Where did you go to university, and what did you study?

I studied History & History of Art at the University of York and specialised in Medieval and Renaissance History/Art History, then went to the Courtauld Institute to study Classical and Byzantine Art. Finally I ended up between the School of Oriental and African Studies and the University of Oxford (although the certificate was from SOAS) for a PhD exploring the relationship between architecture and ritual in the early Syrian Church.

What do you specialise in?

Middle Eastern Art and Architecture, especially the buildings and artistic traditions of Middle Eastern Christians and their relationships with the Muslim majority. Also anything to do with the origins of Christian and Islamic Art.

Taken in Lebanon

Are you doing any research at the moment/ what are your current projects?

I’m currently excavating a C6th castle on the river Euphrates on the eastern edge of the Syrian desert. It is in danger of falling into the river and is soon to be swallowed in a new man-made lake so we have to work as quickly as possible. So far we have discovered that it burned down about 150-200 years after it was built and that they ate lots of chicken….

What’s your Favourite spot in Manchester?

Actually I prefer to be out of the city -I  live on the edge of the Peak District and I’m more comfortable out in the country!!

What’s the soundtrack to your life/ your favourite Band/ Music?

I love Cheb Mami, an Algerian who sings in a style called Rai. His best known song is “Desert Rose” with Sting – but his solo stuff is MUCH better. Also cheesy Egyptian pop is great for dancing….