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Ms Sophie Hay 

Experimental Officer, Geophysical Researcher APSS

Ms Sophie Hay's photo

Ms Sophie Hay is an Experimental Officer in Archaeology at the University of Southampton.

Having completed my MA in Roman Archaeology at The University of Reading, I worked for The British School at Rome as site director for their Pompeii Project, directed by Prof. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, and led the archaeological recording of Insula IX, Region 1 undertaking the recording of the standing structures. This body of work now forms the basis for my PhD.

My involvement with the Roman Towns Project, directed by Prof Simon Keay and Prof Martin Millett, working at sites such as Otricoli, Portus and Falerii Novi, introduced me to the application of geophysical survey as a means to understand archaeological urbanscapes and landscapes. As a result, I joined The Archaeological Prospection Service of Southampton (APSS) in 2003 and I project manage and conduct surveys in Italy in collaboration with the British School at Rome, where I am now permanently based. Over the last ten years, together with a team of research assistants, I have conducted over 60 geophysical survey projects in Italy and the wider Mediterranean.




Research interests

My research work for APSS involves conducting geophysical and topographical surveys in collaboration with universities, regional authorities and public institutions both in Italy and abroad on a vast range of archaeological research projects. The projects span a chronology dating from the prehistoric era to the medieval period, and include sites, ranging in size from individual monuments to townscapes, and in stature, from Roman road stations to Imperial palaces. Most recently I have worked on collaborative projects in Pompeii, Alba Fucens, and Cuma but also further afield, in Tunisia, Libya and a number of sites in Sudan. I am also initiating a geophysical survey in the Abruzzo region of Italy, at the Roman site of Peltuinum, as an APSS and BSR led research project.

While the use of geophysical survey is becoming more widespread within the framework of archaeological research, it is the methodological strategy that remains inadequately defined. Alongside the traditional application of geophysical techniques, I am committed to researching survey strategies and assessing the advantages of integrated surveys. This research has produced a series of book articles and conference papers.

Research group

Archaeological Prospection Service of Southampton (APSS)

Affiliate research group

Archaeological Computing

Research project(s)

Pompeii Project: Urban development in Pompeii: a case study of Insula 9 of Regio I

The unique archaeological remains of Pompeii provide us with some of the most valuable evidence of Roman urbanism. In the past, work in Pompeii has focused on the moment immediately prior to the eruption but more recently, studies have concentrated on chronicling the development of the city through time.


The Portus Project is guided by two main objectives.  Firstly, it seeks to build a better understanding of Portus itself, as well as its relationship to Ostia, Rome, and the rest of the Mediterranean.  Secondly, it aims to develop techniques that will enhance the ways in which highly complex classical sites can be investigated and recorded, and evaluate the impact of those techniques.


Falling into the broad research theme of landscapes and urbanscapes, the project at Peltuinum aims to map the Roman town and contextualise existing findings. A pilot season, in order to test the capabilities of two methods of geophysical survey: gradiometer and ground-penetrating radar (GPR), was undertaken by a joint APSS and BSR team in 2012.

Not teaching in 2012-13

Ms Sophie Hay
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton
Avenue Campus, Highfield
SO17 1BF
United Kingdom

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