Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology

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For All Prospective Students

The faculty and students in the department welcome inquiries and visits from students interested in applying to Bryn Mawr College, and to students interested in majoring in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology.  We recommend that, in addition to contacting the Admissions Office and taking a tour of the college, you arrange to meet with faculty members, attend some classes, and talk with current undergraduate majors.  You will also want to see our facilities: the excellent library, study and classroom in the Carpenter Library and the Ella Riegel Archaeological Collection.

For Prospective Graduate Students

Table of Contents (click to go to section desired)

A Brief Description
Student Body
Language Requirements
Seminar Offerings
Cooperative Arrangements
Financial Aid
A Brief History of the Department
Graduate Student Symposia

Extract of Requirements from the Graduate Handbook

Arranging a Visit

Faculty in the Department

A Brief Description
The Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology offers a fully supported graduate program.  It is part of the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics and History of Art.  Each of these departments has a distinguished tradition and strong national standing, and interdisciplinary study is encouraged by the faculty.  The graduate curriculum in archaeology stresses both breadth and depth of study and prepares students for successful careers in a variety of fields, including teaching, research, publishing, and work in museums and foundations.

Student Body
The department normally accepts from three to six students per year.  At present there are approximately 25 registered graduate students, making the department one of the largest in the United States.  The size is a special asset, as the large number sustains a community that extends outside the classroom and beyond the academic year, for example, through fieldwork activity in the summer.  Students are usually resident three or four years at the college.  Some live in graduate housing, while others choose to live off-campus. Initially all students are accepted into the two-year M.A. program.  The third year and fourth years in residence are usually given to finishing coursework; preparing for and completing preliminary examinations for the doctorate, which require four special fields of study; and beginning work on the doctoral thesis.  Two years are then frequently spent abroad taking part in programs such as that of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens or the American Academy in Rome, and researching the doctoral dissertation.


Graduate instruction takes the form of seminars and tutorial units of supervised study.  Additionally, the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics, and History of Art annually offers interdisciplinary seminars (GSEMs) taught jointly by professors in the three departments. The Graduate Advisor, in consultation with each student and the faculty, helps the student design a course of study that provides breadth of training as well as specialized preparation in his or her chosen areas of emphasis.  Depending on their major fields, students normally pursue appropriate language study in ancient Greek or Latin at Bryn Mawr, or in Akkadian and Sumerian at the University of Pennsylvania.  Appropriate coursework in history and art history is also advised.

Language Requirements
Language requirements are as follows.  For the M.A., reading competence in French and German is mandatory and is measured by examinations which are set twice a year.  For the Ph.D., competence in an appropriate ancient language can be demonstrated by examination or by successful coursework at Bryn Mawr or the University of Pennsylvania.

Seminar Offerings

Graduate seminars offer different approaches: some are focused on study of the sites and artifacts from specific periods and others on thematic issues of method and theory of interpretation, and yet others cross geographic boundaries to study interconnections among different societies.

Seminars offered in 2007-2008 are:

Fall 2007:

610: Greek Architecture (Wright)
625: Historiography of Ancient Art (Donohue)
(GSEM) 679: Rome and Its Representation (Kinney, Scott)

Spring 2008:

619: Topics in Hellenistic Archaeology: Greek Cultic and Commemorative Monuments (Webb)

692: Archaeology of the Achaemenid Era (Magee)

The following seminars have been offered in recent years:

Architectural Sculpture (Webb)

Macedonian Archaeology (Miller-Collett)

(GSEM) Public Space (Wright, Hein)

Early Iron Age in the Aegean (Wright)

(GSEM) History and Memory (Saltzman, Kale)

Ancient Greece and the Near East (Ataç)

Column of Trajan (Webb)

Pompeii (Webb)

Kingship and Early States (Ataç)

(GSEM): Iconography (Ataç, Kinney, Hamilton)

Method and Theory (Wright)

Mystery Cults (Wright)

Greek Sanctuaries (Miller-Collett)

Problems in Greek Art (Naturalism) (Donohue)

The Concept of Style (Donohue)

The Interpretation of Programs of Greek Architectural Sculpture (Donohue)

Athenian Topography (Miller-Collett)

The Acropolis of Athens (Miller-Collett)

Greek Identity (Brennan, Donohue, Miller-Collett)

The Origins of the Greek Polis (Wright)

Macedonian Archaeology (Miller-Collett)

Problems in Hellenistic Archaeology (Miller-Collett)

Monumental Painting and Mosaics (Miller-Collett)

Classical Conceptions of the Human Figure (Donohue)

Issues in Greek Vase Painting (Miller-Collett)

The Idea of the Monument (Donohue)

The Early Bronze Age in the Aegean: the Cyclades and the Mainland (Wright)

Early and Middle Minoan Crete (Wright)

Neo- and Post Palatial Crete (Wright)
The Shaft Graves, Thera and Neo-Palatial Crete (Wright)

The Mycenaeans (Wright)

Middle Helladic and Early Mycenaean Archaeology (Wright)

Case Studies in Mortuary Analysis (Wright)

Ethnicity in Near Eastern Archaeology (staff)

Methods of Comparative Chronology (staff)

Method and Theory in Archaeology (staff)

Hittite Archaeology and History (staff)

Style Analysis of Ceramics (Magee)

Syro-Hittite Sites and Their Art (Ellis)

Problems in the Archaeology of Mesopotamia (Ellis)

Analysis of Ceramics (staff)

Organization and Planning of Near Eastern Cities (Ellis)

The Art of the Assyrians (Ellis)

The Achaemenids and Persians (Ellis)

Cooperative Arrangements
Through a cooperative arrangement with the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University, students in the three institutions may take courses at the others.  At Temple courses are offered in the Department of Art History, and at Penn in several departments, including Oriental Languages, Art History, Classics, and Anthropology.  Penn also offers special facilities at the University Museum, with its exceptional world-wide collection of archaeological and ethnographic materials, and at MASCA, its center for scientific analysis of archaeological materials.  Within reasonable distance are also the facilities of Princeton University, the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, in Baltimore, the Walters Art Museum.

Financial Aid
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers a variety of forms of financial awards and financial aid to students, ranging from guaranteed support for three years (tuition stipend, and a summer grant) to government loans and on-campus employment.  We feel strongly that students should be able to spend their time focused on their study and therefore prefer to see that every student receives some kind of funding.  Traditionally our students have been successful in winning awards ranging from Mellon and Jacob Javits Fellowships to Fulbright and Canada Council fellowships, and other fellowships at centers of study abroad.  We encourage students to pursue outside sources throughout their tenure in the department.

There are two teaching assistantships for the undergraduate courses.  These positions are normally held for two years.  A Graduate Assistantship is also appointed annually.

A Brief History of the Department

The department traces its origins to the founding of the College in 1885. It assumed its status as an independent department in 1914 with the appointment of Rhys Carpenter, after whom the award-winning new (1997) art and archaeology library is named.  Its approximately 125,000 volumes and 500 periodical titles support research in archaeology, history of art, classics, and urban studies.  Additional materials relating to these fields are held in Canaday Library, the main library of the College (over 500,000 volumes and 1,250 periodicals), which also houses the collection of rare books and manuscripts.  The department also shares with the programs in art history and urban studies an exceptionally large and diverse image collection that is used for teaching and research.  The Ella Riegel Memorial Study Collection holds an excellent and wide-ranging teaching collection of over 6,000 artifacts that permits students to work at first hand on such objects as coins, Near Eastern seals, Greek and Roman pottery, and prehistoric and historic pottery from much of the Mediterranean area, including specific collections from individual excavated sites. Students are also regularly hired as collection management assistants and work with the College's Curator of Collections.

The department has always been active in fieldwork that has provided training grounds and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.  Excavation projects that are presently in the stage of publication are Gritille in Turkey (Richard Ellis) and the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project in Greece (James Wright).  Peter Magee is co-director of the Akra Excavation in North West Frontier Province, Pakistan, and director of the Australian Excavation in Muweilah in the United Arab Emirates, where he is taking students as team members in an expedition over winter break.  A recent initiative is the Tarsus Regional Project, jointly sponsored by Bryn Mawr College and Bogaziçi University in Istanbul, including the investigation of the Gözlü Kule mound at Tarsus and its vicinity; a regional survey and geomorphological examination are being undertaken in preparation for excavation.

The graduate students sponsor the annual C. Densmore Curtis lecture.  In 1997 the graduate students of the Department also initiated a program of biannual graduate symposia, which are now sponsored together with the students in Greek and Latin and the History of Art.  The symposia bring together graduate students from institutions throughout the United States.  The next symposium will take place in October 2007.

Graduate Student Symposia

1997: All for One or One for All? (Re)constructing Identity in the Ancient World

1999: Decline: All Good Things Must Come to an End?

2001: Amateur or Professional: Experts, Dabblers, Hirelings and Hacks

2003: Head to Toe: (un)covering the Human Body

2005: After Death and Afterlife: The End or Beginning?

2007: To the Ends of the Earth: Journeys Ancient to Modern


An undergraduate major in archaeology or at least two courses in archaeology or ancient art combined with a major in history of art, anthropology, Greek, Latin or ancient history.  It is expected that students of classical archaeology will have a basic knowledge of Greek, Latin and ancient history, and a reading knowledge of German, French (or Italian).  For students of Near Eastern archaeology the prerequisites are ancient history and a reading knowledge of German and French (or Italian); some preliminary study of an ancient Near Eastern language is desired.  Each applicant will be judged individually on its aims and soundness of preparation.  All applicants must submit scores in the aptitute test of the Graduate Record Examinations.

Extract of Requirements from the Graduate Handbook

Program and Examinations for the M.A.

Six units of work in the Department of Archaeology or in archaeology and an allied field; a research paper prepared under the supervision of a departmental advisor or two special papers prepared in consultation with faculty of the department; three hours of written examination concerning the field in which the research paper was undertaken; one hour of oral examination to discuss the results.  This M.A. is prerequisite for the Ph.D. program and will normally take two years to complete.  First-year students take two units of the Graduate Intensive Survey.

Program and Examinations for the Ph.D.

After completion of the M.A. program, students continue to take seminars and supervised work in preparation for the preliminary examinations and the Ph. D. dissertation.  A program of study is designed for each individual student in consultation with the department.  Four special fields of study (one of which may be an allied field) are prepared for the preliminary examinations.  The examinations consist of four four-hour papers and an oral examination.

All graduate students are encouraged to spend their third or fourth year of graduate study abroad.  Students in classical archaeology are advised to spend a year at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.  Students of Near Eastern archaeology will be advised to attend a center of archaeological research in their area of concentration.  Museums in Europe and the Near East should be visited in the course of the year(s) spent abroad.  Participation in the excavations under the auspices of Bryn Mawr College or other schools is arranged when possible.

Depending upon individual study programs, the preliminary examinations are normally taken at the end of the third or in the course of the fourth year of graduate study.

Arranging a Visit
Students interested in applying to the program are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to visit the campus.  Please contact the departmental secretary, Ms. Pamela Cohen at (610) 526-5053, e-mail or Ms. Margaret Kelly at (610) 526-5334, e-mail to make arrangements for a visit.  Please note that during the academic year 2007-2008, the college is on break between October 12 and October 21, December 22 and January 20, and March 7 and March 16.

Faculty in the Department

James C. Wright, Professor and Chair: Aegean Prehistory and Greek Archaeology

A. A. Donohue, Professor and Acting Graduate Advisor: History and Historiography of Greek and Roman Art

Peter Magee, Associate Professor and Major Advisor: Archaeology of Iran, Arabia and Pakistan

Mehmet-Ali Ataç, Assistant Professor: Archaeology of the Ancient Near East and Egypt (on leave 2007-2008)

Pamela A. Webb, Visiting Associate Professor 2004-2008: Greek and Hellenistic Art, Architecture and Archaeology

Richard Ellis, Professor emeritus: Near Eastern Archaeology

Stella Miller-Collett, Professor emerita: Ancient Painting, Greek and Roman Archaeology, Macedonian Archaeology

Brunilde S. Ridgway, Professor emerita: Greek and Roman Sculpture, and Roman Archaeology

Department website:

Graduate program website:

Back to Table of Contents

Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology
Bryn Mawr College • 101 North Merion Avenue • Bryn Mawr, PA  19010-2899   (Directions)
Phone: (610) 526-5053/5334,   Fax: (610) 526-7955
Email: Pam Cohen
or Margaret Kelly