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Sarah Downum – University of Reading

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  • Archaeology Postgraduate Students

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Sarah Downum

Visual Culture and 'decoration' in Iron Age Britain: seeing beyond metal.

My project focuses on decorative features found on non-metal artefacts from the Later Iron Age through Roman Britain, particularly focusing on decorated pottery, bone/antler 'combs' and wood. Attention will be placed on key sites from three regions of southern Britain: Danebury, Meare Lake Villages, and Dragonby. Main objectives of this project are to determine the visual representations shared between different materials, particularly looking at how they relate to one another, how they relate back to metalwork, and how these visual expressions represent interregional and intraregional social connections; and to further evaluate whether Roman occupation affected visual expressions and the significance of different regional responses within southern England. An evaluation of non-metals will allow for more 'communal' visual expressions to be understood.


About Me:

I hold a BA (Cum Laude) in Anthropology and Art History from the University of Georgia (USA) and an MA (with Merit) in Archaeology from University College London. My MA dissertation focused on regional changes in Iron Age decorated material culture of Britain and the social significances of these differences, which influenced my current PhD research. Following my undergraduate degree, I gained experience working in museums and conducting research for the National Portrait Gallery, and I have continued working within museums during my MA and PhD. I have a special interest in material culture and have used object handling to teach primary school children within museums since 2018.

Research Interests:

  • British Later Prehistory.
  • Iron Age Art and Material Culture.
  • Ceramic Studies.

Research Groups:

Objects, Materials and People

       S Downum



Professor Duncan Garrow (University of Reading)

Dr John Creighton (University of Reading)

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