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Sera Baker

Research Student, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

A Roman archaeologist specialising in socio-cultural and economic examinations of ancient Pompeii and the early Roman Empire.

I am especially passionate about the small shops, workshops and commercial spaces of ancient Pompeii and Rome. My archaeological research, towards a PhD in Archaeology at The University of Nottingham, concentrates upon deciphering the context of these properties in an effort to explain how these small archaeological structures and their contents reveal previously shrouded aspects of Roman daily life. These shops, through their archaeological remains, provide an understanding of population, society, culture, urban planning, trade, and commerce in the Roman world.

Other recent research specialisations include food and drink in Pompeii and ancient Rome, death and burial practices in the early Roman Empire at Rome and Ostia (Isola Sacra), and power, marriage and relationships within the Julio-Claudian family of Republican Rome. My studies have led me to live in Rome and spend lengthy periods in Pompeii, including research visits to nearby Ostia and Tivoli while based in Rome and Stabiae, Boscoreale, Oplontis, Herculaneum and Naples while based in Pompeii. My research has brought me to a number of Roman sites and museums in Britain, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Tunisia.

For news of recent archaeological discoveries and research in ancient Rome, please follow me on Twitter @seraecbaker and my contributions to Blogging Pompeii, a blog for all those who work on Pompeii and the other archaeological sites of the Bay of Naples.

Research Summary

My doctoral research concentrates upon Roman Pompeii's physical materials for more than 100 shops, workshops and commercial spaces, known as tabernae, belonging to Region VIII of the ancient urban… read more

Recent Publications

  • SULLIVAN, R., 2010. Pompeian Poop: with contributions from Sera Baker. Discovery Channel Magazine. June/July 2010, 91-97
  • BAKER, S., GRAY, A., LAKIN, K., MADGWICK, R., POOLE, K. and SANDIAS, M., eds., 2009. Food & Drink in Archaeology II. University of Nottingham Postgraduate Conference 2008. Prospect Books.
  • BAKER, S., MIDDLE, S., POOLE, KRISTOPHER and ALLEN, M., eds., 2008. Food & Drink in Archaeology I. University of Nottingham Postgraduate Conference 2007. Prospect Books.

Current Research

My doctoral research concentrates upon Roman Pompeii's physical materials for more than 100 shops, workshops and commercial spaces, known as tabernae, belonging to Region VIII of the ancient urban centre destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.

The contextualisation and explanation of these archaeological structures and their contents reveal previously shrouded aspects of Roman daily life by

  • providing an understanding of the socio-economic spectrum at Pompeii;
  • presenting a clearer picture of population, urban planning, trade and commerce in the Roman world;
  • reconnecting the material culture represented by artefacts with their excavated properties;
  • recognising the proportionality of shops, workshops and commercial spaces versus domestic and civic buildings;
  • demonstrating the use and function of individual shops and the characterisation of practices within neighbourhoods;
  • and, shedding light on property ownership legalities.

To date this research, now in the writing up stage, has resulted in a unique database containing primary research material (field evaluations) including more than 5000 photographs and new plans by the author, historical records and previously unpublished research and excavation records.

Over the course of my doctoral degree study I was the recipient of major competitive scholarships, including The University of Nottingham Recognition of Excellence in the Arts Tuition Scholarship 2005-2008, The University of Nottingham School of Humanities Fee Bursary 2005-2008 and The University of Nottingham Graduate School Travel Prize May 2008.

Supervisors

Dr William Bowden, Associate Professor in Roman Archaeology, The University of Nottingham

Dr Hamish Forbes, Associate Professor, The University of Nottingham

Prof Roger JA Wilson, (formerly) Professor of Archaeology, The University of Nottingham; (currently) Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire and Head, CNERS at The University of British Columbia, Canada.

Teaching

I am currently tutor for 'Pompeii and the Cities of the Roman World', The University of Oxford, in addition to occasional seminar teaching and marking for The University of Nottingham. I am also an Academic Mentor and Support Worker for Disability Support, The University of Nottingham providing academic mentoring services and support for students with disabilities enabling them to succeed academically and practically.

Conference Organisation

'Food & Drink in Archaeology 2007: A Postgraduate Conference' and 'Food and Drink in Archaeology 2008: Interdisciplinary Perspectives'. I initiated and acted as the head organiser of this interdisciplinary conference series with assistance from selected interdisciplinary postgraduate researchers with the goal of disseminating up and coming research in the field of food and drink archaeology. In 2007 I co-chaired the conference and in 2008 I co-chaired a session as well. I submitted successful applications to receive funding from The University of Nottingham, School of Humanities - Roberts Money (2007 & 2008), The University of Nottingham Alumni Fund (2007), and The Arts and Humanities Research Council (2008). The proceedings of the first conference were published in 2008 and subsequently won two awards, with the proceedings of the second conference published in 2009.

Fieldwork and Research

In addition to my own field research at Pompeii as part of my doctorate, between 2006-2011 I was a member of staff with The Pompeii Food and Drink Project undertaking archaeological analysis of daily life patterns through non-invasive study of structures associated with production, trade and consumption. As a Primary Investigator and Drawing Team Leader, I oversaw field research and techniques as well as lecturing upon the Roman world and Pompeian life, especially the socio-economic development of the ancient town. During the annual research season I co-directed the measured documentation of structures, rewrote the project's orientation guide, assisted in the writing of a future site survey guide, and coordinated pre-season contact with staff and students which continued as pastoral support during active field seasons.

Past Research

In 2003 I graduated with a BAH in Classical Studies from Queen's University, Canada. My studies covered a vast area of knowledge upon the ancient Greek and Roman world, including ancient languages, history, art and archaeology, leading to a dissertation focused upon 'Women in the Lives of C. Julius Caesar and Cn. Pompeius Magnus'. In 2004 I received a MA in Roman Archaeology from The University of Nottingham, UK. During this time my studies focused upon the City of Rome with two months intensive instruction at The British School at Rome leading to 'Studies of Selected Tombs from Rome: the Necropolis Ostiense, the Vatican Carpark Necropolis and the Necropolis of Isola Sacra at Portus' as a research dissertation; other topics studied include Roman mystery religions and Christianity, Early Roman Britain, Roman Germany and Roman Africa.

Awards

Over the course of my undergraduate and masters degree studies I was the recipient of major competitive scholarships and awards, including:

  • The Imperial Oil Higher Education Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement (1999-2003)
  • The University of Nottingham, School of Humanities Award (2003-2004)
  • The British School at Rome, City of Rome Programme Award (2004)
Fieldwork

I have previously excavated at the Roman villa excavations at Ossaia in Cortona, Italy in collaboration with The University of Alberta, The University of Perugia and the Town of Cortona, Italy.

  • SULLIVAN, R., 2010. Pompeian Poop: with contributions from Sera Baker. Discovery Channel Magazine. June/July 2010, 91-97
  • BAKER, S., GRAY, A., LAKIN, K., MADGWICK, R., POOLE, K. and SANDIAS, M., eds., 2009. Food & Drink in Archaeology II. University of Nottingham Postgraduate Conference 2008. Prospect Books.
  • BAKER, S., MIDDLE, S., POOLE, KRISTOPHER and ALLEN, M., eds., 2008. Food & Drink in Archaeology I. University of Nottingham Postgraduate Conference 2007. Prospect Books.

Department of Archaeology

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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