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Classical Archaeology

Program Overview

The field of classical archaeology comprises the study of the material remains of Ancient Greek, Roman, and related cultures (e.g., Aegean, Etruscan, Punic) in order to understand the nature and development of these cultures and the experiences of the individuals and groups who constituted them. It involves the study of evidence as varied as regional settlement data, architectural remains, craft goods, art objects, and environmental materials. Classical archaeology commonly draws on information provided by ancient texts - principally written in Ancient Greek and Latin - and thus falls within the compass of historical-periods archaeology (while also including prehistoric archaeology in the eastern and central Mediterranean).

The Graduate Program in Classical Archaeology (henceforth, the Program) in the Department of Classics (henceforth, the Department) at the University of California, Berkeley (henceforth, UC Berkeley) offers both the MA and the PhD degree. A student who completes the MA Program should be qualified to advance to the PhD Program or to gain admission to a PhD program in classical archaeology or a related field at another institution. A student who completes the PhD Program should be qualified for a faculty position in classical archaeology at a college or university and/or a curatorial appointment in Greek/Roman antiquities at a museum. The Program has enjoyed notable success in placing its graduates, and scholars who have completed the PhD degree currently hold faculty or curatorial appointments at Princeton University, Brown University, the University of Michigan, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the American University of Rome, the University of Richmond, the University of Massachusetts – Boston, Mount Holyoke College, the College of the Holy Cross, and Kalamazoo College.

There are currently four archaeologists on the faculty of the Department - Christopher Hallett, Nikolaos Papazarkadas, J. Theodore Peña, and Kim Shelton - who contribute to the Program in the areas of teaching, advising/supervision, and research. The other members of the Department of Classics faculty, faculty and researchers in several other departments (e.g., History, History of Art, Near Eastern Studies, Anthropology, Earth and Planetary Sciences) (see appended List of Affiliated Faculty and Researchers) and a constant stream of visiting faculty from around the world also contribute to the Program. In addition, UC Berkeley and Stanford University have a reciprocal agreement that permits graduate students at one institution to enroll in courses offered at the other, and students in the Program regularly take advantage of this opportunity.

The field of classical archaeology draws on and contributes to both the humanities and the social sciences, and the Program’s requirements at both the MA and PhD levels are designed to provide students with a rigorous training that reflects this circumstance. To this end the Program draws on the rich array of resources available to the Department both on the UC Berkeley campus and further afield. In the former instance these include the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology (which houses the largest university anthropology collection in the USA west of the eastern seaboard, including extensive holdings of Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Egyptian material culture and a large collection of casts of significant works of Greek and Roman sculpture); the UC Berkeley libraries (one of the largest university library collections in the USA, which includes specialized libraries in both art history/classics and anthropology); the Archaeological Research Facility (which draws together faculty and student archaeologists from across the UC Berkeley campus, offering lecture series, a publication series, technical training programs, public outreach programs, and access to research laboratories, research equipment, and financial support for research activities); the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri (which houses the largest collection of papyri in the Western Hemisphere); the Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy (which houses an extensive collection of facsimiles of Ancient Greek inscriptions); the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology; the Roman Material Culture Laboratory; the Center for Digital Archaeology; and last but not least a graduate student exchange program with the Università di Siena, in Italy. UC Berkeley Classics faculty direct archaeological research projects in both Greece (Aidonia, Nemea, Mycenae) and Italy (Rome, Pompeii) in which UC Berkeley graduate students regularly participate. In addition, the Department of Classics and other allied units at UC Berkeley sponsor a variety of lectures, lecture series, seminars, and conferences pertinent to classical archaeology. Also located in the City of Berkeley are several institutions independent of UC Berkeley that offer opportunities for research and/or training relevant to classical archaeology. These include the Badè Museum of Biblical Archaeology, the Berkeley Geochronology Center, and the Alexandria Archive Institute. Across the Bay, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco house significant collections of Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Egyptian antiquities.

All applicants in Classical Archaeology must apply to the PhD Program. Applicants whose highest degree is a BA (or who are on schedule to complete a BA during the current academic year) who gain admission are admitted to the MA Program. Applicants with an MA (or who are on schedule to complete an MA during the current academic year) may be admitted either to the MA Program or directly to the PhD Program depending upon their level of preparation in classical archaeology and related fields. To continue on to the PhD Program a student in the MA Program must apply for advancement, normally during his/her fourth semester.

Applicants whose highest degree is a BA should have completed this degree with a major in classical archaeology or a related field (e.g., classical languages and literature; classical studies; art history with an emphasis on ancient art; history with an emphasis on ancient history; anthropology with an emphasis on Mediterranean archaeology). To be considered for admission directly to the PhD Program an applicant should have completed an MA in classical archaeology or a related field. In either case, the applicant should have completed coursework in both Ancient Greek and Latin through at least the intermediate level (i.e., 4-6 semesters of coursework or the equivalent in each of the two languages) prior to entering the program. In addition, it is highly desirable that the applicant has completed introductory survey courses or the equivalent in Greek archaeology, Roman archaeology, and ancient history. It is also highly desirable that the applicant has participated in archaeological fieldwork or museum study of some kind, either within the geographical compass of the Greco-Roman world or elsewhere.

Students admitted to the MA Program should complete the MA requirements by the end of their second year in the program. Those who advance to the PhD Program should advance to candidacy by the end of the fifth year and complete the PhD by the end of the seventh year. Students admitted directly to the PhD Program should advance to candidacy by the end of the third year and complete the PhD by the end of the fifth year.

In most cases students admitted to either the MA or the PhD Program receive a funding package consisting of two years of guaranteed fellowship support and (pending advancement to the PhD Program for those admitted to the MA Program) one year of guaranteed employment as a graduate student instructor (GSI) (one course for each of the two semesters). In both cases this provides tuition remittance, health benefits, and a substantial stipend. (Out-of-state students who are US citizens or permanent residents can obtain the status of California resident after only one year of residency within the state, qualifying for exemption from Non-Resident Supplementary Tuition [NRST]). Students who advance to candidacy in accordance with UC Berkeley’s normative time to degree schedule qualify automatically for one additional year of fellowship support under the Doctoral Completion Fellowship (DCF) Program in their fifth or a subsequent year. The Department provides additional financial assistance on a year by year basis in the form of fellowship and/or a GSI position for any years in the program outside these four years (i.e., years 4, 6, 7, and, if necessary, 8), and no student making satisfactory progress towards the completion of his/her degree requirements has been unable to finish the program due to a lack of financial support. Students engaged in off-campus research and/or training activities, such as participation in archaeological field projects, summer study programs, or dissertation research are regularly provided substantial financial support for these from one or more of a variety of sources, including the Department’s Crawford, Brittan, and Heller Funds, the Mario Del Chiaro Fund for the Study of Etruscan Art, the Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy’s Fellowship Fund, and the Archaeological Research Facility’s Stahl Fund.

Persons interested in applying to the Program should note that there are several other options at UC Berkeley for graduate study in fields related to classical archaeology. These include the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology; the Graduate Program in the Department of Anthropology with a concentration in Archaeology; the Graduate Program in the Department of History of Art with a focus on ancient art; the Graduate Program in the Department of History with Ancient Greece and Rome selected as the first field; and the Graduate Program in the Department of Near Eastern Studies selecting the Program in Near Eastern Archaeology. Worth noting is the distinction between the Graduate Program in Classical Archaeology and the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology: the former is designed to provide rigorous training in Greek and Roman Archaeology, with one of these designated as the primary field and the other as the secondary field, while the latter is intended for students who wish to work with both texts and material culture, bridging between two of the three designated culture areas (Near East, Ancient Greece, Rome).

Potential applicants interested in obtaining advice regarding which of these programs is best suited for them should contact the Department’s Graduate Advisor for Classical Archaeology (currently Kim Shelton:  sheltonk@berkeley.edu).