I am an archaeologist who has returned to the UK after an extraordinary 19 years of living and working in Italy and I am happily settling into London life.

I completed a PhD and was awarded a doctorate (University of Southampton) based on the results of the fieldwork I undertook for the British School at Rome’s Pompeii Project under the direction of Prof. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill. My research involved the design and implementation of a system to record standing buildings. This then formed the basis for the chronological analysis of a block of houses (Insula 9, Region I) with a view to understanding the development of a group of non-elite houses through time.

And yes you may call me Dr Hay. I’m utterly fine with that. Really.

I am currently working as a freelance archaeologist and involved in a range of activities focussing on the ancient city of Pompeii. When I am not doing research for either of the books I have in the pipeline—one popular history book and one co-authored fiction book for children, both set in Pompeii—I can be found working as an historical consultant for television documentaries. I am sometimes thrust in front of the camera or a microphone for a podcast explaining some of the marvellous stories and discoveries from the city. I worked for a time helping the official Communications team of Pompeii with their posts on social media concentrating on revealing more about the history of excavations and putting some of the recent discoveries into context.

Being a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London is an enormous honour for which I am very grateful. I have also just been made a Fellow of the Institute of Classical Studies at the University of London and am so excited to be part of a like-minded community and able to discuss my research with them.

I was recently at the University of Cambridge as a Post-doctoral Research Associate on a Pompeii project ― The Bar of Amarantus and his Neighbours ― that focused on the excavations and building survey work we undertook in collaboration with The University of Reading in Pompeii. During this period I had the great fortune to collaborate with Caroline Bristow and her team at the Cambridge School Classics Project bringing the stories unearthed in our excavations into the classroom by creating a history course for children. The story of a bar in Pompeii and its owner, Sextus Pompeius Amarantus, is brought to life in an extraordinary narrative written by Caroline Lawrence and beautifully illustrated by Laura Jenkinson-Brown. All of this can be found here.

Prior to this, I worked at the University of Southampton for whom, in collaboration with the British School at Rome, I worked as a professional archaeologist conducting geophysical surveys. I have project managed over 100 geophysical surveys since 2003 and have had the privilege to work on a vast number of archaeological sites in Italy as well as further afield in Sudan, Libya, Turkey and Tunisia. 

Many of my academic publications can be found on academia.edu

When I travel my camera is usually wedged firmly against my face so be prepared for illustrated ramblings from my various adventures – my so-called ‘odysseys’ (although they have yet to feature sea monsters and enchanting ladies with chicken legs).

I am happy to respond to requests to use my photographs for any publications and to date I know that my images have appeared in academic publications, on websites, in an exhibition catalogue, various popular archaeological magazines and three best-selling books ― Tom Holland’s ‘Dynasty’ (2015) and Charlotte Higgins’ ‘Red Thread: Of Labyrinths and Mazes’ (2018), and Llewelyn Morgan’s ‘Ovid. A Very Short Introduction’ (2020).

I am also happy to respond to requests for television and radio work relating to my specialist subject of Pompeii. My recent involvement with television programmes can be found here.

And of course you can follow me on Twitter for a more diverse and colourful account of my existence by clicking the ‘follow @pompei79‘ button in the right hand column of this page.

I am also on Instagram: pompei79

Contact information:

Email: drsophiehay@gmail.com

11 thoughts on “About

  1. ritaroberts

    Hello Sophie, Wow ! I do envy you living in Rome a place I have been meaning to visit for years. I must do this sometime soon. However , I live in Crete so that’s the next best thing eh. Love your blog and am following.

    1. pompei79 Post author

      How lovely of you to say. Yes, Rome is a fabulous city to live in but I have visited Crete and can vouch that it is a spectacular location, so well done you! Thanks for following, I am honoured.

  2. Chahrazed

    Hi very lucky Sophie 🙂 Being an archeologist and living in Rome? You must be a special person 🙂
    I’m an architecture student (master 2) and currently designing a theme park for Timgad – Thamugadi as my final year’s project. I came across your blog while doing a research about the value of Timgad, and I want to ask you dear Sophie; what do you think of Timgad’s importance as an archeologist and a tourist? Does it have what it takes to make it an international tourist pole? Would it be more interesting with a theme park that tells her story? I would love to discuss my project with you if you don’t mind. Only I can’t do it in public :-p

    Please keep it Up, it’s inspiring to meetlovely people like yourself 🙂
    Have a fruitful day,


  3. kurtnemes

    Great site. I live in Naples in 1980 and Rome in 1981-2 in Trastevere. Both are amazing cities. I’d suggest mapping Paestum and if Algeria ever becomes safe again, Timgad and Tipasa. All the best.

    1. pompei79 Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. I don’t lecture at the moment but perhaps next year, when my work life will hopefully be more Pompeii-centric, I will.

  4. zententia

    Hi : ) my family and I are currently travelling around Algeria and I came across your blog. Really wonderful stories, about other countries as well! I am also an archaeologist so our travel interests seem very similar : ) and also just recently settled back in London.

    1. pompei79 Post author

      Oh that’s so lovely to hear and what a coincidence! Apologies for the lengthy delay in replying but I hope your trip to Algeria was as memorable as mine.


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