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Master of Arts: Classical Archaeology and Material Culture

The Department of Classics administers a Master of Arts degree in Classics with a focus in Classical Archaeology and Material Culture. This track emphasizes the study of the material culture of the Greek and Roman cultures rather than the study of the languages and literature of the Greek and Roman cultures (the emphasis of the “Languages and Literature” track). The degree provides training for several career paths. With its coursework in material culture, theory, and languages (students must demonstrate competency in either Greek or Latin), this MA track prepares students for PhD work in classical archaeology and in related disciplines (recent trends suggest that those with the MA degree are more competitive applicants for PhD programs than candidates without MA degrees). The archaeology track prepares students not only for careers in classical archaeology but also for careers in related disciplines. For example, the track may be a helpful conduit in preparing students for law school, especially for those interested in Art and Cultural Heritage Law. It can also lead to successful careers in museum work or in professions dealing with public policy and heritage management. For example, training in archaeological methodology makes students attractive employees as archaeologists for the Bureau of Land Management. This MA track also provides excellent training for those looking to become educators in schools.

Learning Objectives (L.O.):

  1. Students will acquire a broad understanding of the sites and material culture of the ancient world. The historical Greek and Roman cultures will be emphasized, but other cultures studied may include Egyptian, Near Eastern, Mycenaean, and Minoan.
  2. Students will examine the material culture of the classical world with the understanding that behind the tangible material products of these cultures are social, political, religious, and political contexts that interact with the material culture in important ways.
  3. Students will see the Mediterranean region as a place where different cultures interacted. As such, theoretical studies that seek to explain particular cultures’ emulation of, and resistance to, external cultures will be examined.
  4. Students will develop an understanding of research methods in Classical Archaeology and will develop familiarity with the major scholarly journals and scholarly online sources.
  5. Students will be able to work with Greek and/or Latin, as well as with one modern foreign language commonly used in scholarship (German, French, or Italian).
  6. For those students who are interested in becoming field archaeologists, summer field experience will be a priority. Students will enroll in Classics 609 (Practicum in Feld Archaeology) and, during excavation season(s), will acquire practical knowledge of the methodology of field studies, in particular that of stratigraphic excavation and site survey. The recording of data—with SU/locus sheets, photography, planning, Harris Matrices, and the writing of excavation reports—will also be stressed.


  1. Complete at least 45 credits of graduate course work, which must include:                                                                                Introduction to Philological Methods (Classics 611)At least 8 credits in Classics 507 courses when Classics 507 is devoted to a topic in archaeology and material culture (Classics 507 is to be repeated with change in topic).At least 4 credits in a 500 level art history course (to be chosen from Art History 507 [when on relevant topics; see note under course listing below], 510, 524, 528).At least 4 credits in a 500 level anthropology course (to be chosen from Anthropology 526, 545, 546, 548, 571). Students are encouraged to take multiple classes from the anthropology department since classical archaeology, as a discipline, is now steeped in interdisciplinary work with anthropology.At least 9 credits in 600-699 level courses taken in residence (in addition to the mandatory Classics 611, these may be chosen from Classics 607, 609, Anthropology 681, 685, 688, 689, Art History 611, History 612).
  2. Complete the general MA requirements stipulated by the Graduate School:
  3. Pass with a grade of mid-B or better two courses in Greek and/or Latin authors (these are to be chosen from Greek 511 and/or Latin 511 course offerings).
  4. Complete surveys of Greek history (HIST 512) and Roman history (HIST 514). Students who have taken undergraduate courses in Greek and/or Roman history may petition to have this requirement waived.
  5. Pass a translation examination in one modern language (German, French, or Italian). This requirement may be fulfilled with a standardized examination offered by the university or by the successful translation of a significant scholarly text related to the student’s scholarly discipline. The second manner of test will be administered within the Classics department.
  6. Choose ONE of the following two plans for completing the master of arts degree in Classics, with a focus on classical archaeology and material culture:

Plan 1: Write a thesis. At least 9 credits of Thesis 503 must be completed and may be counted toward the 45-credit minimum. Satisfactory completion of the thesis includes an oral defense.

Plan 2: Compile a portfolio of two research essays (40-50 pages total). The candidate develops, expands, and revises work written for graduate seminars or researches and writes on a topic of interest to him or her. The candidate turns in the ‘portfolio’ work that is written, such that it be written at the level of a MA thesis. This option is provided so that students may work on two discrete topics of interest that may not fit well together within the traditional MA thesis frame.

This MA track in Classical Archaeology and Material Culture differs from the track in Languages and Literatures in that students are not offered the Languages and Literatures Plan 3 of fulfilling their MA requirements, namely through exams focused on the translation of Greek and Latin texts and on the writing of essays based on Greek and Roman literature. Similarly, the course work is different, since students in Classical Archaeology and Material Culture will not have the study of literature and language as their primary focus. Accordingly, students in the Languages and Literatures track will have the study of Greek and/or Latin as a primary focus, while students of Archaeology and Material Culture will have the study of Greek and/or Latin as a subsidiary focus. The differences in plan options and course requirements derive from the different goals that the MA tracks have.

Additional information may be obtained from the Classics Department.

The deadline for the admission application is March 1.

Course Options Within Classics:

Classics 503: Thesis

Classics 507: Various seminars on topics related to Classical Archaeology and Material Culture. These include: Classics 507: Archaeology of Iron Age Italy (1000-300 BCE); Classics 507: The Etruscans; Classics 507: Pompeii.

Classics 601: Research

Classics 605: Reading and Conference

Classics 607: Topics in Classical Archaeology

Classics 609: Practicum: Field Excavation

External Courses:

Anthropology 526: Anthropology of Colonialism (Satisfies L.O. 3 by providing theoretical frameworks for studying Greek colonization and Roman imperialism.)

Anthropology 545: Archaeology of Cultural Landscapes (Satisfies L.O. 2 by offering ways to think about the Classical landscape and monuments (religious, political) as a locus for cultural mediation and declarations of hegemony.)

Anthropology 546: Practical Archeobotany (Satisfies L.O. 6 by training students in recognizing botanical remains found in excavations.)

Anthropology 548: Gender and Archaeology (Satisfies L.O. 2 and 3 by providing various theoretical approaches in dealing with material culture and gender.)

Anthropology 571: Zooarchaeology (Satisfies L.O. 6 by training students in recognizing faunal remains found in excavations.)

Anthropology 681: Archaeology and Anthropology (Satisfies L.O. 2 by giving the students a strong foundation in theoretical approaches to the study of material culture.)

Anthropology 685: Professional Writing

Anthropology 688: Social Theory I (Satisfies L.O. 3 by providing an introduction about crucial topics in social theory that apply to the ancient Mediterranean world (post-colonialism, power, difference).)

Anthropology 689: Social Theory II (Satisfies L.O. 3 by continuing an introduction about crucial topics in social theory that apply to the ancient Mediterranean world (post-colonialism, power, difference).)

Art History 507 (Seminar) or 510 (Experimental Course); to be         taken if the course is related to ancient Mediterranean art and/or archaeology (recent offerings include, the Parthenon Frieze; Gender, Ethnicity, and Status in Greek and Roman Art and Architecture (Satisfies L.O. 1 by focusing on sites, monuments, and material culture specific to the ancient Mediterranean world.)

Art History 524: Classical Greek Art (Satisfies L.O. 1 by focusing on sites, monuments, and material culture specific to the ancient Mediterranean world.)

Art History 528: Roman Architecture (Satisfies L.O. 1 by focusing on sites, monuments, and material culture specific to the ancient Mediterranean world.)

Art History 611: Graduate Studies in Art History (Satisfies L.O. 2 by providing the student with theoretical tools for “reading” the material culture (including art) of the ancient Mediterranean world.)

History 512: Ancient Greece

History 514: Ancient Rome

History 612: Historical Methods and Writings