off the Channel Islands in HMS 'Colossus', during the Napoleonic Wars. My doctoral research, at Oxford, took me to southern Europe, where I started to explore the landscapes behind the objects and ideas I was studying, with visits to Italy, Greece and Bulgaria. Eventually, these were also to become the places where I have conducted fieldwork and developed projects, notably at Adziyska Vodenitsa (ancient Pistiros) in Bulgaria (1995-2013); and at Olynthos, Chalkidice, in northern Greece (2014-2023).
It is impossible to consider social history, without also constructing some specific notions of economic behaviour. So the study of 'ancient economies' has played a key part in my approach to the remote past. I created the Ancient Economies Research Group in ACE, together with John Davies and Graham Oliver, which led to many fruitful international collaborations and publications.
Perhaps the most striking impression I have gained from thinking about the economies of the past is how much they have been shaped by social preoccupations.
This is one of the lessons that we really can bring to our understanding of our own societies and the challenges that we face as our climate, and our societies change in consequence.