John Bodel studies ancient Roman social, economic, and cultural history and Latin literature, especially of the empire. Much of his research involves inscriptions, and he has special interests in Roman religion, slavery, funerals and burial customs, ancient writing systems, the editing of Latin epigraphic and literary texts, and Latin prose authors. Since 1995, he has directed the U.S. Epigraphy Project, the purpose of which is to gather information about Greek and Latin inscriptions in the USA.
Current and forthcoming work focuses on tomb gardens, Roman epigraphy and literacy, slave names, the publication of Pliny's letters, muliones and the organization of Roman land transport, the life and death of ancient Roman cemeteries, status dissonance and status dissidents in the equestrian order, death and 'social death' in ancient Rome (on Roman perceptions of the condition of slavery), and the popular reception of élite taste and imperial ideology at Pompeii and Herculaneum.
At the U.S. Epigraphy Project (USEP) Bodel oversees development of an XML-based search engine and photographic archive of the 3,500 ancient Greek and Latin inscriptions cataloged in the online database and participates with an international team of epigraphists in developing a set of guidelines and semantic markup tools for the editing and publication of inscriptions in digital form (EpiDoc).