Nicola Barham

Nicola Barham
  • Email:
  • Office: 251 Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 434 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1390
  • Ph.D. 2015 University of Chicago
  • CV

Research Interests


  • Art and visual culture of the ancient Roman world
  • The reconstruction of overlooked Roman aesthetic concepts
  • The Syrian diaspora in the Roman Empire
  • Visual strategies and layered cultural identities in tombs of the Roman East


  • Roman Empire, particularly the Eastern Mediterranean

Research Description

Nicola Barham’s research combines digital humanities methodologies, close visual analysis, and the study of material contexts and textual sources, in order to reconstruct, and subsequently analyse, the visual culture of the ancient Roman world. Her work variously considers overlooked aesthetic concepts, neglected visual media, and marginalized ethnic groups whose works (particularly funerary reliefs and mosaics) have long been sidelined in accounts of ancient Roman art. She addresses the full gamut of Roman visual media in her writing: from sculpture to glass vessels, and from fresco paintings to jewellery. Foci of interest include Roman visualities; abstract aesthetics in the ancient Roman world; and visual expressions of layered cultural identities in the art of the Roman East. In her curatorial work at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Prof. Barham is particularly interested in developing galleries as immersive, interactive spaces, and in experimenting with reconstructing ancient lighting effects, with visitor controls, for the display of Roman glass. In the field, she is engaged in a study of the Roman-period tombs of the Syro-Phoenician coast, paying particular attention to their varied visual strategies, their materiality, and the impact of the tombs’ immediate environment upon these aesthetic choices.

Highlighted Work and Publications: