Smith comes from Edinburgh and studied Classics and then Classical Archaeology at Oxford. He was a Fellow by Examination in Ancient History at Magdalen College, Oxford (1981-1986), a Harkness Fellow at Princeton University (1983-85), and an Alexander von Humbolt Fellow at the Institut fuer Klassische Archaeologie in Munich (1991-2).
He taught Hellenistic and Roman art at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University from 1986, before coming to Lincoln in 1995. He is a member of the Faculty of Classics and of the School of Archaeology and lectures on classical art and archaeology. He is also the Curator of the Cast Gallery of the Ashmolean Museum and (since 1991) Project Director of the New York University Excavations at Aphrodisias in Turkey: http://www.arch.ox.ac.uk/research/research_projects/aphrodisias.
Smith's main research interests are in the art and visual cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world. His work is mainly directed at the historical interpretation of ancient visual representation and its relationship with contemporary social and political culture. In connection with his work at Aphrodisias he has a particular interest in the art and archaeology of the Greek cities of the Eastern Roman Empire. He has been engaged in the study and publication of the new marble finds from Aphrodisias since 1985. He had a British Academy/ Philip Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship in 2007-8 for aspects of this work, and with the historian Bryan Ward-Perkins has been awarded an Art and Humanities Research Council grant for a project titled 'The Last Statues of Antiquity' (for three years, starting in 2009) to investigate the distinctive character of statue use in late antiquity from AD 284 to 650: www.ocla.ox.ac.uk/statues .
Principal and recent publications
Books and monographs
Hellenistic Royal Portraits (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1988).
Hellenistic Sculpture (Thames & Hudson, London 1991).
Aphrodisias I: The Monument of C.Julius Zoilos (Philipp von Zabern, Mainz, 1993).
Aphrodisias Papers 2 (Ed. with K.T. Erim, Michigan 1991).
Aphrodisias Papers 3 (Ed. with C. Roueche, Michigan, 1996)
The imperial reliefs from the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias, Journal of Roman Studies 77 (1987) 88-138.
Simulacra gentium: the ethne from the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias, Journal of Roman Studies 78 (1988) 50-77.
Late Roman Philosopher Portraits from Aphrodisias, Journal of Roman Studies 90 (1990) 127-55.
A new portrait of Pythagoras, Aphrodisias Papers 2 (1991) 159-167.
Spear-won land at Boscoreale: On the royal paintings of a Roman villa, Journal of Roman Archaeology 7 (1994) 100-128.
A Greek and Roman Point of View in Viewpoint Is there a Place for Aesthetics in Archaeology:, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 4.2 (1994) 260-64.
Archaeological Research at Aphrodisias in Caria, 1993, American Journal of Archaeology 99 (1995) 33-58, with C. Ratte (and following years).
A New Shield Portrait in Izmir, Roemische Mitteilungen 102 (1995) 331-39.
Ptolemaic portraits: Alexandrian types, Egyptian versions, in Alexandria and Alexandrianism (Malibu, J.P.Getty Museum, 1996) 203-213.
Typology and diversity in the portraits of Augustus, Journal of Roman Archaeology 9 (1996) 31-47.
The Public Image of Licinius I: Sculptured portraits and imperial ideology in the early fourth century, Journal of Roman Studies 87 (1997) 170-202.
Cultural choice and political identity in honorific portrait statues in the Greek East in the second century AD, Journal of Roman Studies 88 (1998) 56-93.
Late antique portraits in a public context: Honorific statuary at Aphrodisias in Caria, AD 300-600, Journal of Roman Studies 89 (1999) 155-89.
Herakles and Antaios at Aphrodisias in Caria, in Periplous: Essays for Sir John Boardman (Ed. G. R. Tsetskhladze, A. M. Snodgrass, A. J. N. Prag. London & New York, 1999) 299-308
Art Theory and Criticism in Antiquity, in M. Kemp (ed) Oxford History of Western Art (Oxford, 1999) 58-61.
Archeological Research at Aphrodisias in Caria, 1997 and 1998, American Journal of Archeology 104 (2000) 221-53, with C. Ratte.
Nero and the Sun-god: Divine Accessories and Political Symbols in Roman Imperial Images, Journal of Roman Archaeology 13 (2000) 532-42.
The Use of Images: Visual History and Ancient History, in T. P. Wiseman (ed), Classics in Progress: Essays on Ancient Greece and Rome (London, British Academy, forthcoming).
'Pindar, athletes, and the early Greek statue habit', in S. Hornblower, C. Morgan (eds), Pindar's Poetry, Patrons, and Festivals: from Archaic Greece to the Roman Empire (Oxford University Press 2007), 83-139.
'Statue life in the Hadrianic Baths at Aphrodisias, AD 100-600: Local context and historical meaning', in F.A. Bauer, C. Witschel (eds), Statuen in der Spaetantike (Wiesbaden 2007), 203-235, pls. 50-68, figs. 1-42.
'Archaeological Research at Aphrodisias in Caria, 2002-2005', American Journal of Archaeology 112 (2008), with C. Ratte, 713-51, figs. 1-34.
'Sarcophagi and Roman citizenship', in C. Ratte, R.R.R. Smith (eds), Aphrodisias Papers 4: New Research on the City and its Monuments (JRA Supplement 70; Providence, RI 2008), 347-94, figs. 1-87.