Program in Early Cultures

Relevant Courses (2023-2024)

The following courses have been suggested by Early Cultures faculty as especially relevant to interested students. Courses marked with an asterisk have also received PEC funding for additional programming. Many of our Affiliated Departments also include course listings for the current year, as well as past or future years, on their websites. To view all courses being offered at Brown University in the current academic year, visit the university's online listings, Courses@Brown.

ANTH 2501: Principles of Archaeology

Examines theoretical and methodological issues in anthropological archaeology. Attention is given to past concerns, current debates, and future directions of archaeology in the social sciences.

Shanti Morell-Hart


ANTH 2560: Lived Bodies, Dead Bodies: The Archaeology of Human Remains

Bioarchaeology is the study of human remains from archaeological contexts. We will survey the "state of the art" in bioarchaeology, while exploring its relevance and application to the archaeology of complex societies. We will survey a range of bioarchaeological methods and applications, including paleopathology, stable isotope analysis, population affinity/ancient DNA, perimortem trauma, and body modification. In turn, we will explore how bioarchaeology can be used to approach a wide range of archaeological problems relative to complex societies, including subsistence, economy, migration, urbanism, social inequality, conflict and warfare, and identity. S/NC.

Andrew Scherer


ANTH 1030: Pre-Columbian Art and Architecture: A World That Matters

Survey of ancient art and building in ancient America, with a focus on Mexico, Central America, and the Andes. Underlying concepts include: meaning and method, cosmos and kingship, narrative and symbol, personality and authorship, empire and royal court.

Stephen Houston


ANTH 1125: Indigenous Archaeologies

This course is an introduction to Indigenous archaeologies, sometimes defined as archaeology "by, for and with Indigenous peoples." These approaches typically combine the study of the past with contemporary tribal needs. In addition, they seek to contribute to a more accurate understanding of archaeological record by broadening science through a consideration of Indigenous epistemologies. This course covers topics as the history of anthropological archaeology, Indigenous knowledge and science, decolonizing methodologies, representational practices, and NAGPRA.

Robert Preucel


ANTH 1760: Disability and Culture in the Past and Present

Like gender and race, disability is a cultural and social formation that identifies particular bodies and minds as different, regularly as undesirable, and rarely as extraordinary. This course introduces the theoretical, cultural, and political models of disability and explores the lived experiences of persons with disabilities across time and within different social contexts. Through a discussion of scholarly readings, literature, film, photography, art, and archaeology, this seminar considers disability in relation to: identity; impairment; stigma; monstrosity; marginalization; discrimination; beauty; power; media representations; activism; intersectionality; and gender and sexuality.

Samee Sulaiman


ARCH 2227: Approaching Ancient Economies

The inhabitants of the Greek, Roman, and Late Antique worlds made decisions about families, food, work, and religion based on complex webs of economic factors that included agriculture, mining, crafts, manufacturing, and trade. Economic activities were ubiquitous across the ancient world, yet it remains challenging to assess their nature and scale. This course engages with the large amount of archaeological data that can now be brought to bear on ancient economies, situating this material within its historical, political, geographical, and chronological contexts to examine the ways in which the people of the ancient world participated in their economic landscape.

Candace Rice


ARCH 2420: Making Modern Monuments: Race, Coloniality, and the Athenian Acropolis

How does modernity construct monuments and monumental landscapes, out of the multi-temporal remnants of various pasts? How do coloniality and race shape this process? What is the role of disciplinary apparatuses, especially archaeology, classics, architecture, and history of art? How do modernist sensorial regimes, particularly technologies of vision, co-constitute such “significant” monuments? Exploring these key questions, this seminar takes a close and sustained look at one iconic specimen, a sacred locus of western, racialized modernity: the Acropolis of Athens.

Yannis Hamilakis


ARCH 1774: Microarchaeology

Sediment – informally called ‘dirt’ or ‘soils’ – is a rich source of untapped information on ancient natural, animal, and human activity: the foundations of microarchaeology. This course will introduce students to key microarchaeological concepts including site-formation processes, human-environmental interactions, and chemical and microremain assemblages. Case studies will include the geoarchaeological fingerprints of destruction; lifeways in cave shelters, pastoral encampments, and urban households; origins of agriculture and use of fire; and – everyone’s favorite topic – what can be learned from human and animal excrement. Hands-on archaeological experiments, field collection, and laboratory methods will be introduced.

Kathleen Forste


ASYR 2400: Akkadian Literary and Religious Texts

Readings in Akkadian literary and religious texts in the original language and script. Possible genres include myths, proverbs, and literary miscellanea as well as prayers, hymns, incantations, rituals, prophecies, and divinatory texts. This course is intended primarily for graduate students and may be repeated for credit. A reading knowledge of Akkadian cuneiform is required. A reading knowledge of both German and French is recommended but not required.

Matthew Rutz


ASYR 2720: Greek Astronomy

An advanced seminar on ancient Greek astronomy, taking both a technical and a cultural perspective on the history of this ancient science.

John Steele


ASYR 1600: Astronomy Before the Telescope

This course provides an introduction to the history of astronomy from ancient times down to the invention of the telescope, focusing on the development of astronomy in Babylon, Greece, China, the medieval Islamic world, and Europe. The course will cover topics such as the invention of the zodiac, cosmological models, early astronomical instruments, and the development of astronomical theories. We will also explore the reasons people practiced astronomy in the past. No prior knowledge of astronomy is necessary for this course.

John Steele

Erica Meszaros


CLAS 2011B: Horace's Carmen Saeculare and its contexts

This seminar focuses on Horace's Carmen Saeculare, a Latin hymn commissioned by the Roman princeps Augustus for choral performance at the Ludi Saeculares in 17 B.C.E. We will read the poem both in the context of Horace's lyric poetry, considering it philologically and in regard to earlier and contemporary Greek and Latin poetry, and as an orally-presented, public hymn produced for a specific performance. We will also examine the significant (and exceptionally rich) epigraphic and other scholarly evidence related to the poem's religious and historical context, and we will look at its reception in later poetry.

Jeri Debrohun


CLAS 2822M:Thinking through Comparison: Han and Roman Empires

This seminar introduces students to comparative methods in the study of antiquity, with a focus on Han China and the Roman Empire. We will consider how and why we do comparative history, through the examples of the Han Chinese and Roman Empires. Sessions will consider existing examples of comparative work on these two ancient cultures from the eighteenth century to today, asking what questions the scholars involved were asking and what methodologies they brought to bear to answer them. Using a balance of ancient and modern readings, we will ask what the purpose of comparison is and what methodologies comparisons demand, as well as conducting our own comparative research informed by the most recent scholarship on both civilizations. No knowledge required of ancient European languages or ancient or modern Chinese languages.

Tamara Chin

Amy Russell


CLAS 1120B: Epic Poetry from Homer to Lucan

Traces the rich history and manifold varieties of the genre of epic poetry in the literatures of ancient Greece and Rome beginning with Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (VII c. B.C.) and ending with Lucan's Civil War (I. c. A.D.). Masterpieces such as Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphoses are included. Original sources read in translation.

Pura Nieto Hernandez


CLAS 1121B: The Ancient Novel

This course examines the birth and development of the ancient Greek and Roman novel and sets the form into the context of other popular literature of the early Roman imperial period (1 st -3 rd c. CE), including comic biography, Christian novella, and Wonder tales. Discussion will focus on the evolution of narrative technique and the representation of love, sexuality, slavery, and society. Brief consideration of the form’s influence on medieval romance and picaresque narrative.

John Bodel


CLAS 1225: History of Greece: From Alexander the Great to the Roman Conquest

In 334 BCE, the 22-year-old Alexander crossed over to Asia and North Africa, changing the history of the West forever. The invasion by a small, if intensely introspective, Greek peoples led to the spread of a monotheistic idea, belief in individualism, alienation from central power, and, conversely, the creation of natural law and human rights, and a deep desire for universalism. By its silences, the preserved narrative (constructed by European males) minimizes the lives of women, children, slaves, and those not of European origin. But largely because of Alexander’s conquests and the expansion of cosmopolitan thinking, the evidence embedded in Hellenistic history is far more diverse than for most other periods of classical history. This course focuses on inclusive social and intellectual history. Of particular emphasis will be the tension between the individual and the search for universal connection.

Kenneth Sacks


EGYT 2200: Monumentality and Texts in ancient Egypt

From monumental inscriptions carved inside pyramids to mummy bandages, and from texts meant to be ingested to those intended to be burnt, this course explores the multifaceted world of ancient Egyptian writing, with a particular focus on the hieroglyphic script. We will address key themes related to script and writing, including materiality, agency, and spatiality, and cover artifacts and monuments from all periods of ancient Egypt. Students will be introduced to innovative tools and methods that engage with texts, such as VR immersion or AI-based language programming, while familiarizing themselves with scholarly research and debate. No prerequisites. Primarily intended for graduate students.

Christelle Alvarez


EGYT 1310: Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian Writing and Language (Middle Egyptian I)

Learn how to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs! The classical language of ancient Egypt, Middle Egyptian was spoken ca. 2000–1600 BCE and remained an important written language for the rest of ancient Egyptian history. Students will learn the hieroglyphic writing system, vocabulary, and grammar of one of the oldest known languages and read excerpts from stories, royal monuments, tomb inscriptions, and amulets. By the end of this course, students will be able to decipher textual portions of many monuments and objects in museums. This course may also be taken on its own, and it also serves as the first of a two-semester sequence. No prerequisites.

Christelle Alvarez


EGYT 1330: Selections from Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts

Readings from the various genres of classical Egyptian literature, including stories and other literary texts, historical inscriptions, and religious compositions. Students will be expected to translate and discuss assigned texts. Prerequisite: EGYT 13101320.

Silvia Nigrelli


EGYT 1430: Pyramids, Power, Propaganda: Ancient Egyptian History to 1300 BCE

The first half of pharaonic history in ancient Egypt saw the invention of writing, the development of kingship, creation of a bureaucracy capable of erecting pyramids that still stand, and colonial expansion of Egypt both south into Nubia and east into the Levant. In this class we will critically examine ancient sources to understand not just what happened in this dynamic span of time but also how we as scholars can know about it. Who wrote what texts for what purposes, and how does the nature of these sources affect our ability to understand Egypt? Can we use literature as historical evidence? Utilizing primary sources in translation - sometimes multiple translations of the same text so we can critique translators - this course equips students to approach the history of an ancient but perennially fascinating place and culture. No prerequisites.

Laurel Bestock


GREK 2100G: Menander

Thanks to a series of remarkable discoveries over the last century, we can now read several comedies by Menander. In this course, we shall investigate the nature of New Comedy, its typical plot structures and characters, the conditions of its performance, and its relation to the Hellenistic world in which it was composed.

Adele Scafuro


GREK 1081: Ships and Shipping in Athenian Lawsuits of the Fourth Century BC

Athenian merchant ships carried on important trade around the Aegean Sea in the fourth century B.C., especially carrying grain cargo from Sicily and the Bosporos and back to Athens; a special set of orations deals with mercantile cases and the maritime loans that made such shipping possible (dikai emporikai, Dem. 32-35, 56). Athenian battleships (triremes) played an important role both in war and peace, maintaining the security of Athens and protecting sea routes for supplying grain. Some orations treat legal disputes over securing and returning gear for the ships (Dem. 47 and 50) and one disputes a crown awarded for the trierarch who best carried out his naval duties (Dem. 51). We shall read a selection of these speeches (esp. the latter three) and a scattering of inscribed passages from the Naval Records.

Adele Scafuro


GREK 1110H: The Odyssey

It is hard to imagine a more joyful way to acquire excellent control of Homeric Greek than by reading, in its entirety (if possible), Homer's wonderful and captivating work, the Odyssey. Though it can be a little time-consuming initially, students quickly become familiar with the syntax and the vocabulary, and find great pleasure in immersing themselves in this thrilling masterpiece.

Pura Nieto Hernandez


HIAA 2210: Asian Reprographics A Long History of Impression

This seminar examines the early history of reprography in East Asia. Defining reprography broadly to encompass all pre-photographic technologies of graphic impression, it explores the transfers that occurred within and between piece-mold bronze casting, ceramic molding, sealing, rubbing, and woodblock printing as they developed in succession and tandem over the past four millennia. In particular, the seminar considers the extent to which technics of transfer facilitated the movement of images across medium and time.

Jeffrey Moser


HIAA 1307: Politics and Spectacle in the Arts of Ancient Rome

This seminar investigates the intersection of politics and spectacles in the artistic production of ancient Rome. We will explore a variety of public monuments to reveal how they codify essential aspects of Roman culture. Topics include the architecture of entertainment spaces such as theaters, amphitheaters, and circuses, as well as the social functions of spectacles such as gladiatorial games and triumphal processions. We will look at expressions of imperial propaganda in monuments such as tombs and honorific arches. The class also considers how these ideas entered the private realm in the form of domestic wall paintings, mosaics, and sculpture gardens. 

Gretel Rodriguez


HIST 1360: Amazonia from the Prehuman to the Present

This course merging lecture and discussions will examine the fascinating and contested history of one of the world’s most complex fluvial ecosystems: Amazonia, in equatorial South America, from its pre-human history to the present day. The course will include readings and discussions on the region’s ecological origins; the social history of its diverse Indigenous and immigrant populations, including African-descended peoples; exploration myths and European colonial projects; and more recent efforts to exploit and protect Amazonia’s extraordinary natural and human resources. The course will use tools and resources from archaeology, anthropology, biology, and social and cultural history, and will also examine popular representations of the Amazon through novels, newspapers, podcasts, and film.

Neil Safier


HMAN 2401T: Critique of Political Theology: Ancient Texts and Contemporary Questions

The seminar examines political theology through critical readings of ancient canonical texts considered as foundational in the traditions of Western philosophy, Judaism, and Christianity. Texts from Anaximander, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristotle, the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Renaissance musings of Etienne de La Boetie will be read alongside 20th-century thinkers—Carl Schmitt, Pierre Clastres, Cornelius Castoriadis, Hans Blumenberg, Michel Foucault, Regina Schwartz, Jan Assmann, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, and Bonnie Honig. Can readings of ancient canons be both non-anachronistic and critical? Must critique be secular? Or Gnostic? Can the political be separated from the theological? What can formations of ancient theo-political imagination teach us about the limits of ours? The seminar is taught in parallel with Professor Stathis Gourgouris and his class at Columbia university. Collaborative work will take place among students at Brown and across the two campuses.

Adi Ophir


LATN 1110G: Latin Love Elegy

Reading of representative selections from each of the Roman elegists: Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid. Discussion also of the origins and development of love elegy at Rome and exploration of the themes and topoi that define the genre. Follows the poets' negotiations with various discourses and ideologies in Augustan Rome: literary, social, sexual, and political.

Jeri Debrohun


LATN 1110Y: Latin Epistolography

Through reading letters from different periods of Roman History, students will become more familiar not only with the ways letters negotiated Roman social, political, and intellectual networks but also how Roman authors drew on epistolary conventions to compose literature in other forms. Authors to be read may include but are not limited to Cicero, Ovid, Pliny the Younger, and Fronto.

John Bodel


LATN 1120D: Alcuin

Alcuin lived a life of wide variety and accomplishment, not least as an important member of Charlemagne's inner circle and, like many at court, he wrote widely and in multiple genres. From his enormous output this course will focus on the large collections of poetry and letters. We will attend in both gatherings to theme, tone, style, and allusivity and, where appropriate, we will ponder alternate readings in a collection that has not been edited since the late nineteenth century.

Joseph Pucci


LATN 1120G: Reading Humanist Latin Texts

The course will explore in depth some important Renaissance or 'early modern' works of Latin literature, many of which have not been translated into English. As well as opening up a new field of Latin writing, the course will extend general knowledge of classical literature by involving some less commonly studied ancient sources. It will also introduce some early imprints, enabling you to consider texts directly in the original form in which they first appeared.

Andrew Laird


LATN 1810: Survey of Republican Literature

Our purposes in this survey of Latin literature are to acquire a comprehensive historical perspective on Latin poetry and prose until the end of the Republic and a sense of its phases and the dynamics of its tradition; and to read different styles of Latin poetry and prose with confidence and ease.

Joseph Reed


MGRK 1010: The Classical World in Film

Why do film directors, Hollywood moguls, and TV executives hark back to antiquity? This course introduces spectacular, epic representations of classical literature, myth, and history alongside more understated, tongue-in-cheek—occasionally hyperbolic—adaptations of that world in the present. Explores how narrative, cinematic technique, audience reception, and political context produce desired effects and elicit incisive commentary on modernity, race, ethnicity, gender. Analysis centered around a cluster of classical texts, heroic and mythic figures, and truly “historical” events. No prior knowledge of classical literature required. Films range from silent movies, Hollywood epics, European auteurism, anti-colonial Third Cinema, gladiatorial kitsch, and sci-fi franchise.

Vangelis Calotychos


RELS 1325E: Ecotheology in Ancient Christianity

How did early Christians understand the relationship of humanity to the natural world, the animal kingdom, and the created order? What were the obligations and responsibilities of Christians regarding care for the world? How did they manifest a relationship to God? A study of the ancient Christian conception of humanity's place in the cosmos, as lived out in the daily life of the Christians in the Roman Empire. The course will focus on the first seven Christian centuries, with attention to how legalization and ascendancy reshaped Christian ideas on these matters. Seminar.

Susan Harvey


URBN 1871A: Heritage in the Metropolis: Remembering and Preserving the Urban Past

Urban heritage – from archaeological sites and historic architecture to longstanding cultural practices – is increasingly threatened by the exponential growth of cities around the globe. Most critically, the complex histories and lived experiences of the diverse communities who have inhabited and shaped cities are often in danger of being erased and forgotten today. This course examines how we might remember and preserve this urban past – and the tangible sites and artifacts that attest to it – ¬in light of the social and political dynamics of cities in the present.

Lauren Yapp

ANTH1031: Classic Mayan Civilization 

Examines the history, culture, and society of the Classic Maya, with special emphasis on Preclassic precursors, dynasties, environmental adaptation, imagery, architecture, urban form, and the Maya Collapse.

Stephen Houston


ANTH1621: Material Culture Practicum

The course explores the ways that archaeologists think about and interpret material culture and provides an opportunity to study the artifacts of everyday life found at historical archaeological sites in the Atlantic World firsthand. Focusing on an assemblage from a site that was a place of intercultural trade, conflict, and enslavement, students will learn how material evidence reveals the entanglements of Indigenous, European, and African people.

Patricia Rubertone


ANTH1623: Archaeology of Death

Examines death, burial, and memorials using comparative archaeological evidence from prehistory and historical periods. The course asks: What insight does burial give us about the human condition? How do human remains illuminate the lives of people in the past? What can mortuary artifacts tell us about personal identities and social relations? What do gravestones and monuments reveal about beliefs and emotions? Current cultural and legal challenges to the excavation and study of the dead are foregrounded.

Patricia Rubertone




ARCH1127/HIAA1308: Arts of Memory in Ancient Rome

In ancient Rome, art and architecture were important vehicles for preserving memories, both individual and collective. Works of art such as reliefs, stelae, paintings, and monumental tombs, perpetuated the memory of historical events and honored the legacies of notable individuals. This seminar will explore the multiple forms of commemoration in ancient Roman art and architecture, considering a variety of media including burials and cenotaphs, triumphal arches, honorific columns and statues, among others. We will analyze the monuments built by and for members of the Roman elite, as well as private memorials dedicated by ordinary citizens.

Gretel Rodriguez


ARCH1151: Provisioning Cities

Urbanism goes hand-in-hand with increased population and demand for provisions, so how did cities feed their residents? This course explores subsistence strategies used by residents of ancient urban areas through case studies that span the Old and New Worlds. We explore topics such as sustainable food raising, the role of markets in cities, water management, trash disposal, cuisine as environmental adaptation, and diet as identity. We will also investigate cities as multispecies biomes, in which urban dwellers shared their space with the animals and plants that eventually landed on their plates.

Kathleen Forste


ARCH1486/HIAA1213: The Bureaucracy of Hell: Envisioning Death in East Asian Art

This seminar examines the material and visual cultures of death in premodern East Asia. Topics include the materiality of funerary rites, the practice of entombing the dead with miniatures, and the visual tradition associated with the influential Scripture on the Ten Kings, which envisioned the afterlife as an infernal bureaucracy. We will discover that the way people in premodern East Asia envisioned death had a lot to do with the way in which they experienced life. By thinking through the continuities, we will use the present traces of death to envision the absent world of the living.

Jeffrey Moser


ARCH1490: Ancient Central Asia in the Shadow of Alexander

Popular imagination frames Central Asia as a marginal area whose relevance emerged only after the conquest of Alexander the Great – a faulty interpretation influenced by Orientalist bias. In contrast, this course turns its focus to the global and lasting impact of ancient indigenous cultures of Central Asia -- Afghanistan and the former Soviet Republics -- before and after the arrival of Greco-Macedonian colonialism, through the lenses of archaeology, art, and history. We will also consider Central Asia as a case study for broader approaches to issues around state power, identity, migration, resilience, and inequality in the ancient world.

Zachary Silvia


ARCH1515: The Fair Sex: Female Body and Sexuality in the Ancient World

Maidens, wives, goddesses, prostitutes, monsters. This course examines constructed concepts and stereotypes of “femininity”, “gender”, and “sexuality” and considers how – or even whether – they might be applied to art, archaeology, and literature of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Topics include representations of the female body and sexuality in art; notions of aesthetics, beauty, and perfection; nudity and taboo; women in myth, literature, and ritual; burials and funerals; gender roles and tropes of femininity; zones of female agency and authority; and multiply marginalized women (immigrants, enslaved workers).

Robyn Price


ARCH1670: The Beginning of the End? Neolithic "Revolutions" and the Shaping of the Modern World

How did the first farmers and settled human communities live their lives? How did they reshape the landscape, invent new forms of elaborate dwelling, and establish new relationships with plants and animals? And are the roots of some of our contemporary problems, including social inequality and patriarchy, to be found in the Neolithic? These are some of the questions we will be exploring in this course, using material from the European and Anatolian Neolithic and other, global, contexts.

Yannis Hamilakis


ARCH 1765: Pandemics, Pathogens, and Plagues in the Greek and Roman Worlds

Terror of mass illness is nothing new; as long as there have been humans, there has been disease. These pandemics and plagues have had mortal impacts on past societies, much as contemporary plagues affect today’s economies, social and political structures, and populations. This class considers disease and society in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, beginning with the Plague of Athens in 430 BC and continuing to the outbreak of the ‘first pandemic’ of bubonic plague in AD 541. We will examine these case studies through archaeological material, written accounts, DNA analysis, palaeoclimate reconstruction, and palaeopathology.

Tyler Franconi


ARCH1869/ANTH 1560: Environmental Archaeology: Sustainability, Catastrophe, and Resilience

How did people in the past respond to environmental crisis? How did they modify their environments to suit their needs - sometimes to long-term detriment? How did they engage in sustainable practices, and build resilience into their local ecologies? In this course you will learn how archaeologists reconstruct paleoenvironments using multidisciplinary approaches, including botanical analyses, soil studies, and GIS modeling. You will learn how archaeologists tackle the problem of identifying ethnoecological relationships in the deep past, and how they track the impacts of these relationships on human history and the environment. Key case studies will be drawn from ancient societies in the Mesopotamia, Polynesia, West Africa, the American Southwest, Western China, the North Atlantic, and the Maya area.

Shanti Morell-Hart


ARCH 2117/HMAN2401V: Marking Meaning: Visual Signs, Language, and Graphic Invention

To be human is to make many marks: tags and emblems of identity, memory aids that direct and guide human action, and writing that records the sounds and meanings of language, or that might exult in the purposively meaningless asemic script. This process reveals the powers of human invention and facilitates and deepens the “graphospheres” that envelop human life. Visible, concrete signs form an environment from which people construct and construe meaning. This collaborative humanities seminar addresses the nature of graphs from past to present. Topics include: the technology of graphs; their many precursors and parallel notations; their emergence, use, and “death”; their development over time, especially in moments of cultural contact and colonialism; their setting and presence as physical things; the perils and possibilities of their interpretation; acts of grapholatry and graphoclasm; and the nature of non-writing.

Stephen Houston

Felipe Rojas Silva


ARCH 2635: An Empire without Bounds: The Roman Empire in Its ‘Global’ Context

The Roman world did not stop at the Empire’s borders; its influence spread through sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, India, central Asia, China, and northern Europe – and these interactions shaped the Roman Empire, in turn. This course aims to de-center the Roman and Mediterranean experience of Antiquity by considering archaeological and historical evidence from places as far-reaching as Parthian Mesopotamia, Kushan India, and Han China, as well as the Saharan oases, the Indian Ocean monsoon routes, and the many intertwined land routes of the ‘Silk Road(s)’ across central Asia.

Tyler Franconi


ARCH2725: The Making of Egypt

In the late 4th millennium, a state and culture recognizably pharaonic in structures rose in the Nile Valley. How was Egypt made, and how can we study the process? This seminar will examine this exceptional convergence of the development of monumental architecture, writing, canonical art, and kingship during Egypt’s formative centuries from c. 3200-2600 BC. We will study the rapid changes at the start of the First Dynasty in the context of state formation over the longer span of late-Predynastic to Old Kingdom Egypt.

Laurel Bestock


ASYR 1100: Imagining the Gods: Myths and Myth-making in Ancient Mesopotamia

Creation, the Flood, the Tower of Babel--well-known myths such as these have their origins in ancient Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Using both ancient texts in translatioin and archaeology, this course will explore categories of Mesopotamian culture labeled "myth" and "religion" (roughly 3300-300 BCE), critically examining the ancient evidence as well as various modern interpretations. Topics will include myths of creation and the flood, prophecy and divination, death and the afterlife, ritual, kingship, combat myths and apocalypses, the nature and expression of ancient religious experience, and representations of the divine. There are no prerequisites.

Matthew Rutz


ASYR 2120: Historiography of Exact Sciences

Introduces graduate students to the sources, problems, and methodologies of the history of astronomy and mathematics from Babylon to Kepler. Prerequisite: AWAS 0200. Open to graduate students only.

John Steele


CLAS 1120X/COLT 1431I: Ovid's Metamorphoses

Ovid’s epic Metamorphoses, a prime source for ancient mythology from the Renaissance to Disney films, has often been received as a delightful compendium of older myths retold with urbane wit; yet its blithe treatment of horrific mythological events can also unsettle, as when its place in the Columbia University curriculum recently prompted a discussion of “trigger warnings.” We will read it in English translation, exploring its capacity to inspire disparate responses. What must we suppress to find the Metamorphoses pleasant or menacing? How does it create its tensions? How do they get projected onto a later culture’s assumptions?

Joseph Reed


CLAS 1179: Reception of Latin in Americas

This course will explore the reception of Latin in the Americas.

Ambra Marzocchi


CLAS 1220: The Fall of Empires and Rise of Kings: Greek History 478 to 323 BC

The Greek world was transformed in less than 200 years. The rise and fall of Empires (Athens and Persia) and metamorphosis of Macedon into a supreme power under Philip II and Alexander the Great provide the headlines. The course covers an iconic period of history, and explores life-changing events that affected the people of the eastern Mediterranean and the topics that allow us to understand aspects of life and culture of the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean. and through these transformations, offers insights into the common pressures that communities confronted. No prior knowledge of ancient history is required.

Johanna Hanink


CLAS 1310/HIST1930R: Roman History I: The Rise and Fall of an Imperial Republic

The social and political history of Ancient Rome from its origins to the death of Augustus in 14 CE. Focuses on the social conflicts of the early Republic; the conquest of the Mediterranean and its repercussions; the breakdown of the Republic and the establishment of monarchy. Readings emphasize ancient sources in translation.

Amy Russell


CLAS 1930F/COLT1431H: Women Writing Epic

This course will introduce students to English translations and adaptations of ancient Greek and Roman epics to consider the contemporary politics of representing and publishing women. These poems chronicle men talking with or fighting each other, all in the hopes of reproducing “great” men. Women often function as backgrounded appendages or, if significant, effect something catastrophic. We will revisit these dynamics and explore how literary genre genders authors and readers in relation to war, citizenship, race, class, sexuality and/or celebrity. How does epic negotiate social identities or formations? What needs to happen for women to write epic? What happens when women write epic? Which kind of women does the publishing industry want/allow to write epic now?

Sasha-Mae Eccleston


EGYT 1320: Introduction to Classical Hieroglyphic Egyptian Writing and Language (Middle Egyptian II)

Continuation of a two-semester sequence spent learning the signs, vocabulary, and grammar of one of the oldest languages known. By the end of this introductory year, students read authentic texts of biographical, historical, and literary significance. The cornerstone course in the Department of Egyptology - essential for any serious work in this field and particularly recommended for students in archaeology, history, classics, and religious studies. Prerequisite: EGYT 1310.

Christelle Alvarez


EGYT 2300: Readings in Ancient Egyptian

Advanced readings in ancient Egyptian texts in the original script and language. Readings will be selected from a particular genre, historical period, or site. This course is intended primarily for graduate students and may be repeated for credit. A reading knowledge of ancient Egyptian is required. A reading knowledge of both German and French is strongly recommended but not required.

Silvia Nigrelli


GREK 1111F: The Greek Chorus

One of the most striking features of Greek drama is the presence of a chorus whose members dance, sing, and contribute to the dramatic action in ways that puzzle modern audiences. Besides the drama, choruses are also found in other genres: in victory odes for champions of athletic competitions, in hymns to gods and goddesses, and in other forms such as the dithyramb. In this class, we will read a representative selection of choral lyric, from Alcman to Aristophanes, including major figures such as Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.

Kenneth Haynes


GREK 1820: Greek Literature Survey after 450 BCE

Surveys Greek literature after 450 BCE. Authors studied include Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Herodotus, Thucydides, as well as the literature of the fourth century and beyond. Emphasis on literary interpretation and the intellectual currents of the times. Extensive readings in the original.

Stephen Kidd


GREK 2070B: Seminar: Hellenistic Poetry

In this seminar we will read in their original Greek version extended portions of three major Alexandrian poets' works: Apollonius of Rhodes, Callimachus, and Theocritus, supplemented by readings in Hellenistic epigrams and other texts as well as secondary literature. We will pay attention to the social, political and literary environment of third century Alexandria, where –under very special conditions– these works were produced and received for the first time. We shall investigate the nature of the Hellenistic aesthetic, the relation of Hellenistic to archaic and classical poetry, and the way Hellenistic poetry is a reflection of its time and place.

Pura Nieto Hernandez


HIST 1081: Environmental Injustice and Justice in African History

This course considers the exercise of human power in more-than-human realms in the African past. Most understandings of environmental justice have to do with modern industrial pollution and regulation, but environment and power–both oppressive and liberatory–have been tightly intertwined throughout world history. This course tracks environmental injustice and justice, broadly defined, on the African continent from ancient times through the present. Topics include: foraging, animal domestication, cultivation, mineral technologies, extractivist production, game hunting, peasant production, settler colonialism, disease and medicine, industrialization, urbanization, conservation, recreation, and climate emergencies. Across different time periods, in every region, in different political systems and economies, we will seek out the politics of environmental access, privation, and risk. No previous knowledge of African history is expected.

Nancy Jacobs


HIST 1512: First Nations: The People and Cultures of Native North America to 1800

This course explores the history of North America through the eyes of the original inhabitants from pre-contact times up through 1800. Far from a simplistic story of European conquest, the histories of Euroamericans and Natives were and continue to be intertwined in surprising ways. Although disease, conquest, and death are all part of this history, this course also tell another story: the big and small ways in which these First Nations shaped their own destiny, controlled resources, utilized local court systems, and drew on millennia-old rituals and practices to sustain their communities despite the crushing weight of colonialism. 

Linford Fisher


HIST 2930: The Roots of History

“The Roots of History” encourages critical thinking about some of the different ways in which historians approach thinking and writing about the past. In particular, we will explore some of the major theoretical stances that have influenced the discipline of history. Our focus throughout will be the interplay between theory and practice. By examining how historians have grappled with questions posed by influential thinkers (often working within other fields of knowledge), we will chart the trajectory of the discipline and assess its working methods. Required for all first-year PhD students in History.

Jennifer Johnson

Jeremy Mumford


LATN 1040A: Virgil: Eclogues and Georgics

Virgil, most famous as the poet of the Aeneid, began his career with two smaller masterpieces: a collection of ten bucolic poems (Eclogues) modeled on the Idylls of the Hellenistic poet Theocritus, and a didactic work on agriculture in four books, the Georgics, which found its inspiration both in Hellenistic models and in more recent Roman antecedents (including Lucretius' De Rerum Natura) and is viewed by many as the poet's finest achievement. We will read selections from both works, concluding with the epyllion at the end of Georgics Four, which relates the tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice.

Jeri Debrohun


LATN 1110F: Fortunatus

Wide reading in the occasional poetry of the most prolific writer of the early Middle Ages, attending to diction, meter, imagery, allusion, and paying special attention to the (homo- and hetero-) erotic pieces written to the poet's friends.

Joseph Pucci


LATN 1110T: The Poetry of Praise

The art of praising powerful men and women comes into Roman poetry from Greek encomium, particularly of the Hellenistic period; it begins in the late Republic, but comes into full flower with Augustus' consolidation of his own rule. Are we dealing with straightforward praiseof rulers? With ironic or tendentious critiques? With texts that can perform both functions? We will study examples drawn from a number of Latin authors, mainly Augustan, as well as a few Greek texts in English translation. Enrollment limited to 20. Intermediate Latin (a passing grade in LATN 0300 and/or 0400) or the equivalent, for example in secondary school.

Joseph Reed


LATN 1120I: Latin Epic from Mexico

The Latin epics produced in colonial Mexico contain a wealth of exciting material, and only one, Rafael Landívar’s Rusticatio Mexicana, has ever been translated into English. The course will introduce this remarkable tradition of writing which began in the 1500s, before focusing on two striking examples from the early eighteenth century: José de Villerías y Roelas’ Guadalupe (1724), a narrative of the celebrated apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico in 1531, a decade after the Spanish conquest; and (ii) José Mariano de Iturriaga’s Californiad (1740), an account of the visions and divine prompting that led the Jesuit missionary Salvatierra to seek to convert the indigenous inhabitants of Baja California. This is a 1000 level Latin class: some familiarity with Virgil and experience of reading the Aeneid will be a helpful prerequisite.

Andrew Laird


LATN 1150: Latin Prose Composition

Review of the basic tenets of Latin syntax, composition, and style. English to Latin translation exercises will shore up composition skills, as we study the stylistic traits of seven Roman authors: Cato, Caesar, Cicero, Sallust, Livy, Seneca, and Tacitus. The course will proceed chronologically according to author. Class time will be spent on translation exercises and review, as well as the identification of the stylistic and syntactic characteristics of the seven authors under study.

Amy Russell


LATN 2120A: Roman Epigraphy

A practical introduction to the study of Latin inscriptions, with emphasis on the reading, editing, and interpretation of texts on stone. Class time will be divided between discussion of various categories of texts in the light of the 'epigraphic habit', literacy, and the sociology of reading in antiquity and hands-on experience with editing inscriptions on stone.

John Bodel


RELS 1330A: The Life and Afterlives of the Apostle Paul

While the writings of the Apostle Paul are commonly understood as early Christian scriptures, the Apostle Paul never converted to “Christianity.” He was and remained Jewish. We must therefore reexamine his writings within his Jewish context, not apart from it. We also need to see how the earliest “Christians” talked about Paul within the context of an emerging “Christianity.” In this course, we will first dive into both the authentic and spurious letters of Paul in the New Testament. We will then turn to the figure of Paul in later Christian texts, both canonical and non-canonical.

Jae Han


RELS 2055: Reality, Rhetoric and Religion in Late Antiquity

Over the past few decades, the study of Judaism and Christianity in the Late Antique Roman Empire, and to an extent, the Sasanian Empire, has undergone its own version of the “linguistic turn.” This resulted in conceptions of textuality as inevitably rhetorical and performative (in a broad sense) rather than necessarily referential or descriptive of realities “behind” the text. Thus, one encounters terms like “rhetorical Jews” or “rhetorical Christians” and witnesses the dissolution of once-stable categories like “Gnosticism,” “history,” and indeed, even “Judaism” and “Christianity.” This graduate level course will seek to locate this trend within the broader world of humanistic inquiry, read through important secondary literature that exemplify this “turn” along with the primary texts that anchor its analysis, and theorize alongside other contemporary scholars for ways ‘beyond’ and/or ‘through’ the “turn."

Jae Han