Janet Kay

Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer
Office Phone
1N-6 Green Hall


Janet Kay holds B.A.s in Archaeology and History from Boston University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Boston College. Her interdisciplinary work uses archaeological methods and data to study the history of late Roman and early medieval Britain. At Princeton, Kay teaches courses that combine archaeological and textual sources to study the past. She is a former fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows and is affiliated with the Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity and the Program in Medieval Studies, where she is the Project Leader of the Environmental History Lab. Kay is also a Project Co-Leader for the Climate Change and History Research Initiative.

Kay’s first book, Norse in Newfoundland, explored the relationship between the Vinland Sagas and archaeological evidence for Norse exploration in the North Atlantic. Her current book project looks at burial practices and bioarchaeology to study how people in Britain’s post-Roman fifth century—a period for which there are no surviving texts—negotiated their relationships with the past and with their newly-arrived neighbors. Kay’s next research project examines the concept of a cosmological and physical underworld in late Roman Britain.

Kay is also involved in ongoing collaborative research projects about the First Plague Pandemic, biomolecular archaeology, and paleogenomics.


Ph.D., Boston College, 2017

Selected Publications

J.E. Kay, I. Koncz, J. Wilson, R. Singer, T.P. Newfield, L. Mordechai, and M. Eisenberg, “Burial Archaeology and the First Plague Pandemic,” forthcoming in Speculum 100/2 (2025), preprint hosted at BodoArXiv.

J.E. Kay and I. Koncz, “Archaeological Approaches to Multiple Burials and Mass Graves in Early Medieval Europe,” Medieval Archaeology, 67/1 (2023), pp. 115–136.

L. Mordechai, M. Eisenberg, T.P. Newfield A. Izdebski, J.E. Kay, and H. Poinar, “The Justinianic Plague: An Inconsequential Pandemic?Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dec. 2, 2019), 1–9.

Moving from Wales and the west in fifth-century Britain: isotope evidence for eastward migration,” in Patricia Skinner, ed., The Welsh and the World in the Middle Ages (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, March 2018), 17–47.

Children’s Burials in Fifth-Century Britain and Connections to the Roman Past,” Childhood in the Past, 9/2 (September 2016), 86–108.

Norse in Newfoundland: A Critical Examination of Archaeological Research at the Norse Site at L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, British Archaeological Reports, International Series, 2339 (Oxford: Archaeopress, February 2012).

Archaeology of Late Roman and Early Medieval Britain
Home Department and Other Affiliations
Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity
Council on Science and Technology
Medieval Studies
Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts