Ancient History Track

The program offers students a pathway to explore the history of ancient Greece and Rome and their relationships with the neighboring cultures of the Near East, Europe, and Africa. It is also ideal for students interested in acquiring training in the academic discipline of history while concentrating on the period spanning the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1700 B.C.E.) to the early medieval and Byzantine worlds (ca. 600 C.E.). Although students may specialize in a particular field of history (political, social, economic, cultural), geographic area, or historical period of antiquity, the aim of the program is to provide a well-rounded training in the field of history, with a focus on ancient history. Students must take courses on both Greece and Rome, one course on a nonclassical premodern civilization, and at least one course on material culture, and develop intermediate-level proficiency in classical Latin and/or Greek. An additional course that introduces students to the main methods, theories, and philosophies of history is also strongly encouraged.

Courses that can serve as prerequisites or satisfy departmental requirements:

Art and Archaeology

200 The Art and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East and Egypt
202 Greek Art: Ideal Realism
203 Roman Art
300 Greek Archaeology of the Bronze Age
301 The Art of the Iron Age: The Near East and Early Greece
302 Myths in Greek Art
306 Classical Athens: Art and Institutions
308 Roman Cities and Countryside: Republic to Empire
401 Introduction t Archaeology
410 Seminar: Greek Art


Any CLA course
Greek: Any 200- or 300-level CLG course
Latin: Any 200- or 300-level LAT course

Hellenic Studies
346 Introduction to Byzantine Civilization

290 The Scientific Worldview of Antiquity and the Middle Ages
343 The Civilization of the Early Middle Ages
355 Transformation of the Ancient World: Byzantium 500-1200

Humanistic Studies
205 The Classical Roots of Western Literature
216 From Antiquity to the Middle Ages: Literature and the Arts
217 From Antiquity to the Middle Ages: History, Philosophy, and Religion

Near Eastern Studies
331 The Ancient Near East

205 Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
300 Plato and His Predecessors
301 Aristotle and His Successors
335 Greek Ethical Theory

301 Ancient and Medieval Political Theory

230 Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel
251 The New Testament and Christian Origins
252 From Jesus to Constantine: How Christianity Began
340 Ancient Judaism and the Dead Sea Scrolls


Eight departmental courses are required. These must include one survey course on ancient Greek history (CLA 216, CLA 217) and one survey course on Roman history (CLA 218, CLA 219); two seminars at the 300 level focusing on ancient history (e.g., CLA 326, CLA 327: Topics in Ancient History; CLA 324: Classical Historians and their Philosophies of History; CLA 325: Roman Law); one course on material culture (e.g., ART 202: Greek Art; ART308: Roman Cities and Countryside); two courses focusing in whole or in part on classical civilization (see list below); and one history course on a non-classical pre-nineteenth century civilization (e.g., EAS 335: Early Chinese History to 221; NES 220: Jews, Muslims, and Christians in the Middle Ages; HIS 350 History of France, 1685-1800). Students must also take the Junior Seminar in the fall of their junior year.

Each student must successfully complete Ancient Greek or Latin to the level of 108 or achieve an equivalent level of knowledge, as demonstrated through test scores (SAT, AP), a placement exam, or coursework (including through a summer language program). However, at least one language course must be taken at Princeton.

Independent Work

Junior Seminar
During the fall of the junior year, all majors must take the Junior Seminar (CLA 340). The course introduces students to different fields of study within the department, including literature, ancient history, ancient culture, linguistics, and reception studies. Students will gain experience in the methods of their chosen of area(s) of study while acquiring an understanding of the history of the discipline and its place in the 21st century. Students will also acquire the skills necessary to pursue junior and senior independent work. Students who are abroad during the fall of their junior year can complete the Junior Seminar during the fall semester of their senior year.

Junior Independent Work
In the fall term, each student researches and writes a paper of 15 to 20 pages on a topic of their choosing under the direction of a faculty adviser. The Junior Seminar will provide guidance in choosing a topic, structuring an outline, writing, and revising.  In the spring term, students undertake a more ambitious research paper of 20 to 25 pages.  Each student again works closely with a member of the faculty on the project, meeting regularly over the course of the spring term for discussion and analysis.

Senior Independent Work
At the end of the second term of the junior year, students are advised to select the subject for a senior thesis after consultation with the departmental representative. The thesis in its final form must be submitted to the department by April 15 of the senior year.

Senior Departmental Examination
In the spring semester of the senior year, students take a comprehensive examination designed to test their knowledge of Greek and Roman history.

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