Jessica Venner

Jessica Venner

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details


  • MA Classical Civilisation – Distinction, Birkbeck College (University of London)
  • BA Magazine Publishing (UAL)
  • Pompeii and the Cities of the Roman World (Oxford Department for Continuing Education)


Jessica Venner is an AHRC-M3C Doctoral Researcher at the University of Birmingham studying Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, supervised by Dr Gareth Sears and Professor Diana Spencer. She specialises in urban agricultural gardens in Pompeii and domestic and commercial architecture. She received her Masters from Birkbeck College, University of London and has worked on several archaeological sites in the UK and the Bay of Naples. Jessica is an Editor of Vesuvian Sites for the Gardens of the Roman Empire online appendices (follow up volume to the print version, 2018) and has previously mapped all gardens in Pompeii in collaboration with Professor Kathryn Gleason and Michele Palmer. She has previously held a professional post at the British School at Rome in London and currently works as a Palace Host at Hampton Court Palace. Jessica regularly volunteers as Collections Assistant at Amersham Museum and as a Digital Archivist at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford.


  • Age of Cicero (2019-20)
  • Understanding Ancient Societies (2019-20)

Doctoral research

PhD title
Hortus ager pauperis erat: Subsistence and commercial production in the urban gardens of first century AD Pompeii
Dr Gareth Sears and Professor Diana Spencer
Classics and Ancient History PhD/MA by Research (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)


Jessica's 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 her thesis Jessica explores the ancient experience of garden agriculture in Pompeii and the impact of the town's urban productive gardens on local nutrition, income, urban development, and social factors. In utilising literary, pictorial, epigraphic, spatial, archaeobotanical, and archaeological evidence from Pompeii in a multidisciplinary study, she examines the monetary and non-monetary economies operating around the urban agricultural gardens and the many forms these spaces took in domestic and commercial settings in the final decades of the city’s life. 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.

Other activities



  • There’s No Face Like Home: The Social Role of the Domestic Rustic hortus in First Century CE Pompeii, 2022 AIA and SCS joint Annual Meeting, San Francisco (January 2022).
  • 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 garden, Annual 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:
  • 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:

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 group, School 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 (November 2017)


  • 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)


  • 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)


  • Gardens of the Roman Empire Appendices (online)
  • Editor of Vesuvian Sites Rus 'Becomes' Urbs: Hard and Soft Landscape Elements in the Gardens of Pompeii, New Classicists Journal, Issue 4, January 2021. Open access here:
  • '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'

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities