Dr Duncan Keenan-Jones

Lecturer in Ancient History

School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 56639


Duncan is Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Queensland. His research focuses on the relationship between environment, technology and society in the Roman world and he has a current project on the role of climate in Roman history. He currently holds the HASS Faculty Fellowship at UQ's Centre for Policy Futures,

Before taking up the position at UQ, he held postdoctoral positions at the Collegium de Lyon (2017-2018), University of Glasgow (2014 - 2017) and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (2011-2014). Duncan's doctoral thesis (Macquarie University, 2011), investigated the creation and social and environmental impacts of a unique, regional water supply network. Before his Masters of Arts in Ancient History (Macquarie, 2006), Duncan completed an honours degree in chemical engineering.

Research Interests

  • Mediterranean (geo-)archaeology
  • Roman History
  • Ancient Mediterranean climate and environment
  • Automata and other ancient machines
  • Past water management

Research Impacts

Duncan's research helps us understand our long history of using technology and changing our environment. The records of past Italian climate Duncan is producing will form a part of global climate research initiatives, helping to improve the climate-model simulations used to predict future climatic variation. This will allow impacts to be better understood and responses more appropriately planned.

At the Centre for Policy Futures, Duncan is using a deep history approach and lessons from past experience to inform current water and flood plain management in Australia and around the world.


  • Master of Arts in Ancient History, Macquarie University
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Macquarie University


  • Comas-Bru, Laia, Harrison, Sandy P., Werner, Martin, Rehfeld, Kira, Scroxton, Nick, Veiga-Pires, Cristina and SISAL working group (2019). Evaluating model outputs using integrated global speleothem records of climate change since the last glacial. Climate of the Past, 15 (4), 1557-1579. doi: 10.5194/cp-15-1557-2019

  • Keenan-Jones, Duncan and Hebblewhite, Mark (2019). The pitfalls of using ancient population, army and casualty data without expert curation: a review of oka et al. 2017. Cliodynamics, 10 (1), 54-66. doi: 10.21237/C7clio10142345

  • Atsawawaranunt, Kamolphat, Comas-Bru, Laia, Amirnezhad Mozhdehi, Sahar, Deininger, Michael, Harrison, Sandy P., Baker, Andy, Boyd, Meighan, Kaushal, Nikita, Ahmad, Syed Masood, Ait Brahim, Yassine, Arienzo, Monica, Bajo, Petra, Braun, Kirsten, Burstyn, Yuval, Chawchai, Sakonvan, Duhan, Wuhui, Hatvani, István Gábor, Hu, Jun, Kern, Zoltán, Labuhn, Inga, Lachniet, Matthew, Lechleiter, Franziska A., Lorrey, Andrew, Pérez-Mejías, Carlos, Pickering, Robyn, Scroxton, Nick, SISAL Working Group Members and Keenan-Jones, Duncan (2018). The SISAL database: a global resource to document oxygen and carbon isotope records from speleothems. Earth System Science Data, 10 (3), 1687-1713. doi: 10.5194/essd-10-1687-2018

View all Publications


Book Chapter

  • Keenan-Jones, Duncan (2015). Water. The Encyclopedia of Ancient History. (pp. 1-2) Hoboken, NJ, United States: John Wiley & Sons. doi: 10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah25071

  • Keenan-Jones, Duncan (2013). Large-Scale Water Management Projects in Roman Central-Southern Italy. The Ancient Mediterranean Environment between Science and History. (pp. 233-256) Leiden, Germany: Brill. doi: 10.1163/9789004254053_011

Journal Article