Graduate Program

Ancient History at Yale

Historians at Yale have been at the forefront of research into and writing about the ancient world for more than a century, and the wealth of resources for the study of ancient history in the university’s libraries and museums reflects the richness of this tradition: a numismatic collection unparalleled in North American academia, an extensive collection of Greek, Demotic, Coptic and Arabic papyri housed in the world-renowned Beinecke Library, and diverse and extraordinary archaeological material from the excavations at the eastern Roman city (and former Seleucid foundation) of Dura Europos now on display in the Yale Art Gallery.

Rooted firmly in this tradition of pioneering excellence, Ancient History at Yale remains on the cutting edge of an exciting and rapidly changing field, one whose boundaries — intellectual and spatial — are continually widening in their scope. The current ancient historians in the department push these boundaries, with interests and expertise spanning the Greek and Roman worlds from the Iberian Peninsula to the Ganges Delta and the First Cataract of the Nile River, from Cicero to the Silk Road, and from the Archaic period through Late Antiquity. Our questions and approaches tackle problems in social, economic, political, and cultural history.

Students in the Ancient History program at Yale are thus exposed not only to a broad chronological and geographical vision of antiquity, but also to the full complement of methodologies in the ancient historian’s toolkit, both the textual — incorporating literature and historiography, papyrology, and epigraphy — and the material — including archaeology and numismatics. Among the major points of emphasis in the program are interdisciplinarity, theory, and comparative thinking, all of which we consider vital to the study of ancient history and the furthering of the discipline.

Sterling libraryAt Yale, there is a vibrant and active community of historically minded scholars who frequently gather to exchange ideas through workshops, colloquia, conferences, and guest lectures, the most prominent of which is the annual Rostovtzeff lecture and colloquium held each November. Students thus have an array of opportunities virtually every week of the academic year to hear lectures and presentations by leading scholars, and to present their own work as well.

Abroad, there are opportunities for students in Ancient History to gain archaeological field experience through participation in the Gabii Project outside of Rome, and the generous Rostovtzeff funds provide support to visit ancient sites in the Mediterranean and beyond. Students are strongly encouraged to engage with the wider intellectual community through presenting their work at international meetings: for example, three graduate students have had papers accepted at the International Congress of Papyrology to be held in Warsaw in the summer of 2013.

Combined with the best in language training and with opportunities to teach Greek and Latin at the beginning and intermediate levels and also to serve as a teaching fellow for courses in, among other subjects, Classical Greek History, Hellenistic History, the Roman Republic and Roman Empire, the program in Ancient History provides a strong foundation for the further pursuit of an academic career in either Classics or History departments.

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