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Sera Baker

Doctoral Researcher, Faculty of Arts

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Biography

Sera is a Roman archaeologist specialising in Roman retail and non-elite architecture.

She received a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Classical Studies from Queen's University, Canada, before studying for the degree of Master of Arts in Roman Archaeology at the University of Nottingham, and she is currently finishing a doctorate in Archaeology at Nottingham University.

Over the past decade she has carried out fieldwork in Pompeii, Italy as a researcher and as a Primary Investigator with The Pompeii Food & Drink Project. Her doctoral work assesses remains of buildings that functioned as shops and workshops to explain how retail units and their contents reveal previously shrouded aspects of Roman daily life, like trade, commerce, social status, housing, urban planning and religion.

Her past research specialisations include 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. Her fieldwork and research visits have allowed her to live at The British School at Rome and to conduct research visits across in southern Italy. Further afield she has visited sites in North Africa and Germany, and, of course, the UK.

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.

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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