Program in Ancient History | Department of History | Brown University

Joint Classics-History Ph.D Program in Ancient History

The Ph.D. program in ancient history at Brown is an interdisciplinary program established jointly by the departments of Classics and History to train ancient historians to meet the needs and goals outlined in the follow paragraph .

Background and Goals

A bang-up bequest of the Greco-Roman time period is the inordinately rich supply of important literary textbook ( “ the classics ” ). consequently, from its advanced beginning in the nineteenth Century, the diachronic analyze of antiquity has been dominated by linguistics. From closely that same begin, however, a few scholars have approached the study of ancient history through methodologies of the social sciences ( for example, Max Weber ) or accessory fields such as archeology, epigraphy, and numismatics ( for example, Theodore Mommsen, Michael Rostovtzeff ). inescapably, historians schooled in one area have tended to emphasize that approach over the others, producing a natural bias that inactive divides the discipline. ancient historians trained in classics departments are frequently perceived as besides philological and unfamiliar with methodologies used in history and other social sciences. Those trained in history departments, on the other hand, are often suspected of being insufficient in the classical languages and thus unable to appreciate the nuances of ancient textual sources and polish. Whatever the foundations of such judgments, they discourage desirable syntheses and keep unseasoned ancient historians from fully exploiting available career opportunities. After two centuries, therefore, it seems appropriate to combine the three approaches of linguistics, historical methodologies, and accessory disciplines into a single program of coach in ancient history .
A graduate program that embraces these goals must be able of helping its students achieve a high level of competence in the ancient languages and linguistics ; it must enable them to acquire expertness in the historiographical methodologies used in the fields of history and the relate social sciences ( e.g. demography, statistics, GIS ) ; it must familiarize them with the accessory disciplines of ancient history ( epigraphy, numismatics, archeology, and papyrology ) ; and it must introduce them to other fields that contribute toward a amply comprehensive examination historical view of ancientness ( e.g. religious studies, Egyptology, anthropology, art history ). Most of all, such a program must emphasize the intellectual challenge and excitement of moving among assorted fields, of interdisciplinary interaction and collaboration, and of developing the larger and broader conceptions that can be fostered through comparative history. Students trained as historians and classicists may be expected to be attractive to both types of departments and thus to have broader prospects for a fat career in either .


At show, “ ancient history ” comprises chiefly classical Greek and Roman history, including the history of late antiquity. In the future, the plan will be expanded ( for example, to include the history of the ancient Near East or of the Byzantine empire ) as resources ( specially faculty positions ) allow. Students concern in the comparative history of the ancient universe can pursue coursework and guided research through the Program in Early Cultures.


The program is operated and supervised by a Director of Graduate Studies ( presently Professor Graham Oliver, Classics and History ) in consultation with an Executive Committee comprised of other Brown faculty in Ancient History, presently Professors Graham Oliver, Ken Sacks ( History and Classics ), and Adele Scafuro ( Classics ) ; Associate Professor Jonathan Conant ( History and Classics ) .

Contributing Faculty

Tenured staff contributing to the program, in addition to the ancient historians mentioned previously, are drawn from the departments of Classics : Susan Alcock and John Cherry ( Greek and Roman archeology ), Stratis Papaioannou ( Byzantine world ) ; history : Amy Remensnyder ( european Middle Ages ) ; Egyptology and Ancient West asian Studies : James Allen ( Egyptology ) and John Steele ( Exact Sciences, Mesopotamia ) ; religious Studies : Michael Satlow ( Hellenistic and Roman Judaism ), Ross Kraemer ( Ancient Judaism ), Susan Harvey, and Stan Stowers ( early christianity ) .

Untenured Participating Faculty

  In Classics : Johanna Hanink ( greek cultural history ) ; in Art History : Rebecca Molholt ( ancient art ) ; in religious Studies : Nancy Khalek ( early Islam ) .


Candidates are admitted into the program by either the Classics or the History Department. The admitting department assumes fiscal duty for all candidates it admits to the program. Applicants may apply directly to either department and should make clear that they are applying to the joint Ph.D. program in ancient history .

Criteria for Admission

Candidates are admitted according to the criteria valid in the department to which they apply and in contest with all other applicants to these departments. At the very least, they have to meet the follow criteria : advance level in Latin or Greek ; at least average level in the other ancient language ; reading cognition in one of four modern extraneous languages ( german, french, italian, and Spanish ) that are most important for research in ancient history. Applicants to the broadcast will be screened according to these criteria by the broadcast ’ s staff before the departments make their decision. Students are strongly encouraged to attain these levels before apply ( if necessity, for model, by attending a post-baccalaureate broadcast ) .

Duration and Funding

The platform is designed to take five to six years. Students are funded by the sponsor programs and, when available, through fellowships designated for advanced students in the broadcast.

Course Work

Students will take courses that are tailored to their particular needs. apart from courses in the ancient languages and histories, they will take at least one graduate seminar each semester ( until the preliminary examination is passed ), including at least one history research seminar outside of ancient history and one classics seminar on a nonhistorical author or topic. In addition, they will take, at appropriate times, in the Department of History, the graduate colloquium on diachronic methodologies and ( if available ) a run on hypothesis and/or philosophy of history, and, in the Department of Classics, the proseminar on methodologies and accessory disciplines .

Mandatory MA

There are six basic requirements for the M.A. in ancient history : two view transformation exams, in Greek and Latin literature, based on the read list ; two extensive inquiry papers ; and two modern lyric examination. The scholar must complete three of the four major assignments ( ancient language exams and extensive research papers ) by the startle of the fifth semester, and the other by the depart of the seventh semester. If all four major assignments and both modern language exams are not passed by the begin of the seventh semester, a end M.A. will be awarded .

Additional Requirements

Students in the program are expected to demonstrate, through successful completion of an appropriate path or a written examination, competence in ( a ) one accessory field ( normally epigraphy or archeology ; exceptionally numismatics, papyrology, or artwork history ) and ( b ) two literature/author Classics courses ( including one poetry course or surveil )

Minor Fields

Written and oral exams will be taken in two minor fields : classical literature and a historic field outside of Greco-Roman history .

Reading List

The sight reading lists, focusing on historical authors, is designed to give students guidance as to which authors and works they should read in the original languages. The preliminary examination interpretation lists will comprise standard works of secondary literature with which students should be familiar by the time they take their preliminary examination.

Preliminary Exam

Students are expected to take the preliminary examination by the start of the one-eighth semester. This examination will consist of a three hour oral examination in two major fields : greek history ( from the antediluvian to the conclusion of the Hellenistic period ) and Roman history ( from the get down to Justinian ). There will be one examiner in each field and one presider ; the other members of the Ancient History staff are invited to attend .

Ph.D. Thesis

After passing the preliminary examination, students will choose a dissertation subject in ancient history. The dissertation committee will consist of three faculty who are best able to advise the student on the choose subject ; at least two of these must be among the program ’ s contributing faculty. subsequent to the Preliminary Exam and passed by the begin of the ninth semester, students will present the dissertation prospectus : a substantial try setting forth the problematique, a plan of research, and the bibliography to be read and defended in front of the prospective dissertation committee. The rate will be fail, legislate, high exceed. When completed, the dissertation will be defended in an event that is open to all staff in the sponsor departments and to students in the program .
prospective students are encourage to visit the Classics web site adenine well .

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