I am a Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Leicester and am primarily interested in the history of Rome during the periods of the late Republic and early Principate. Above all I am fascinated by the role of religion and ritual in Roman society, from the lavish and grandiose festivals and sacrifices of the Roman state to the private religion of the household and the individual, and the religions of barbarian nations which drew so much comment from curious Roman onlookers.
My latest work in this area has looked at representations of victimarii - the unfortunate men and women who had the precarious job of killing the sacrificial animals. Despite being at the centre of the business of sacrifice, and providing some of the most striking figures in artistic representations of sacrifice, the victimarii have often been overlooked. Hopefully that will change in the future!
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 foreigners and those involved in unclean trades, for example undertakers and executioners, were all criticised or denigrated by Roman society and labelled as unclean for various reasons, marking them out as different, dangerous or otherwise 'lower' than those who existed at the social centre. How these groups were treated and perceived offers us new insights onto the complex issues of social identity in ancient Rome. Since Rome provided the framework for marginalization in many later societies in European history, the subject is one with particular significance, even for the modern world, where marginal identities remain as contentious as ever.