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Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology

Students may complete a major or minor in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology.


Mehmet Ali Ataç, Assistant Professor (on leave 2007-08)
A. A. Donohue, Professor
Peter Magee, Associate Professor and Major Adviser
Pamela A. Webb, Visiting Associate Professor
James C. Wright, Professor and Chair

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 two 100-level courses distributed between the ancient Near East and Egypt and ancient Greece and Rome 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 accepted for major credit; such courses are offered in the Departments of Anthropology, Geology, Growth and Structure of Cities, 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 study abroad during the junior year 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 for existing majors in these departments. Please consult with Professor Magee regarding this program.

Requirements for the Concentration:

  1. Two 100-level units from Anthropology, Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology or Geology, of which one must be from the department outside the student's major..
  2. ANTH/ARCH/GEOL 270: Geoarchaeology (Magee, Barber).
  3. BIOL/ARCH/GEOL 328: Geospatial Data Analysis and GIS (staff).
  4. Two elective courses, to be chosen in consultation with the major adviser, from among current offerings in Anthropology, Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology and Geology. One of these two courses must be from outside the student's major. Suggested courses include but are not limited to ANTH 203 (Human Ecology), ANTH 220 (Methods and Theory), ANTH 225 (Paleolithic Archaeology), ANTH 240 (Traditional Technologies), ARCH 308 (Ceramic Analysis), ARCH 332 (Field Techniques), GEOL 202 (Mineralogy), GEOL 205 (Sedimentology), GEOL 310 (Geophysics), and GEOL 312 (Quaternary Climates).


Honors are granted on the basis of academic performance as demonstrated by a cumulative average of 3.5 or better in the major.

Independent Research

Majors who wish to undertake independent research, especially for researching and writing a lengthy paper, should arrange with a professor who is willing to advise them, and consult with the major adviser. Such research normally would be conducted by seniors as a unit of independent study (403).

Minor Requirements

The minor requires six courses. Core requirements are two 100-level courses distributed between the ancient Near East and Egypt and ancient Greece and Rome 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 several field projects in which undergraduates may be invited to participate.

Professor Peter Magee conducts a for-credit field school at Muweilah, al-Hamriya and Tell Abraq 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 Professor R. Angus Smith (Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College, 2002) of Brock University in Canada and under the auspices of the Canadian Institute in Greece, the project is focused on excavating a Mycenaean chamber tomb cemetery in the valley during 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 Asli Özyar (Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College, 1991) 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, A.B. 1903. Both undergraduate and graduate students in archaeology participate in this project.

Study Abroad

A semester of study abroad is encouraged if the program is approved by the department. 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 B104 Archaeology of Agricultural and Urban Revolutions From Egypt to India

This course examines the archaeology of the two most fundamental changes that have occurred in human society in the last 12,000 years, agriculture and urbanism, and we explore these in Egypt and the Near East as far as India. We also explore those societies that did not experience these changes. (Magee, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B104)

ARCH B110 The World Through Classical Eyes

A survey of the ways in which the ancient Greeks and Romans perceived and constructed their physical and social world. The evidence of ancient texts and monuments will form the basis for exploring such subjects as cosmology, geography, travel and commerce, ancient ethnography and anthropology, the idea of natural and artificial wonders, and the self-definition of the classical cultures in the context of the oikoumene, the “inhabited world.” (Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B110)

ARCH B115 Classical Art

An introduction to the visual arts of ancient Greece and Rome from the Bronze Age through Late Imperial times (circa 3,000 B.C.E. to 300 C.E.). Major categories of artistic production are examined in historical and social context, including interactions with neighboring areas and cultures; methodological and interpretive issues are highlighted. (Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B115, CSTS B115 and HART B115)

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 (circa 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)

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)

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. (Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as HART B204) Not offered in 2007-08.

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 2007-08.

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. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2007-08.

ARCH B228 The Archaeology of Iran : From the Neolithic to Alexander the Great

Examines the Archaeology of Iran and its eastern neighbors from circa 8000 B.C.E. to the coming of Alexander at the end of the 4th century B.C.E. Focus on the emergence of agriculture and urbanism and the appearance of the Achaemenid Empire, examined in the light of contacts with states in Mesopotamia and South Asia and the abilities of the ancient inhabitants of Iran to exploit their environment. (Magee) Not offered in 2007-08.

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 (circa 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 2007-08.

ARCH B240 Archaeology and History of Ancient Mesopotamia

A survey of the material culture of ancient Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, from the earliest phases of state formation (circa 3500 B.C.E.) through the Achaemenid Persian occupation of the Near East (circa 331 B.C.E.). Emphasis will be on art, artifacts, monuments, religion, kingship and the cuneiform tradition. The survival of the cultural legacy of Mesopotamia into later ancient and Islamic traditions will also be addressed. (Ataç, Division III) Not offered in 2007-08.

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 III; cross-listed as CITY B244, HIST B244 and POLS B244) Not offered in 2007-08.

ARCH B252 Pompeii

Introduces students to a nearly intact archaeological site whose destruction by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 C.E. was recorded by contemporaries. The discovery of Pompeii in the mid-1700's had an enormous impact on 18th and 19th century views of the Roman past as well as styles and preferences of the modern era. Informs students in classical antiquity, urban life, city structure, residential architecture; home decoration and furnishing, wall painting, minor arts and craft and mercantile activities within a Roman city. (Webb, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B259)

ARCH B255 Sport and Spectacle in Ancient Greece and Rome

Sport and spectacle in ancient Greece and Rome and how they compare to the institutions of education and sport in modern society. Topics are the Olympic games and other sanctuaries with athletic competitions, the built structures for athletics (stadium, gymnasium, baths, amphitheaters, circuses, and hippodrome) and spectacles, such as gladiatorial combat. (Scott, Wright, Division III; cross-listed as CITY B260, CSTS B255 and HIST B285)

ARCH B263 Roman Archaeology

The art and architecture of Rome from the Republic through the Empire in Europe, North Africa and the Near East . (Webb, Division III) Not offered in 2007-08.

ARCH B268 Greek and Roman Architecture

The course will introduce the structure of Greek and Roman cities and sanctuaries, the variety of building types and monuments found within them, and how local populations used and lived in the architectural environment of the classical world. (Webb; cross-listed as CITY B268 and HART B268)

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. (Barber, Magee; cross-listed as ANTH B270 and GEOL B270)

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 2007-08.

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, Plato and Sophocles. 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. (staff; cross-listed as CITY B305) Not offered in 2007-08.

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)

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: ARCH 102 or equivalent. (Webb, Division III) Not offered in 2007-08.

ARCH B322 The Archaeology of the Roman Empire

An examination of the growth of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire at its height, from its acquisitions of the Hellenistic kingdoms (second and first centuries, B.C.E.) to its domination of Europe, North Africa and the Near East . Prerequisite: ARCH B102. (Webb)

ARCH B327 Spatial Analysis in Archaelogy

The spatial dimensions of social phenomena are critical issues in archaeological theory and method. Sophisticated approaches to document the spatial contexts of past human activities in 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. This course will introduce students to current methods for the qualitative analysis of ancient spaces and the qualitative analysis of the spatial attributes of archaeological data. (staff, Division I) Not offered in 2007-08.

ARCH B328 Analysis of Geospatial Data Using GIS

(staff; cross-listed as BIOL B328, CITY B328 and GEOL B328)

ARCH B330 Archaeological Theory and Method

An historical introduction to archaeological theory and methods. Topics: archaeology's origins in the Renaissance; the formation of archaeology and geology and social scientific approaches to the human past; competing philosophies of knowledge, phenomenology and post-modern constructions of knowledge. (Wright, Division III) Not offered in 2007-08.

ARCH B333 Ancient Greek Technology

Examines the technology of ancient Greek civilization from prehistoric to Hellenistic times (6000-31 B.C.E.) to enhance appreciation of ancient material culture. Course structure based on accessibility of primary materials: wood, textile, stone, clay and metal. An interdisciplinary approach to the culturally specific and innovative application of technology by craftspeople to meet their needs. (staff, Division III) Not offered in 2007-08.

ARCH B359 Topics in Classical Art and Archaeology

A research-oriented course taught in seminar format, treating issues of current interest in Greek and Roman art and archaeology. Prerequisites: 200-level coursework in some aspect of classical or related cultures, archeology or art history. (Donohue, Division III; cross-listed as CSTS B359)

ARCH B369 Topics in Medieval History

(staff, Division I or III; cross-listed as CSTS B369 and HIST B369) Not offered in 2007-08.

ARCH B398, B399 Senior Conference

A weekly seminar on common topics with assigned readings and oral and written reports. (Webb, Wright)

ARCH B403 Supervised Work



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