My discovery of the past has always combined the study of artefacts, and more generally material culture, with the investigation of texts, and thence to more abstract ideas - about the nature of ancient societies.
The process began in the British Museum, as a six year old. When I later worked at the British Museum, it was only 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.
I was tempted away by doctoral research, at Oxford, where I started to explore the landscapes behind the objects and ideas I was studying, with visits to Greece and Bulgaria. Eventually, these were also to become the places where I have conducted fieldwork and developed projects.
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.
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.
Other Personal Distinctions
- invitation to speak (Institute of Archaeology, University of Uppsala, Sweden, 2009)
- invitation to speak (University of Leuven, 2009)
- invitation to attend meeting of EU ambassadors (Council of Europe, 2004)