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Dr Emma-Jayne Graham

Emma-Jayne Graham photo

Profile summary

Professional biography

I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2000 with a degree in Archaeology and Prehistory, swiftly followed by an MA in European Historical Archaeology and a PhD examining the burial of the urban poor in Roman Italy. After this I was Rome Fellow at the British School at Rome (2005-2006), during which I conducted further research into Roman mortuary customs with a project concerning the rite of os resectum. Subsequently I spent some time as a project officer with an archaeological consultancy, held an early career lectureship at Cardiff University (2007-2008), two teaching fellow positions in the School of Classics at the University of St. Andrews (2008-09 and 2010-2011) and a further teaching fellowship at the University of Leicester (2011-2012). I joined the Department of Classical Studies in September 2012.

Research interests

My research is focused primarily on the archaeology of Roman Italy and the ways in which it informs us about the construction of ancient identities and experiences. Mortuary practices and the treatment of the human body lie at the heart of much of my earliest work and I have written several articles which explore themes such as personhood and manipulation of the corpse, funerary commemoration and memory, as well as sensory interactions with man-made and natural environments. I am particularly interested in how bodily experiences of the material world gave meaning to people’s sense of self and how the body and its representation in material culture served as a locus for the construction and expression of these identities. I am currently working on a project which aims to address these issues by using a new materialist approach to explore the intersection of divergent experiences of the body in relation to material culture and religious practices.

Recent work has also taken me into the realm of ancient disability and bodily well-being, particularly mobility impairments, as well as infant health and ritual practice in Hellenistic Italy, including a project focused on terracotta votive offerings modelled in the form of infants wrapped in swaddling bands. This has led to an interest in votive practice more generally, especially anatomical ex-votos. In June 2012 I organised a conference on this subject at the British School at Rome (Bodies of Evidence). With Jessica Hughes I also edit a website devoted to discussion of votive offerings of all types: The Votives Project: Gifts to the Gods from Antiquity to the Present.

I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who would like to work in any of these areas.

Selected publications


Draycott, J. and Graham, E-J. (eds). 2017. Bodies of Evidence: Ancient Anatomical Votives Past, Present and Future. London and New York, Routledge.

Devlin, Z.L. and Graham, E-J. (eds). 2015. Death Embodied: Archaeological Approaches to the Treatment of the Corpse. Oxford, Oxbow.

Carroll, M. and Graham, E-J. (eds). 2014. Infant health and death in Roman Italy and beyond. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary series 96.

Graham, E-J. 2006. Death, disposal and the destitute: The burial of the urban poor in Italy in the late Roman Republic and early Empire. BAR Int. Series 1565. Oxford, Archaeopress.

Articles and book chapters

Graham, E-J. 2017. Babes in arms? Sensory dissonance and the ambiguities of votive objects. In E. Betts (ed.). Senses of the empire: multisensory approaches to Roman culture. London and New York, Routledge, pp. 122–38.

Graham, E-J. 2017. Partible humans and permeable gods: enacting human-divine personhood in the sanctuaries of Hellenistic Italy. In J. Draycott and E-J. Graham (eds). Bodies of Evidence: Ancient Anatomical Votives Past, Present and Future. London and New York, Routledge, pp. 45–62.

Graham, E-J. and Draycott, J. 2017. Debating the anatomical votive. In J.Draycott and E-J. Graham (eds). Bodies of Evidence: Ancient Anatomical Votives Past, Present and Future. London and New York, Routledge, pp. 1–19.

Graham, E-J. 2017. Mobility impairment in the sanctuaries of early Roman Italy. In C. Laes (ed.). Disability in Antiquity (Rewriting Antiquities series). London and New York, Routledge, pp. 248–66.

Graham, E-J. 2016. Wombs and Tombs in the Roman World. Material Religion 12(2), pp. 251–254. Available at:

Graham, E-J and Hope, V.M. 2016. Funerary Practices. In A. Cooley (ed.). A Companion to Roman Italy. Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 159–180.

Graham, E-J. 2015. Corporeal concerns: the role of the body in the transformation of Roman mortuary practices. In Z.L. Devlin and E-J. Graham (eds). Death Embodied: Archaeological Approaches to the Treatment of the Corpse. Oxford, Oxbow, pp. 41–62.

Graham, E-J. 2015. Embodying death in archaeology. In Z.L. Devlin and E-J. Graham (eds). Death Embodied: Archaeological Approaches to the Treatment of the Corpse. Oxford, Oxbow, pp. 1–17.

Graham, E-J. 2014. Infant votives and swaddling in Hellenistic Italy. In M. Carroll and E-J. Graham (eds). Infant health and death in Roman Italy and beyond. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary series 96, pp. 23–46.

Graham, E-J. 2013. The making of infants in Hellenistic and early Roman Italy: a votive perspective. World Archaeology 45.2, pp. 215–231.

Graham, E.-J. 2013. Disparate lives or disparate deaths? Post-mortem treatment of the body and the articulation of difference. In C. Laes, C. Goodey and M.L. Rose (eds). Disabilities in Roman antiquity. Disparate bodies ‘a capite ad calcem’. Brill, Leiden, pp. 249–274.

Graham, E-J. 2011. Memory and materiality: re-embodying the Roman funeral. In V. M. Hope and J. Huskinson (eds.). Memory and Mourning: Studies on Roman Death. Oxford, Oxbow, pp. 21–39.

Graham, E-J. 2011. From fragments to ancestors: re-defining os resectum and its role in rituals of purification and commemoration in Republican Rome. In M. Carroll and J. Rempel (eds) Living through the Dead: Burial and Commemoration in the Classical World. Oxford, Oxbow, pp. 91–109.

Graham, E-J. 2009. Becoming persons, becoming ancestors: personhood, memory and the corpse in Roman rituals of social remembrance. Archaeological Dialogues 16(1), pp. 51–74.

Graham, E-J. 2006. Discarding the destitute: Ancient and modern attitudes towards burial practices and memory preservation amongst the lower classes of Rome. In B. Croxford et al. (eds). TRAC 2005. Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference. Birmingham 2005. Oxford, Oxbow, pp. 57–71.

Graham, E-J. 2005. The Quick and the Dead in the extra-urban landscape: the Roman cemetery at Ostia/Portus as a lived environment. In J. Bruhn, B. Croxford and D. Grigoropoulos (eds). TRAC 2004. Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference. Durham 2004. Oxford, Oxbow, pp. 133–143.



Graham, E-J. Religion, material culture and the body in the Roman world. London and New York, Routledge (under contract).

Articles and book chapters

Graham, E-J. In press. ‘There buds the laurel’: Nature, temporality, and the making of place in the cemeteries of Roman Italy. Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal 1 (Open Access).

Graham, E-J. and Robson, J. In press. Classics online at the Open University: teaching and learning with interactive resources. In M. Musie (ed.) Forward with Classics! Classical Languages in Schools and Communities. Bloomsbury.

Graham, E-J. Hand in hand: Rethinking anatomical votives as material things. In V. Gasparini, M. Patzelt, R. Raja, A-K. Rieger, J. Rüpke, E. Urciuoli (eds). Lived Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Approaching Religious Transformations from Archaeology, History and Classics. De Gruyter (Open Access).

Graham, E-J. Feet of clay: movement, mobility and religious knowledge in the sanctuaries of ancient Italy. In J. Veitch and R. Littlechilds (eds). Religious Movement and Sensory Experience in the Roman World. Routledge, Studies in Roman Space and Urbanism series.

Graham, E-J. There and back again: experiencing pilgrimage in Latium during the mid Republic. In J. Kuuliala, C. Krötzl and J. Rantala (eds). On the Road: Travels, Pilgrimages and Social Interaction. Rome.

Graham, E-J. Death's ritual symbolic performance. In M. Erasmo (ed.). A Cultural History of Death in Antiquity. Berg.

See also Open Research Online for further details of Emma-Jayne Graham’s research publications.

Teaching interests

In addition to the history and archaeology of the Roman world I have experience of teaching a wide range of subjects, from Etruscan Italy to Viking Scandinavia and from Greek temples to early Christian art. At the Open University my teaching contributions include chairing and writing for A340 The Roman empire. This Level 3 module draws on archaeological, textual and epigraphic evidence to explore what the empire was and what it meant to ‘be Roman’ in different places and at different times. Recently I wrote about Roman childhood and the archaeology of the Acropolis for the new module A229 Exploring the Classical World and I was also closely involved in the development of the new MA in Classical Studies for which I wrote units on the Colosseum, zooarchaeology, working with inscriptions, the history of body studies, death and burial, disability and divine healing. I am interested in developing innovative forms of learning and assessment and completed a scholarship of assessment project looking at ways to re-design examinations. As Director of Level 1 Teaching (Arts) I was responsible for overseeing the initial stages of the remake of the Level 1 curriculum for the Arts programme, ready for launch in 2019.

Watch a brief video introduction to A340 The Roman empire.

I also recently developed a fun interactive educational game for Open Learn based on the emperor Hadrian's travels around the Roman empire during the second century CE.


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