My main area of research are Greek and Latin documents from the ancient Mediterranean, including papyri and inscriptions from Egypt in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods and the Vindolanda writing-tablets, and the social and economic history of the Roman Empire. Current research projects include an up-to-date Corpus of Ptolemaic Inscriptions from ancient Egypt, new writing-tablets from Vindolanda, and the Latinization of the North-Western provinces of the Roman empire.
I am an historian of the Roman empire, Camden Professor Emeritus (2002-2010) and former Principal of Brasenose College (2010-2015). In 1995 I founded the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents in the Faculty of Classics, which has played a leading role in developing digital imaging technologies for damaged documents. I served as its Director for twenty three years from 1995-2018. I have also served as President of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies (2001-5) and Vice-President (Humanities) of the British Academy (2014-8). My publications include works on the ancient agricultural economy, taxation, demography and literacy, as well as editions of unpublished Greek and Latin documentary texts on papyrus, wood and stone.