M4C Logo AHRC Logo

Jessica Venner

University of Birmingham

Thesis title:

Subsistence and commercial production in the private gardens of the Roman Empire

My research project takes an interdisciplinary approach to subsistence and commercial gardening in first century AD Pompeii, up to the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. In my thesis I aim to investigate the impact of urban agricultural gardens on the local population of Pompeii during its final decades and reveal the symbolic and economic role of these spaces in local monetary and non-monetary economies. The mapping of productive gardens already identified in previous excavations, as well as the identification of as yet unidentified sites, will form a part of this analysis. In this, I identify for the first time a rise in market gardens following the major earthquake which hit the town in AD 62 and introduce a theoretical model for categorising ‘new’ gardens.

Research Area


  • Gardens of the Roman Empire Appendices (online) - Editor of Pompeii (forthcoming April 2021)
  • Rus 'Becomes' Urbs: Hard and Soft Landscape Elements in the Gardens of Pompeii, New Classicists Journal, Issue 4, January 2021. Open access here: https://bit.ly/36o6sdg
  • 'What’s for dinner? Diet, drink and daily life in Pompeii', Ancient History Magazine, Karwansaray Publishers, p. 29-35
  • Henton, L., Farebrother, E. and Venner, J. (2018) 'A preliminary analysis of targeted faunal assemblages retrieved by hand and by sieving during excavation seasons at Aeclanum, April 2018'


  • Urban Gardens and Resiliency in Post-Earthquake Pompeii 62-79 CE, (co-authored) K. Gleason, M. Palmer, C. Barrett, A. Marzano, K. Tally-Schumacher and J. Venner, CELA (March 2021).
  • Nature as Nurturer: The sensory effect of light and shade in the Roman gardenAnnual Meeting of Postgraduates in Ancient History (March 2021).
  • Founder and Chair of the CAHA WIP Seminar Series (2021).
  • Supply and Demand: Rise of the Opportunistic Garden in First Century AD Pompeii, TRAC Webinar Series, 1st December 2020. Video available here: https://youtu.be/l6pF6Jk3LYA
  • Rise of the Opportunistic Garden in First Century AD Pompeii, CAHA Colloquium 2020, 26th June 2020.
  • 'Rus 'becomes' urbs: The epistemes of spatial definition and identity in the hortus urbanus' -  Meaning, Memory and Movement: Ancient and Medieval Spaces conference, University of Birmingham, 23rd-24th November 2019.
  • 'The Mimesis of 'Human Nature' in the House of the Golden Bracelet, Pompeii', short paper and Chair of discussion group/round table - Classical Marvels conference, University of St Andrews, 9th-10th May 2019.
  • Chair and lead-organiser of the Annual Postgraduate CAHA Colloquium with PGR Development Fund funding - Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Birmingham, 16th May 2019. Video available here: https://bit.ly/2Wztk1F

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Guest on Ancient History Hound podcast (forthcoming April 2021)
  • Interviewed for Port & Terminal magazine on the subject of trade in Pompeii. (2020)
  • Interviewed for ClassicalFix blog on the subject of my research into Roman gardens. (2020)
  • Editor of the Gardens of the Roman Empire Online Appendices (Pompeii) (2021 onwards)
  • Founder and Chair of the CAHA WIP Seminar Series (2021)
  • Publicity Officer and Copy/Specialist Editor of the Rosetta Journal (2018-2019)
  • AHRC Visit Poster Presentation. Presentation of research poster to Professor Edward Harcourt, Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation for AHRC (by invitation from Professor Michaela Mahlberg, College of Arts and Law Director of Research) (January 2019)
  • Chair and Lead Organiser of the Annual Postgraduate CAHA Colloquium (May 2019)
  • Co-founder of Heads Down, Phones Off! PGR working groupSchool of History and Cultures, University of Birmingham (October 2018 - August 2019)
  • Lead Events Planner of BSR Members Tour of the London Mithraeum. In association with MOLA at Bloomberg SPACE for British School at Rome (May 2018)
  • Lead Events Planner of 'Glass: Archaeology, History and Practice' at the British Museum. Study workshops and public lectures in association with the British Museum for British School at Rome (November 2017)

Other Research Interests

  • Roman food production and consumption
  • Domestic space and spatial syntax
  • Roman gardens and landscape
  • Roman identity
  • Pompeii and Herculaneum


  • Museums Association (Individual Member) (2020 onwards)
  • The Royal Horticultural Society (2019 onwards)
  • The British School at Rome (2019 onwards)
  • Greenpeace (2019 onwards)
  • The Royal Historical Society (Elected 2018)
  • The Friends of Herculaneum Society (2018 onwards)
  • The Kent Archaeological Field School (2016 onwards)
  • Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (2014 onwards)
  • The British Museum (2011-2018) 

Relevant Employment

  • Editor of the Online Appendices to the Gardens of the Roman Empire (publication online forthcoming)
  • Learning Officer (Placement) in the Learning Team, Waddesdon Manor (March 2021 - July 2021)
  • Collections Assistant, Chiltern Open Air Museum (January 2021 - present)
  • Digital Archives Assistant, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (March 2020 - present)
  • Welcome and Events, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (January 2020 - present)
  • Coins Handler, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (November 2019 - present)
  • Teaching Associate, University of Birmingham (Modules: Age of Cicero and Understanding Ancient Societies) (2019-20)
  • Administrative Officer (Alumni and Events), British School at Rome (2017-2018)
  • Front of House and Tour Guide at Somerset House, Somerset House Trust (2017-2018)
  • (Previous career in Marketing and Broadcast at Total Media and Wavemaker, 2013-2017)
  • Welcome Volunteer at Valentines Mansion and Gardens, Valentines Mansion (2015-2016) 


  • Chair of the Organising Committee - 2019 CAHA Colloquium (2019)
  • Member of the Selection Panel for the Awards for Excellence in Doctoral Research Supervision 2019 (2019)
  • Elected Co-Chair of Student-Staff Committee (2018-2019)
  • Student Representative for College of Arts and Law Postgraduate Researcher Student-Staff Committee (2018-2019)
  • Committee Member of Rosetta Forum (2018-2019)


  • Zooarchaeology team during post-excavation season, Apolline Project. (April 2018)
  • Archaeobotany team, Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project Summer excavations. (July 2017)
  • Archaeology team, excavations at Villa B, Oplontis with Kent Archaeological Field School. (June - July 2017)


  • Prince2 Project Management Foundation Certificate - Passed (November 2021)
  • Certificate in Digital Preservation - Digital Preservation Coalition (January 2021)
  • Collections Management - Chiltern Open Air Museum (December 2020 - ongoing)
  • Museum Essentials (completed Working with Collections) - Museums Association (completed January 2021)
  • Digital Archiving and Coin Handling - Ashmolean Museum (various dates in 2020)
  • Colonialism and Museums - Ashmolean Museum (various dates in 2020)
  • Welcome Volunteering - Ashmolean Museum (various dates in 2020)
  • Coin Handling - Ashmolean Museum (various dates in 2020)
  • MAAST Understanding Roman Artefacts, CIfA certified - MOLA (various dates in 2020)
  • M3C-BSR City of Rome Interdisciplinary Workshop: 'Rome: Changing physical and ideological landscapes of the eternal city'. (June 2019)
  • Practical Epigraphy Workshop, Ashmolean Museum (June 2019)
  • Royal Literary Fund and M3C Writing Workshop (February 2019)
  • Reading Italian for Researchers (October 2018 - June 2019)
  • PADI Certified Open Water Scuba Diver Course (June 2018)
  • Certificate in Archaeobotanical Analysis, Institute of Archaeology, University College London (February 2018)
  • Certificate in Environmental Archaeology, Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (July 2017)
  • Intensive Latin Beginner Course, London Classics Summer School, University College London (July 2017)

Other Qualifications

  • MA Classical Civilisation (Distinction), Birkbeck College, University of London
  • Pompeii and the Cities of the Roman World, Oxford Department for Continuing Education 
  • BA (hons) Magazine Publishing (First Class), London College of Communication, University of the Arts
  • Museum Essentials, certificate in Working with Collections, Museums Association (ongoing)
  • RHS Level 2 Garden Planning, Establishment, and Maintenance, RHS (ongoing)
  • Arts and Heritage Management, certificate, Università Bocconi (ongoing)