School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr John Holton

Lecturer in Ancient History



I am a classicist and ancient historian interested in the literary and material remains of antiquity, and I strive to pursue creative interpretations of these in both my research and teaching. I am passionate about teaching students from a diverse range of backgrounds, and committed to the continual improvement of how student learning is shaped and administered. All of these things I consider to be centrally important components of my career as an academic.

Originally from West Yorkshire, I moved to Devon at a young age, before relocating to Wales for my BA and MA, then to Scotland for my doctorate. I now live and work happily in the north.

2005-8:           BA Ancient History (First Class), Swansea University

2008-9:           MA Ancient History and Classical Culture (Distinction), Swansea University

2010-14:         PhD Classics, University of Edinburgh

2011-14:         Tutor in Classics, University of Edinburgh

2014-15:         Postdoctoral Fellow in Classics, University of Edinburgh

2015—:           Lecturer in Ancient History, Newcastle University

2017—:           Fellow of the Higher Education Academy



My research focuses on the history and literature of the late Classical and Hellenistic periods (roughly 4th – 1st centuries BC). My main interests, which often coincide, include Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic empires, kingship and royal ideology, and Greek intellectual history. I remain strongly interested in the analytical opportunities offered by studying interconnections between various types of literary and material evidence. Among other things, I am currently completing a monograph titled The World of Hellenistic Kingship.

Current roles and responsibilities within the School of History, Classics and Archaeology

  • Teaching Excellence Framework subject-level co-ordinator (Classics)
  • Convenor for The Writing of History, an HCA Strategic Research Theme
  • Degree Programme Director, MA Classics and Ancient History (4035 F/P)
  • Member of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology EDI committee

Recent roles

  • Admissions Tutor and Selector for the UG programmes Q800, Q810, QQ83, V110
  • Open Day Co-Ordinator for Classics and Ancient History
  • Organiser and chair of Classics and Ancient History research seminars



Feedback, Guidance, and Consultation hours, 2019/20 (teaching weeks only)

SEMESTER 1: Tuesdays 09.00-11.00, Fridays 11.00-12.00

SEMESTER 2: Tuesdays 09.00-11.00, Fridays 11.00-12.00

Teaching, 2019/20


As module leader

  • CAH2006 : Hellenistic Empires from Alexander to Cleopatra
  • CAC8000 : Research Skills and Development [PG]
  • CAC8106 : Independent Research Project 1 [PG]
  • CAC8110 : Ancient Cultures in Context [PG]

As contributing lecturer

  • CAH1012: West meets East: Greek History and Society, 776-200 BC
  • CAH2208 : Issues in Ancient History


As module leader

  • CAH3010 : The Life and Afterlife of Alexander the Great
  • CAC8011 : The Writing of History [PG]
  • CAC8107 : Independent Research Project 2 [PG]

As contributing lecturer

  • CAH2009 : Portfolio in Ancient History I: Commentaries

SEMESTERS 1 and 2:

As module leader

  • CAC8090 : Dissertation for MA Classics and Ancient History [PG]

As contributing lecturer

  • CAH3000 : Portfolio in Ancient History II: Dissertation


Current research

I am currently engaged in four (partially overlapping) lines of research:

(i) I am currently completing a monograph entitled The World of Hellenistic Kingship, which examines the ideological development of kingship, and its relation to contemporary political and cultural environments, in the tumultuous period after Alexander the Great's death. Poetry, inscriptions, and coins feature heavily in the evidence base for this project, studying which has created a whole series of ramifications to be explored in future research. The book will be complete by December 2019, with a view to publication in 2020.

(ii) A secondary project I am undertaking focuses on the intellectual world of Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian writing a world-history in the first century BC. Areas of particular interest are Diodorus' early modern reception, his literary and generic backgrounds, and his place in modern European historiography. Two articles will be complete in summer 2019, to be published in 2019-20: one is titled ‘Diodorean renascence’, and the other ‘Thomas Hobbes, Diodorus Siculus, and Early Humanity’. I will begin work on a new monograph in this area in 2020.

(iii) As convenor of the School’s strategic research strand ‘The Writing of History’, in 2019/20 I will be organising a thematic seminar series titled Constructions of Authority, which examines how authority is framed, asserted, challenged, and reformulated across a range of historical, historiographical, and intellectual-historical contexts, ancient and modern. This will be concluded with a workshop/conference in 2020, and the resultant proceedings of all the events will form the basis for an edited volume to be completed in 2020/2021.

(iv) Also under the ambit of ‘The Writing of History’, in 2019/20 I will be pursuing an interdisciplinary project on the theme of Progress. More information on this will be available from Semester 1 of 2019/20 onwards.

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome potential PhD students wishing to work on any of the above areas, but also in the field of Hellenistic culture and history more broadly. Recent supervisions include:

‘Royal Ideology and the Hunt: Cultural interaction between Europe and Asia in the reign of Alexander the Great’ (completed 2019)

‘The Exiles of the Sullan Regime and the Elites of the Empire: Interaction, Discourse, Politics, and Integration in the 70s BC’ (began 2018)