Ancient History

Classics and Ancient History

Through the Departments of Classics and History, the University of Chicago offers graduate students the opportunity to study the history of the Mediterranean and the Near East from the Bronze Age down to the Byzantine era. While students are expected to familiarize themselves with the important political developments that occurred in the ancient world, the study of ancient history at the University of Chicago is particularly distinctive for its emphasis on social, economic, and cultural approaches to antiquity. The Classics faculty's recognized strengths in this area are further complemented by the expertise of a large number of affiliated faculty from the Departments of History, Anthropology, Art History, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and the Divinity School.

Apart from acquiring a firm grounding in the critical interpretation of literary documents, inscriptions, and archaeological finds, students are encouraged to pursue innovative and imaginative avenues of inquiry, partly through their own programs of study and partly within the context of intellectual forums such as the Ancient Societies Workshop and various conferences and symposia organized by the Department. Students are also eligible for travel fellowships to allow them to conduct first-hand investigations in the Mediterranean and Near East.


Three Classics faculty have direct responsibility for research projects and instruction in Greek and Roman history:

  • Clifford Ando is the author of Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (2000), of The Matter of the Gods: Religion and the Roman Empire (2008), of Law, language, and empire in the Roman tradition (2011), and of Imperial Rome AD 193 to 284: the critical century (2012). He is interested in issues of law, administration, and cultural change in the Roman Empire.
  • Alain Bresson is the author of Recueil des inscriptions de la Pérée rhodienne (1991), La cité marchande (2000), and L'économie de la Grèce des cites (2 vols, 2007-8) and is an expert on the Hellenistic world, epigraphy, and the ancient economy.
  • Jonathan M. Hall is the author of Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity (1997),Hellenicity: Between Ethnicity and Culture (2002), and A History of the Archaic Greek World, ca. 1200-479 BCE (2007). His interests include the social and cultural history of early Greece and the relationship between texts and material culture.

In addition, training in papyrology is provided by David Martinez, who is an expert on Greek papyri and ancient Greek religion and magic, and in palaeography by Michael I. Allen, who specializes in Medieval Latin Literature.

Under the aegis of the Program in the Ancient Mediterranean World, two faculty in the History Department also offer instruction and guidance in Mediterranean History:

  • Cameron Hawkins has just completed a book entitled Work in the City: Roman Artisans and the Urban Economy, and has interests in the social and economic history of the Roman world, ancient historiography, and military history.
  • Walter E. Kaegi has published many books on the Byzantine world, including, most recently, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests(1992) and Heraclius Emperor of Byzantium (2003), Muslim expansion and Byzantine collapse in North Africa (2010). His work focuses particularly on the relationship between Byzantium and the Near East, including Islam.

The Program in the Ancient Mediterranean World also allows students of ancient history to take instruction from the following affiliated faculty in a number of departments:


The following courses are among those that have recently been taught in Ancient History:

  • The Ancient Mediterranean World I, II, III (a three-quarter undergraduate introduction to Greek, Roman and Late Antique/Byzantine History)
  • The Ancient Economy
  • Ancient Greek History and Modern Politics
  • Ancient Sparta
  • Ancient Warfare
  • Archaic Greece
  • Archaeology for Ancient Historians
  • Aristophanes' Athens
  • The Colonial World
  • Early Rome
  • Economy and Society of Ancient Rome
  • Empire and Enlightenment
  • Ethnicity in the Greek World
  • Grain Production and Trade
  • Greek Epigraphy
  • Greek and Roman Historians
  • Greek and Roman Slavery
  • Greek Antiquity and its Legacy I, II, III (a ten-week undergraduate study abroad program in Athens)
  • Greek Religion in Historical Context
  • The Greeks and the Persian Empire
  • Hellenistic Asia Minor
  • Ptolemaic Egypt
  • Roman Law
  • Romans Outside Rome
  • State and Subject in the Roman Empire.


The University of Chicago has an excellent placement rate for its graduate students. Recent Chicago graduates in ancient history have gone on to obtain teaching positions at Ashland University, Brock University, Bryn Mawr College, the City University of New York, Cornell College, Florida State University, Harvard University, Temple University, Tulane University, Union College, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Southern California, the University of Western Ontario, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Washington University, and Whitman College.