Ancient Studies

Program Office: 617 Hamilton; 212-854-3902;

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Marcus Folch, 617C Hamilton Hall; (212) 854-5684;

Director of Academic Administration and Finance: Juliana Driever, 617 Hamilton; 212-854-2726;

The purpose of this program is to enable the student to explore the cultural context of the ancient Mediterranean as a whole while concentrating on one specific Mediterranean or Mesopotamian culture. Central to the concept of the program is its interdisciplinary approach, in which the student brings the perspectives and methodologies of at least three different disciplines to bear on his or her area of specialization.

Faculty participating in the program are scholars specializing in all aspects of ancient culture and civilization from the Departments of Anthropology; Art History and Archaeology; Classics; History; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; Philosophy; and Religion, ensuring that a wide variety of approaches are available.

Course offerings vary year to year. Students are required to discuss their program prior to or during registration. The culmination of the ancient studies major comes in the senior year, when students with different areas of specialization come together to share their ideas in the senior seminar and then to write a substantial piece of original research. Students should think about topics for their senior paper during the junior year and find a faculty adviser at the beginning of the fall term of their senior year, after consulting with the director of undergraduate studies.

In the senior year, students register for ANCS UN3996 during the fall, and ANCS UN3998 Directed Research In Ancient Studies is usually taken during the spring. Sections should be arranged directly with the academic departmental administrator after finding a faculty adviser.

Guidelines for all Ancient Studies Majors


Advanced placement credits and courses passed with a grade of D may not be counted toward the major.


In an interdisciplinary program, courses that are available may on occasion have a substantial overlap in content. Since credit cannot be given twice for the same work, no courses may be counted toward the major that overlap significantly with courses already taken or in progress.

It is the student’s responsibility to discuss his or her program with the director of undergraduate studies well in advance and to provide him or her with all the necessary information on the courses concerned, since failure to do so may result in a course not being counted after it has already been taken.

Any course in the Department of Classics may be credited toward the major.

Major in Ancient Studies

The major in ancient studies requires 12 courses (a minimum of 36 points), two of which must be:

Major Seminar
Senior Thesis
ANCS UN3998Directed Research In Ancient Studies

The selected program of study for the major must collectively satisfy the following criteria:

Language Study *
Select two courses of an ancient language at or above the intermediate level, i.e., 1200-level or above.
Fundamental Breadth **
Select two introductory courses on some aspect of the ancient Mediterranean. Some examples include:
HIST UN1010The Ancient Greeks 800-146 B.C.E.
AHIS UN3248Greek Art and Architecture
AHIS UN3250Roman Art and Architecture
PHIL UN2101The History of Philosophy I: Presocratics to Augustine
CLLT UN3132Classical Myth
Advanced Study
Select two advanced courses on the ancient Mediterranean, typically at the 3000- or 4000-level.
Cultural Concentration
Select four courses on the culture of the language chosen, including one history course.

The minimum language requirement must be completed by the end of the first semester of the student’s senior year, so that the student is equipped to use sources in the original language in their thesis. Students are strongly urged to begin study of an ancient language as soon as possible and to complete more than the minimum requirements, since the best way to gain an understanding of a culture is through the actual words of its people. Those considering graduate work on the ancient world should also be aware that most graduate schools require more than two years of undergraduate language training for admission.

The language offered in fulfillment of this requirement should generally match the student’s area of cultural concentration; special arrangements are available with other universities for students whose cultural concentration require languages not normally taught at Columbia.

Students entering with expertise in their chosen languages are placed in advanced courses as appropriate but are still required to complete at least two semesters of language courses at Columbia; exceptions to this policy may be made in the case of languages not normally taught at Columbia. Language courses at the 1100-level may not be counted toward the major. Language courses, including those at the 1100-level, must be taken for a letter grade.


Relevant introductory courses are offered by the Department of Classics or from offerings in the Programs or Departments of Ancient Studies, Art History and Archaeology, History, Philosophy, or Religion. Students should confirm a course's relevance with the director of undergraduate studies as soon as possible.

Of Related Interest

Art History and Archaeology
AHIS UN3248Greek Art and Architecture
GREK UN1101Elementary Greek I
LATN UN1101Elementary Latin I
GREK UN1102Elementary Greek II
LATN UN1102Elementary Latin II
LATN V1120Preparation for Intermediate Latin
GREK UN1121Intensive Elementary Greek
LATN UN1121Intensive Elementary Latin
GREK UN2101Intermediate Greek I Attic Prose
LATN UN2101Intermediate Latin I
CLLT UN3132Classical Myth
CLCV GU4110Gender and Sexuality In Ancient Greece
HIST W4024The Golden Age of Athens
PHIL UN2101The History of Philosophy I: Presocratics to Augustine
RELI V3120Introduction to the New Testament
RELI V3140Early Christianity
Women's and Gender Studies
WMST GU4300Queer Theory/ Visual Culture