Introduction

I am an ancient historian and currently work as Teaching Associate in Ancient History at the University of Nottingham, where I also received my PhD in 2011. After completing my PhD I left Nottingham to teach ancient history at University College London as well as the University of Kent until 2013, after which I spent 3 months as the Mougins Museum Rome Award holder at the British School at Rome. I took up my current position in Nottingham at the start of 2014.

I am primarily interested in Roman history in the late Republic and early Principate. Above all I am fascinated by religion in the Roman world. This includes not only the more famous and well-established customs of the Roman state, but also the religious activities of private households and individuals, and even the religions of barbarian nations which drew so much comment from curious Roman onlookers.

In recent years I have developed what some have described as an 'unhealthy' interest in Roman attitudes towards dirt and impurity, both within religious settings and more widely in Roman society. This was the subject of my doctoral thesis, and has provided me with an extensive range of memorable (albeit generally unpleasant) anecdotes about Roman dirt and hygiene. I am currently researching this subject further, and am focusing on the use of dirt as a means of attacking groups or individuals in Roman society. At various points groups such as slaves, women, foreigners and those involved in unclean trades, such as undertakers and executioners, were all criticised or denigrated in Latin literature using the language of impurity, a language which marked them out as different, dangerous or otherwise 'lower' than those who existed at the centre of Roman society. How these groups were treated and perceived offers us new insights onto the complex issues of social identity in ancient Rome.