Ralph Jackson

Curator of Romano-British Collections
Roman Britain

Department: Britain, Europe and Prehistory


+44 (0)20 7323 8580

Ralph Jackson, an archaeology graduate of University College Cardiff, joined the Museum in 1977. He has directed excavations on Roman military and civilian sites in Britain, specialises in Roman metalwork and the archaeology of ancient medicine and has just completed a book on objects of body care in Roman Britain.

His main medical interests are in ancient surgery, surgical practitioners and their instrumentation. Major publication projects in progress include a book on Greek and Roman surgery, a catalogue of the British Museum’s medical collections and, with Dr. Jacopo Ortalli, the publication of the remarkable medical assemblage from the ‘House of the Surgeon’ at Rimini.

Current projects

The Ashwell (‘near Baldock’) hoard of Roman temple treasure and its archaeological context (excavations led by G. Burleigh 2003-6)

Greek and Roman surgical instruments and medical objects in the British Museum

Previous projects

Preparation of Roman Britain gallery 1983, 1997, 2007

Lead curator for the exhibition ‘Gladiators and Caesars: the Power of Spectacle in Ancient Rome’

Cosmetic sets: an illustrated catalogue and discussion of a type unique to late Iron Age and Roman Britain

External fellowships/ honorary positions/ membership of professional bodies

Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries

Trustee of the Roman Research Trust

Member of Faculty of Archaeology, History & Letters, British School at Rome

Advisory Board member for the journal Medicina nei Secoli

Advisory Board member of the Institute for the Preservation of Medical Traditions, Smithsonian Institution

Recent publications

R. Jackson, ‘Medicine and hygiene’ in L Allason-Jones (ed) Artefacts in Roman Britain: their pattern and purpose, (Cambridge University Press), forthcoming.

R. Jackson, Cosmetic sets of Late Iron Age and Roman Britain (BM Res. Pub. No. 181, London, 2010).

R. Jackson (with Richard Hobbs), Roman Britain: Life at the Edge of Empire, (BM Press, London, 2010).

R. Jackson, ‘Lo strumentario chirurgico della domus riminese’ / ‘The surgical instrumentation of the Rimini domus’, in S. De Carolis (ed) Ars medica. I ferri del mestiere. La domus ‘del chirurgo’ di Rimini e la chirurgia nell’antica Roma (Guaraldi, Rimini, 2009), 73-91.

R. Jackson, ‘Imagining health-care in Roman London’ in J Clark, J Cotton, J Hall, R Sherris and H Swain (eds) Londinium and beyond: essays on Roman London and its hinterland for Harvey Sheldon (CBA Research Report 156, London, 2008), 194-200.

R. Jackson, ‘The Senuna treasure and shrine at Ashwell (Herts.)’ , in R Haeussler and A C King (eds) Continuity and Innovation in Religion in the Roman West Vol. 1 (Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series No. 67, 2007), 37-54 (with Gil Burleigh).

R. Jackson, ‘Roman bound captives: symbols of slavery?’, Chapter 12 in N Crummy (ed) Image, Craft and the Classical World. Essays in honour of Donald Bailey and Catherine Johns (Monographies Instrumentum 29, Éditions Monique Mergoil, Montagnac, 2005), 143-156.

R. Jackson, ‘The role of doctors in the city’, Chapter 12 in A Mac Mahon and J Price (eds) Roman Working Lives and Urban Living, (Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2005), 202-220.

R. Jackson, ‘Holding on to health? Bone surgery and instrumentation in the Roman Empire’, Chapter 5 in H King (ed) Health in antiquity (Routledge, London, 2005), 97-119.