School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Joseph Skinner

Lecturer in Ancient Greek History


My fascination with past lives and societies can be traced all the way back to a childhood spent reading (or being read) historical novels by authors such as Rosemary Sutcliffe and Ronald Welch together with early encounters with archaeological excavation (mostly pot washing) and field walking (as well as being an avid fan of Rosemary Sutcliffe my mother was also an active member of the Sussex Archaeological Society at the time when the Rescue Movement was at its height). I enrolled in the Sussex Young Archaeologists Club as soon as I was eligible and spent several happy years thereafter attending events at historic sites such as Michelham Priory and Bignor Roman Villa dressed as an ancient Britain/Roman/Saxon. It wasn’t until after my A Levels, however, that I had an opportunity to formally study the Graeco-Roman antiquity (as a pupil of a Catholic-comprehensive I didn't have the opportunity to study Latin for Greek until Masters-level). This particular journey began when I migrated up to the beautiful seaside town of St. Andrews to study Ancient History. After five delightful years in the East Neuk of Fife/Munro-bagging in the Scottish Highlands (I was able to stay on for an M.Litt. thanks to an Arts and Humanities Research Council scholarship) I moved down the University of Leicester where I studied for an MA in Professional Archaeological Practice with a view to taking up a job in contract archaeology. After taking a year out to work as an archaeological illustrator in the School of Ancient History and Archaeology I then relocated once more to the port city of Liverpool to undertake a funded PhD on ancient ethnography under the supervision of Professors Tom Harrison and Christopher Tuplin. On completing my doctorate I was lucky enough to spend a year as School Student at the British School at Athens preparing my thesis for publication. I then returned to Liverpool where I taught Ancient History on a series of rolling one-year 0.8 contracts from 2010-2013. I have been a Lecturer in Ancient Greek History at Newcastle since 2013.



My research focuses both on the history of ancient ethnographic thought and the origins and nature of Greek identity. I am particularly interested in Herodotus' Histories: the intellectual and cultural milieu from which they emerged, the role of ethnographic description within the Histories and the light they shed on what it meant to be Greek in the first place. I am also interested in the broader theme of contact and interaction between Greeks and non-Greeks in regions as far flung as northern Greece (the Chalkidiki), ancient Bactria (modern Afghanistan) and Magna Graecia (e.g. S. Calabria), ideas of community and territory, ancient visual culture, Achaemenid Persia and nineteenth-century receptions of historiographical enquiry.

Since July 2014 I have been collaborating with colleagues in History, Classics and Archaeology in a ground-breaking partnership between Newcastle University, West Jesmond Primary, the Great North Museum, and various service-providers catering for migrants and refugees. The aim of The Beyond Frontiers Project is to draw upon various aspects of our research on topics such as ancient identities, objects and children's cultures to promote mutual respect and understanding between local communities and those new to the North East. 

I am actively involved in fieldwork on the Greek island of Naxos (The Apalirou Environs Project) and the ancient city of Olynthos in the Chalkidiki (The Olynthos Project).


Undergraduate modules

  • CAH1012 : West Meets East: Greek History and Society, 776-200BC
  • CAH2036 : Greeks and Barbarians
  • CAH3034 : 'Like ants or frogs around the pond': Mobility and identity in the Greek Mediterranean 
  • CAH3035 : World of Herodotus
  • CAH3005: City of Athens: Power, politics and culture

Postgraduate modules

I am available to teach the following modules on subjects relating to my research interests: 

  • CAC8106: Independent Study Project in Classics and Ancient History 1 
  • CAC8107: Independent Study Project in Classics and Ancient History 2

Postgraduate supervision

I am willing to supervise dissertations on any aspect of Greek history or material culture relating to my research interests but would particularly welcome applications for PhD projects relating to: the history and reception of ancient ethnography, Herodotus' Histories, contact and interaction between Greeks and non-Greeks, and the origins, history and nature of Greek identity.

I am currently supervising the following PhD projects:

Jordan Bayley: Herodotean receptions during the long nineteenth century.

I am also co-supervising the following PhDs:

Mara Lou Schumacher: From archive to the microscope: an interdisciplinary approach to understanding domestic organisation in ancient Greece.

Recently supervised PhDs:

James Mullen: The Image of the King: Can the royal hunts of Alexander the Great be seen as engaging with Aristotle's theory of pambasileia in order to legitimise his rule as King of Asia?

(As co-supervisor) Nigel Porter:  Images of Warrior Departure on Athenian Painted Pottery 600-400 BC.