Ancient Mediterranean & Late Antique Near East

The Ancient History division focuses on the history of ancient Greece, ancient Rome, and Ancient and Late Antique Near East. The Ancient History division is enriched by fine programs in the Departments of ClassicsPhilosophy, and Art History, as well as in Near Eastern Studies and the Comparative Religion Program. Graduate students may take graduate courses offered by these Departments to enlarge their work in the Department of History. The generosity of a donor has established a fellowship for an entering M.A. student: the Roseman Fellowship.

The Department offers fields in most of the periods of Greek and Roman History from the Bronze Age to the later Roman Empire, as well as in ancient historiography. Graduate students may develop fields defined chronologically and thematically.

Students interested in the field of Late Antiquity may approach the field from a variety of angles, focusing on ancient or medieval history, with additional coursework in the departments of ClassicsNear Eastern Languages and CivilizationArt History or the Comparative Religion Program. At least one graduate field course is offered each year, sometimes co-taught with faculty from other departments. Recent courses have included: "Introduction to the Historiography of Late Antiquity (150-750)"; "Jerusalem and the Holy Land in Late Antiquity"; "The Age of Justinian"; and "Heresy and Orthodoxy in the Early Church." Reading courses on Syriac literature and language, Sasanian history, and Anatolian archaeology can also be arranged. To study Late Antiquity as their primary field, students should be prepared to learn at least two ancient languages (e.g. Greek, Latin, Syriac), as well as the requisite modern European languages (in most cases, French and German). Study of Late Antiquity as a secondary field requires only one ancient and one modern language. The range of possible topics for a secondary field in Late Antiquity is also much larger, ranging from Late Roman North Africa to the historiography and consequences of the early Islamic conquests.

Associated Faculty

Scott B. Noegel

Adjunct Professor
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Ancient Mediterranean & Late Antique Near East*

    A number of fields are possible within this division:

    Biblical History

    (Syro-Palestinian) Israelite history and culture within the context of the greater ancient Near East. Includes knowledge of primary biblical languages.

    Mesopotamian History

    History of the primary peoples and cultures of Mesopotamia from the mid-4th millennium BCE until the Hellenistic period. Includes knowledge of primary langauges of Mesopotamia.

    Ancient Egyptian History

    History of ancient Egypt from the mid-4th millennium BCE until the Ptolemaic period. Includes knowledge of hieroglyphic Egyptian.

    History of Biblical Exegesis

    This history of biblical exegesis (Hebrew Bible=Old Testament) frrom canonization until today.

    History of the Semitic Languages

    Comparative history of the primary Semitic languages and their dialects.

    **Adjunct professors do not normally supervise first fields.

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profile photo of professor Joel Walker

Joel Thomas Walker

Associate Professor
  • Graduate Studies Description

    Division: Ancient Meditteranean & Late Antique Near East

    A field in Late Antiquity will encompass the history of the Mediterranean and the Near East, 200-750CE, combining a broad general knowledge of the period, with intensive study of at least one region (e.g., North Africa, Syria-Palestine) and two themes chosen to complement student research interests (e.g., hagiography and asceticism, cities, death, burial, and conceptions of the afterlife). Students preparing a field in the History of the Byzantine Empire, 610-1453 CE, may focus on social and cultural history, and the relationship between Byzantine Empire and its neighboring states. In most cases, students will want to include course work in Byzantine art history as part of their preparation for this field. A field in the history of Christianity in the Near East is also possible, covering the period from 500 CE to the present, combining a broad knowledge of the various Christian traditions of the region, with an intensive study of any one tradition (e.g., the Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, East or West Syrian Christian traditions), focused on the pre-modern period.

    Division: Africa & the Middle East

    Students may prepare a field in the Islamic Middle East, encompassing the history of the Sasanian and early Islamic Near East, 500-900 CE, combining a broad general knowledge of the period, with intensive study of at least one region (e.g., Egypt, Iraq, Iran), and two overarching themes chosen to complement student research interests.

    Division: Comparative History (Historiography & Comparative Gender)

    Students preparing a field in Historiography will explore the themes, methods, and theory of hist TAUGHTorical writing in late antiquity. Students will acquire a broad general knowledge of the range of historical writing in late antiquity (200-900 CE): from the classical Greco-Roman tradition represented by writers like Ammianus Marcellinus and Procopius; to the Christian history and chronicle tradition begun by Eusebius of Caesarea; to al-Tabari and the origins of Islamic historiography. Fields in Comparative Gender will encompass the history of gender in early Christianity, from the New Testament to late antiquity (20-600 CE). Students will acquire a broad command of early Christian debates about gender (especially the role of women in the church). Topics examined in the field include sexual renunciation, asceticism, and the legal and social role sof women in the Roman Empire and the early Church.

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