Dr Justine Potts

Dr Justine Potts

Junior Research Fellow


I read Classics as an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford, and remained at Balliol to take a MSt and DPhil in Ancient History. Between the MSt and DPhil, I spent a year at the University of Bologna as a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar, specialising in Arabic and Persian. In 2018–19 I was Lecturer in Ancient History and Director of Studies in Classics at Regent’s Park College, Oxford. My doctorate, forthcoming as a monograph with OUP, was: 'Confession in the Greco-Roman world: a social and cultural history'.


I teach a variety of ancient history and archaeology papers to Classics, CAAH and AMH undergraduates, and particularly specialise in teaching the Religions of the Greek and Roman World paper. I also teach the Early Church at graduate level.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the religious and intellectual history of the ancient world, and is motivated by an ever deepening curiosity about the relationship between socio-political reality and intellectual change. I specialise in Roman history, but my work takes me beyond the confines of the Roman Empire; comparative history, global antiquity and longue durée historiography are central interests. My doctoral thesis 'Confession in the Greek and Roman world: a social and cultural history' is forthcoming as a monograph with OUP. This addressed the development of the confession of wrongdoing, in a religious sense, from Aristotle to Augustine, focusing on evidence from beyond the Jewish and Christian traditions. In tracing the history of confession, new perspectives opened up on the wider trends and transformations of the classical world into late antiquity.

The research project which I am undertaking as the Woodhouse Junior Research Fellow in Classics examines the rise of monotheism in the Roman Empire and ancient south Arabia in comparative perspective. Since first exploring the south Arabian 'confession inscriptions' as a doctoral researcher (comparing them with a similar corpus from Roman Asia Minor), I have been interested in the epigraphy of the south Arabian world. Consequently, I have edited a new inscription, in Sabaic, which attests to the only known military expedition of Sabaeans to the Horn of Africa. Epigraphy - whether of the Greek, Roman or south Arabian worlds - forms the basis of many of my explorations into the past. Increasingly, I find myself drawn to the excitements of ancient China, though I have more character-building to do before I can become fully immersed.

Recent Publications

Confession in the Greek and Roman worlds: a study of cultural transformation (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

‘Acting up and owning up: rethinking confession in the Roman World’, Omnibus, 2023.

‘Corpora in Connection: Anatomical Votives and the Confession Stelai of Lydia and Phrygia’ in E-J. Graham and J. Draycott (eds) Bodies of Evidence, Ancient Anatomical Votives, Past and Present, London and New York, Routledge, 20–44. 2016.