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Roaf studied the archaeology of Western Asia at University College of London, and wrote his doctoral thesis, Sculptures and Sculptors at Persepolis (published 1983) at the University of Oxford. From 1981 to 1985 he was the director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq. He also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Munich.
Roaf has conducted fieldwork in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Bahrain. In Iran he dug at Tepe Nush-i Jan under the direction of David Stronach, with whom he wrote Nush-i Jan I. The Major Buildings of the Median Settlement. With the Munich University team, he has recently worked on the archaeological expeditions at Gircano and Ziyaret Tepe, ancient Tushhan, Turkey.
- Sculptures and Sculptors at Persepolis (1983) - doctoral thesis. Published in full in Iran: Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies vol. XXI, 1983.
- The Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East (1990) - divulgation.
- Continuity of Empire (?): Assyria, Media, Persia (2003) - Proceedings of the International Meeting held in Padova, 2001; ed. with Giovanni Lanfranchi and Robert Rollinger.
- "Nush-i Jan I : the major buildings of the Median settlement / by David Stronach & Michael Roaf". National Library of Australia. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
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