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Classical Art and Archaeology (D)

The Faculty of Classics in Cambridge is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of the art and archaeology of Greece and Rome. With a long and distinguished history and an outstanding range of intellectual and working resources, it provides a powerhouse that generates pioneering innovatory research in the field of Classical art history and archaeology. Our strengths include Classical art history, theory and practice of survey archaeology (from the prehistoric Aegean to Roman Italy and the provinces), iconography, reception studies, numismatics (coins and monetary history), reception studies (from the Renaissance to our own day), collecting and museum displays.

For undergraduates

Every year, the caucus offers a programme of courses that aim to provide an understanding of how we know what we know about the art and the archaeology of the classical world from the societies of the prehistoric Aegean to late antiquity.

Whether you come to the subject by means of Part IA, where we offer a general introduction to the scope and applications of art and archaeology within classical studies, or by the range of topics offered in Part IB, our principal aim is to help you to become familiar with, and deepen your knowledge of, the primary evidence. By introducing you not only to the general principles of the subject, but also to current scholarly debates in art and archaeological studies, we aim to help you learn how to look at objects and interpret diagrams and other forms of data. As a result, we hope that you will gain the confidence to explore the material remains of the ancient world and learn to ‘read’ for yourself what they tell about their creation in the past and their rebirth in the present. In part II, you will be able to specialise in particular aspects of the subject, choosing among four different papers. You will also have the option to offer, as an alternative to a sat paper, a third-year thesis on a topic in ancient art or archaeology chosen by you (subject to Faculty advice and approval).

Although most courses centre on lectures and are enhanced further by the writing of essays (supervisions), there are also classes to enable you to participate in a wider or deeper discussion raised in those lectures. Visits to art museums and archaeological collections are also a regular part of the curriculum, as are handling sessions in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (cast classes), in the Fitzwilliam Museum and in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. If you decide that you want to take part in fieldwork or to gain other practical experience, caucus members welcome participation in a range of different research-projects.

On offer at the moment are the following ‘D’ courses: Introduction to Roman material culture (Prelim); Art and Archaeology of the Greek and Roman Worlds (part IA); Mycenae: a city of legend, The Art and Archaeology of Early Greece: 800-500 BC, Classical to Hellenistic Art, Landscapes of Roman Italy, The Roman-ness of Roman Art (part IB); Aegean Prehistory, Poetics of Classical Art, The Art of Collecting (in) Greece and Rome, Roman Cities (part II). Recent courses also included: Theory and Practice in Classical Archaeology, Greek Colonization, and Pompeii.

For postgraduates

Doctoral research of recent years has ranged from Early Bronze Age societies in the Aegean through Roman London and Violence in Roman Art. The teaching of students for the MPhil seeks to combine archaeological theory, hands-on-experience, and innovative approaches to the study of ancient art. There are also classes intended to introduce caucus members to a range of research skills: Greek and Roman numismatics; coinage and ancient monetary history; Roman pottery; and Classics and museums.

The caucus organizes compulsory weekly research seminars for its postgraduate students, some of them held in concert with our historical colleagues, generating an exciting atmosphere of collaborative endeavour. Underlying the Faculty’s interdisciplinary approach to classics, there is a regular work-in-progress seminar series organized by graduate students themselves, without regard to caucus affiliation. Separate from these graduate seminars, the caucus research seminar series is open to both established academics and younger scholars, providing a critical platform for discussion and debate.

Our art and archaeology graduates are preferentially sought for appointments in universities throughout Britain and America, while their publications have generated a worldwide response. Our alumni include, among many others, Susan Alcock (Ann Arbor), John Bennet (British School at Athens), Cyprian Broodbank (Cambridge), Giovanna Ceserani (Stanford), Jaś Elsner (Oxford), Thomas Gallant (Florida), Jonathan Hall (Chicago), Kritstina Jacobsen (Copenhagen), Catherine Morgan (Oxford), Ian Morris (Stanford), Lisa Nevett (Ann Arbor), Gillian Shepherd (Birmingham), Michael Squire (London), Peter Stewart (Oxford), Jeremy Tanner (London) and James Whitley (Cardiff). 

Resources and collaborations

Alongside the relevant sections of the Classics Library, the caucus can boast the Museum of Classical Archaeology, a unique asset housed in the Faculty Building. The museum’s collections comprise more than 600 plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculpture, around 4,500 paper squeezes of ancient inscriptions, and some 10,000 objects, mostly sherds from excavations of sites in the eastern Mediterranean, such as Knossos, Mycenae, Al Mina, Naukratis and the Athenian Agora. It also houses important archival collections, including the A.J.B. Wace Mycenae Archive, a photographic library and a substantial collection of slides (now largely digitised).

We maintain a co-operative rapport with the Division of Archaeology in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and the Department of Antiquities of the Fitzwilliam Museum with its impressive Greek and Roman holdings.

A number of caucus members are actively engaged in archaeological research that provides opportunities to the faculty’s undergraduate and graduate students for fieldwork participation.

Who are we?

The past decades have seen the emergence of a 'Cambridge School' of Classical Archaeology with inspirational and innovatory academics, such as Anthony Snodgrass and Henry Hurst, many of whose students are now leading figures themselves.

The following people teach for the D caucus, as well as Lucilla Burn from the Fitzwilliam Museum, Simon Stoddart from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, and Susanne Turner from the Museum of Classical Archaeology.

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