Dr Duncan Keenan-Jones

Lecturer in Ancient History

School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


Centre for Policy Futures
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 past, especially in the ancient Mediterranean and in Australia, as well as how these can help us manage this relationship today. He has current projects on the climate, flooding and water management in ancient Italy and floodplain management in Australia's channel country, as well as how Roman mortar developed and why it is so durable. He is an affiliate of UQ's Centre for Policy Futures, having been a fellow there in 2020.

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

  • Roman History
  • Ancient Mediterranean climate and environment
  • Mediterranean (geo-)archaeology
  • Automata and other ancient machines
  • Past water management and its application to modern practice
  • Australian Indigenous technological and cultural history/(geo-)archaeology

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 help to predict future climatic variation and flooding. This will allow impacts to be better understood and responses more appropriately planned. His research into mortar promises to reduce carbon emissions from concrete and mortar.

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


View all Publications

Available Projects

View all Available Projects


Book Chapter

  • Sivaguru, Mayandi (equal first author), Fouke, Kyle (equal first author), Keenan-Jones, Duncan Campbell (equal first author), Motta, Davide, Garcia, Marcelo H. and Fouke, Bruce W. (2021). Impact of diagenetic alteration on travertine crystalline shrubs, biofilm laminae and ripple marks in the anio novus aqueduct of Ancient Rome. From the Guajira Desert to the Apennines, and from the Sardinia/Corsica Microplate to the Killer Asteroid: honoring the career of Walter Alvarez. (pp. 1-78) edited by Julie K. Bartley, C. Kevin Boyce and Linda C. Kah. Boulder, CO USA: Geological Society of America.

  • 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

  • Keenan-Jones, Duncan (2012). Sale of a Horse. New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity 10: Greek and Other Inscriptions and Papyri Published 1988-1992. (pp. 123-125) edited by Llewelyn, S.R., Harrison, J. and Theophilus, M.. Grand Rapids, MI United States: Wm B Eerdmans Publishing.

  • Keenan-Jones, Duncan, Hellstrom, John C. and Drysdale, Russell N. (2011). Lead contamination in the drinking water of Pompeii. Pompeii: Art, Industry and Infrastructure. (pp. 131-148) edited by Poehler, Eric E., Flohr, Miko and Cole, Kevin. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxbow.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Keenan-Jones, Duncan, Foubert, Anneleen, Motta, Davide, Fried, Glenn, Sivaguru, Mayandi, Perillo, Mauricio, Waldsmith, Julia, Wang, Hong, Garcia, Marcelo H. and Fouke, Bruce W. (2014). Hierarchical Stratigraphy of Travertine Deposition in Ancient Roman Aqueducts. Tenth Meeting of Studies on Lazio and Sabina, Rome, Italy, 4 - 6 June 2013. Rome, Italy: Edizioni Quasar.

  • Keenan-Jones, Duncan (2010). The Aqua Augusta and control of water resources in the Bay of Naples. Australasian Society for Classical Studies Conference 31, Perth, WA Australia, 2010. Perth, WA Australia: Australasian Society of Classical Studies.

  • Keenan-Jones, Duncan, Hellstrom, John and Drysdale, Russell (2008). Trace Element and Other Analyses of Tufa from Ancient Water Systems in Campania and Petra. 13th International Conference on the History of Water Management and Hydraulic Engineering in the Mediterranean Region, Amman, Jordan, 31 March – 9 April 2007. Siegburg, Germany: Deutschen Wasserhistorischen Gesellschaft (DWhG) e.V..

Other Outputs

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.