BA in Ancient World Studies

This broad, interdisciplinary liberal arts program introduces students to the histories, literatures, and material cultures of the Greeks, Romans, and other related ancient cultures. The study of antiquity has always been fundamental to our understanding of the human condition, as many of the structures, values, and institutions that have shaped the history of humanity were formed in this epoch. Our Ancient World Studies program unifies disciplinary areas like Classical Studies (for the Greco-Roman world), Near Eastern Studies (for western Asia and Egypt), Ancient Chinese studies, and so on, framing the study of the ancient world around  questions of liberty, justice, equity health, race, gender, and the environment, benefiting from new research and scholarship not only in languages, history, and linguistics, but in anthropology, archaeology, art history, economics, political science, sociology, and the natural sciences.

Ancient World Studies is also a particularly good laboratory for the study of diversity, along many dimensions — not just ethnic and racial, but linguistic, political, and ethical. For example, all ancient societies, whether organized into cities or as peoples scattered across a common homeland, had forms of political and social organization that anthropologists, political scientists, philosophers, and sociologists, have recognized as part of the fundamental structures of humanity across time and space.  Observation of those diverse communities lets us see what has worked, what hasn’t, and why. Many of the societies we study practiced slavery, but with notably different social and legal boundaries between enslavement and freedom from those found in the modern period. Some of these societies had a strong code of honor, a shame culture in anthropological terms, within which their principles and values are somewhat different from those of modern Western societies, so that some behaviors, entirely appropriate in their social context, seem almost irrational to people who aren’t familiar with that context. In Ancient World Studies, a breadth of human experience is available for study.

Although we call the major “Ancient World Studies,” it should also be noted that part of our field, and in particular part of the existing teaching and research work within our department, involves study of the continuing relevance and legacy of these cultures in the modern world. This can include everything from 18th-century musical settings of first-century Roman lyrics, to movie re-tellings of the Trojan War stories, to games and puzzles built around Egyptian pyramids.

Course Requirements

Specific Requirements (8 courses total)

  • Two courses in ancient literature, either in English (CLS listings) or in the original languages (LAT, GRK, SKT) beyond the 3rd semester. Survey courses (CLS 31, GRK 131, CLS 32, LAT 132) are particularly recommended.
  • Two courses in ancient history (Greece, Rome, Egypt, the Near East, China, Gaul, North Africa, West Africa, or elsewhere), either in English or in the original languages beyond the third semester. Higher-level courses, and courses on historians given in the original language, will also be accepted for this requirement.
  • Two courses in the material cultures or archaeologies of the ancient world.
  • One course on the religion, mythology, or philosophy of one or more ancient cultures.
  • One comparative course. Courses that satisfy this requirement do not just look at two or more societies separately (for example, with a unit on one followed by a unit on another), but explicitly compare the history, languages, political systems, medicine, science, performance practices, or other characteristics of two or more societies. These may be two ancient cultures or an ancient one and a more recent one.

General Requirements, Including Double-counting

  • At least two 100-level courses, which may include courses taken to satisfy the specific requirements.
  • At least four courses dealing with a single ancient culture, ideally including the comparative course; these courses may overlap with the more specific requirements.
  • Most of the courses taken for the specific requirements must be distinct: no more than 2 courses can be double-counted.
  • As many other courses as are necessary to reach 10 courses and 30 semester hours. These may include language courses (GRK, LAT, SKT, or other ancient languages) beyond the 3rd semester. They may include up to 2 courses in related fields given in English; the department must approve any related fields courses.