Joyce Reynolds


Born in London, Joyce Reynolds came to Somerville in 1937 to study Literae Humaniores (Classics). She took her Finals in 1941 and went on to work for the Board of Trade, where her study of the production and consumption of consumer goods later influenced her work on how the Roman world had run its own ‘civil service’. After the War, Reynolds won a research scholarship to the British School at Rome and her interest in the Roman inscriptions round at sites of excavation began to grow. She quickly became the leading expert on the inscriptions themselves as well on workshops that had produced them. Her most influential work has been on the inscriptions from the Greco-Roman city of Aphrodisias in modern Turkey, which she has used to explore historical questions about Roman government and the relations between the imperial centre and the provinces.

Reynolds took up the role of Director of Studies in Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge and in 1957 she was appointed to a Lectureship in Classics at Cambridge University. In 1982 she was made a Fellow of the British Academy. She was Reader in the Epigraphy of the Roman World at Cambridge in 1983-4. Reynolds is a Gold Medallist of the Society of Antiquaries and Fellow of the British Academy, by whom she was awarded the Kenyon Medal for outstanding achievement in Classical Studies and Archaeology. She is now Reader Emerita at the University of Cambridge and an Honorary Fellow of both Newnham and Somerville. One of her current projects is a brief account of texts on items of pottery for a multi-volume work on the House of the Menander at Pompeii.

Did you know? Joyce Reynolds taught a number of eminent classicists, including Mary Beard, who recalls the power of Reynolds’ teaching and the firmly sceptical approach it encouraged (‘Do you really know that, Miss Beard? Is that the only way you can interpret the evidence?’).

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