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Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology

Students may complete a major or minor in classical and Near Eastern archaeology. Within the major, students may complete a concentration in geoarchaeology.


Mehmet Ali Ataç, Assistant Professor
Geoffrey Compton, Instructor
Alice A. Donohue, Professor (on leave 2005-06)
Peter Magee, Assistant Professor and Major Adviser
Stella Miller-Collett, Professor and Acting Chair, semester II
Pamela A. Webb, Visiting Associate Professor
James C. Wright, Professor and Chair (on leave semester II)

The curriculum of the department focuses on the cultures of the Mediterranean regions and the Near East in antiquity. Courses treat aspects of society and material culture of these civilizations as well as issues of theory, method and interpretation.

Major Requirements

The major requires a minimum of 10 courses. Core requirements are Archaeology 101 and 102, one course in history and two semesters of the senior conference. Additional requirements are determined in consultation with the major adviser. Additional coursework in subjects related to archaeology may be offered in the departments of anthropology, geology, growth and structure of cities, Hebrew and Judaic studies, history of art, and Greek, Latin and classical studies.

Each student’s course of study to meet major requirements will be determined in consultation with the undergraduate major adviser in the spring semester of the sophomore year. Students considering majoring in the department are encouraged to take the introductory courses early in their undergraduate career and should also seek advice from departmental faculty. Students who are interested in interdisciplinary concentrations or in spending a junior year abroad are strongly advised to seek assistance in planning their major early in their sophomore year.

Concentration in Geoarchaeology

The departments of anthropology, classical and Near Eastern archaeology, and geology offer a concentration in geoarchaeology, which allows students majoring in these fields to explore how our human ancestors interacted with past environments, and how traces of human behavior are preserved in the physical environment. Please consult with Professor Magee regarding this program.

Requirements for the Concentration:

A. Two 100-level units from anthropology, archaeology or geology, of which one must be from the dept outside the student’s major. Possibilities include Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology 101, Anthropology 101, Geology 101, Geology 102 or Geology103.

B. Anthropology/Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology/Geology 270: Geoarchaeology (Magee, Barber).

C. Biology/Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology/Geology 328: Geospatial Data Analysis and GIS (Compton).

D. Two elective courses, to be chosen in consultation with the major advisor, from among current offerings in anthropology, classical and Near Eastern archaeology and ceology. One of these two courses must be from outside the student’s major. Suggested courses include but are not limited to Anthropology 203 (Human Ecology), Anthropology 220 (Methods and Theory), Anthropology 225 (Paleolithic Archaeology), Anthropology 240 (Traditional Technologies), Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology 308 (Ceramic Analysis), Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology 332 (Field Techniques), Geology 202 (Mineralogy), Geology 205 (Sedimentology), Geology 310 (Geophysics), and Geology 312 (Quaternary Climates).


Students with a GPA of 3.5 in the major may be invited by the faculty to undertake work for honors. A semester-long research project, culminating in a lengthy paper written under the supervision of a member of the department, is required to be considered for honors. Students who are invited to honors may register for a unit of independent study (403) either semester of the senior year. The paper will be read by the advising faculty member and one other member of the department and an oral defense will be scheduled. Honors are granted if the final paper is considered of superior quality (3.3 or above). Honors papers must be submitted by 5 p.m. on the Friday before the last day of classes in the second semester.

Minor Requirements

The minor requires six courses. Core requirements are Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology 101 and 102 in addition to four other courses selected in consultation with the major adviser.


Majors who contemplate graduate study in classical fields should incorporate Greek and Latin into their programs. Those who plan graduate work in Near Eastern or Egyptian may take appropriate ancient languages at the University of Pennsylvania, such as Middle Egyptian, Akkadian and Sumerian. Any student considering graduate study in archaeology should study French and German.


The department strongly encourages students to gain fieldwork experience and assists them in getting positions on field projects in North America and overseas. The department is undertaking three field projects in which undergraduates may be invited to participate.

Professor Peter Magee conducts excavations at Muweilah in the United Arab Emirates. Undergraduate and graduate students in archaeology participate in this project, which usually takes place during the winter break.

Professor James Wright directs the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project in Greece. Currently a collaboration with the Ms. Eva Pappi of the Fourth Inspectorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture is focused on excavating a Mycenaean chamber tomb cemetery in the valley. Fieldwork is anticipated for the summers of 2006-08. Undergraduate and graduate students in archaeology participate in this project, which focuses on excavation techniques, skeletal analysis, and museum studies.

The department is collaborating with Professor Aslı Özyar of Bogaziçi University in Istanbul, in the Tarsus Regional Project, Turkey, sponsored by Bogaziçi University. This is a long-term investigation of the mound at Gözlü Küle at Tarsus, in Cilicia, which was first excavated by Hetty Goldman (Class of 1903). Both undergraduate and graduate students in archaeology participate in this project.

Study Abroad

Study abroad is encouraged if the program is approved by the department. Students are advised to take only one semester abroad. Major credit for courses taken is given on a case-by-case basis after review of the syllabus, work submitted for a grade, and a transcript. Normally credit will not be given for more than one course and not for courses that are ordinarily offered by the department.

ARCH B101 The Uses of the Past: Introduction to Egyptian and Near Eastern Archaeology

A historical survey of the archaeology and art of the ancient Near East, Egypt and the prehistoric Aegean. Three hours of class, one hour of special topics a week. (Ataç, Division III)

ARCH B102 The Uses of the Past: Introduction to Classical Archaeology

A historical survey of the archaeology and art of Greece, Etruria and Rome. Three hours of class, one hour of special topics each week. (Webb, Division III)

ARCH B201 Preclassical Greek Art and Archaeology

The art and archaeology of Greece and its Mediterranean neighbors between the end of the Bronze Age and the Persian invasion (ca. 1100 to 480 B.C.E.), the period which saw the rise of the city-state, the introduction of democracy and the spread of Greek civilization by colonization and trade. The architecture, painting, sculpture and minor arts will be studied with attention to their historical and cultural contexts. (Donohue, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B203 Ancient Greek Cities and Sanctuaries

A study of the development of the Greek city-states and sanctuaries. Archaeological evidence is surveyed in its historic context. The political formation of the city-state and the role of religion is presented, and the political, economic and religious institutions of the city-states are explored in their urban settings. The city-state is considered as a particular political economy of the Mediterranean and in comparison to the utility of the concept of city-state in other cultures. (Wright, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B203) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B205 Greek Sculpture

One of the best-preserved categories of evidence for ancient Greek culture is sculpture. The Greeks devoted immense resources to producing sculpture that encompassed many materials and forms and served a variety of important social functions. This course examines sculptural production in Greece and neighboring lands from the Bronze Age through the fourth century B.C.E. with special attention to style, iconography and historical and social context. (Webb, Division III; cross-listed as HART B204) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B206 Hellenistic and Roman Sculpture

This course surveys the sculpture produced from the fourth century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E., the period beginning with the death of Alexander the Great that saw the transformation of the classical world through the rise of Rome and the establishment and expansion of the Roman Empire. Style, iconography and production will be studied in the contexts of the culture of the Hellenistic kingdoms, the Roman appropriation of Greek culture, the role of art in Roman society and the significance of Hellenistic and Roman sculpture in the post-antique classical tradition. (Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as HART B206) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B209 Aegean Archaeology

The prehistoric cultures of the Aegean area concentrating on Minoan Crete, Troy, the Aegean Islands and Mycenaean Greece. (Wright, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B220 Araby the Blest: The Archaeology of the Arabian Peninsula from 3000 to 300 B.C.E.

A survey of the archaeology and history of the Arabian peninsula focusing on urban forms, transport and cultures in the Arabian peninsula and Gulf and their interactions with the world from the rise of states in Mesopotamia down to the time of Alexander the Great. (Magee).

ARCH B222 Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great achieved heroic status in his own time. This provided a basis for the Alexander mythology that endures to today in the popular media. This course uses archaeological and historical evidence through the centuries to reconstruct the life and afterlife of the figure of Alexander. (Miller-Collett, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B224 Women in the Ancient Near East

A survey of the social position of women in the ancient Near East, from sedentary villages to empires of the first millennium B.C.E. Topics include critiques of traditional concepts of gender in archaeology and theories of matriarchy. Case studies illustrate the historicity of gender concepts: women's work in early village societies; the meanings of Neolithic female figurines; the representation of gender in the Gilgamesh epic; the institution of the "Tawananna" (queen) in the Hittite empire; the indirect power of women such as Semiramis in the Neo-Assyrian palaces. Reliefs, statues, texts and more indirect archaeological evidence are the basis for discussion. (Magee, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B230 Archaeology and History of Ancient Egypt

The cultural, social and political development of Egypt from the beginning of settled communities in the Nile Valley to the end of the New Kingdom (ca. 5000 to 1100 B.C.E.), in both the African and the wider Near Eastern contexts. Emphasizes archaeological remains, but also makes use of documentary evidence. (Ataç, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B233 Great Empires

A survey of the history, material culture, political and religious ideologies of, and interactions among, the five great empires of the ancient Near East of the second and first millennia B.C.E.: New Kingdom Egypt, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia, the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires in Mesopotamia, and the Persian Empire in Iran. Offered in second semester. (Ataç, Division III)

ARCH B238 Land of the Buddha

This course uses archaeological evidence to reconstruct social and economic life in South Asia from ca. 1200 to 0 B.C.E. We examine the roles of religion, economy and foreign trade in the establishment of powerful kingdoms and empires that characterized this region during this period. (Magee, Division III) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B244 Great Empires of the Ancient Near East

A survey of the history, material culture, political and religious ideologies of, and interactions among, the five great empires of the ancient Near East of the second and first millennia B.C.E.: New Kingdom Egypt, the Hittite Empire in Anatolia, the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires in Mesopotamia, and the Persian Empire in Iran. (Ataç, Division I or III; cross-listed as CITY B244, HIST B244 and POLS B244)

ARCH B270 Geoarchaeology

Societies in the past depended on our human ancestors' ability to interact with their environment. Geoarchaeology analyzes these interactions by combining archaeological and geological techniques to document human behavior while also reconstructing the past environment. Course meets twice weekly for lecture, discussion of readings and hands on exercises. Prerequisite: one course in anthropology, archaeology or geology. (Magee, Barber; cross-listed as ANTH B270 and GEOL B270)

ARCH B302 Greek Architecture

The Greek architectural tradition and its historical development. (Webb, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B302 and HART B301) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B303 Classical Bodies

An examination of the conceptions of the human body evidenced in Greek and Roman art and literature, with emphasis on issues that have persisted in the Western tradition. Topics include the fashioning of concepts of male and female standards of beauty and their implications; conventions of visual representation; the nude; clothing and its symbolism; the athletic ideal; physiognomy; medical theory and practice; the visible expression of character and emotions; and the formulation of the "classical ideal" in antiquity and later times. (Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as HART B305) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B305 Ancient Athens: Monuments and Art

Detailed analysis of the monuments, archaeology and art of ancient Athens - the home of such persons as Pericles, Sophocles and Plato. The course considers the art and monuments of ancient Athens against the historical background of the city, and is a case study in understanding the role of archaeology in reconstructing the life and culture of the Athenians. (Miller-Collett; cross-listed as CITY B305)

ARCH B308 Ceramic Analysis

Pottery is a fundamental means of establishing the relative chronology of archaeological sites and of understanding past human behavior. Included are theories, methods and techniques of pottery description, analysis and interpretation. Topics include typology, seriation, ceramic characterization, production, function, exchange and the use of computers in pottery analysis. Laboratory work on pottery in the department collections. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. (Magee, Division I or III)

ARCH B321 The Archaeology of Magna Graecia

Sicily and southern Italy, lying at the center of the Mediterranean, were visited, invaded and colonized by various cultures from the Bronze Age through the Roman Imperial period. The course will examine the native cultures, Mycenaean remains, Phoenician settlements, Greek colonizations and cities, and the Roman conquest. Prerequisite: Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology 102 or equivalent. (Webb)

ARCH B324 Roman Architecture

(Scott, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B324, CITY B324 and HART B324) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B327 Spatial Analysis in Archaeology

The spatial dimensions of social phenomena are critical issues in archaeological theory and method. Sophisticated approaches are employed to document the spatial contexts of past human activities, as the geographic view of space as an inflexible absolute has been replaced by the recognition that space is a social product and that structures, settlements, landscapes and regions are inhabited, organized and perceived by societies and individuals in a multitude of ways. The goal of this course is to introduce students to methods for the qualitative analysis of ancient spaces and the quantitative analysis of the spatial attributes of archaeological data. (Compton, Division I) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B328 Analysis of Geospatial Data

(Compton; cross-listed as BIOL B328 and GEOL B328)

ARCH B332 Archaeological Field Techniques

Learning to excavate, survey and understand resultant information is an important skill for field archaeologists. In this course we review advances in field techniques, conduct mock-surveys and excavations, and analyze data. We also examine how field techniques have affected (or been in response to) shifts in archaeological theory. (Magee, Division I or III) Not offered in 2005-06.

ARCH B351 The Phoenicians

Study of the origins of the Phoenicians in the Late Bronze-early Iron Age and their dispersal throughout the Mediterranean, with special attention to the interactions in the West through the period of the Punic Wars. Prerequisite: Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology 204 or permission of the instructor. (Compton, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B351)

ARCH B398, B399 Senior Seminar A weekly seminar on common topics with assigned readings and oral and written reports. (Magee, Webb)

ARCH B403 Independent Supervision (staff)

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