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Classical Archaeology

 The later twentieth century saw a fundamental move away from Classical Archaeology's traditional focus on the excavation of city centers, the architectural analysis of major monuments, the typological classification of artifacts, and the aesthetic or purely descriptive analysis of visual imagery.  The material record of the past can no longer be subsumed to evolutionary historical narratives or an essentialist view of cultures.  Several archaeologists who played a leading role in this paradigm shift joined Stanford's faculty in the 1990's (including Michael Shanks and Ian Morris in Classics, and Ian Hodder in Anthropology) and became founding members of a new Archaeology program at Stanford.  Classical Archaeology at Stanford grew from there; we are committed to developing and exploring cutting-edge theoretical and methodological approaches to the material culture of the ancient Mediterranean. 

 

There are four core teaching faculty in the graduate program: Ian Morris (archaeology and history of Iron Age Greece, Big History, modern outcomes of ancient history), Michael Shanks (archaeology of ancient Greece, archaeological theory, metamedia, performance archaeology, archaeologies of design), Jennifer Trimble (visual and material culture of the Roman Empire; portraits and replication; urbanism and the city of Rome; ancient mapping and social-spatial analysis), Giovanna Ceserani (intellectual history of classical archaeology and historiography; Hellenism and modernity; the modern study of Magna Graecia).  In addition, students work closely with faculty in Classics (including Walter Scheidel and Josh Ober in ancient history; Richard Martin, Alessandro Barchiesi, Natasha Peponi in literature; Reviel Netz and Andrea Nightingale in history of science and philosophy, among others) and in Anthropology (including Ian Hodder, Lynn Meskell, Barb Voss, Ian Robertson among others).  The PhD requirements are designed to provide students with the ability to generate innovative and theoretically-informed questions about the ancient Mediterranean, and to answer them through the rigorous application of archaeological evidence, methods, and analytical frameworks.

Three major areas are currently receiving a great deal of attention in both faculty research and graduate seminars.  One is the connection to recent developments in ancient history.  Answering questions about what happened in the ancient Mediterranean, how people lived, and why that matters requires the ability to handle textual as well as material evidence, and to work with historical models and methods as well as archaeological theories and techniques.  Shared research areas here include ancient economies, quality of life, ancient colonialism, comparative imperialism, and others.  A current strength of our PhD program is developing archaeologists with strong historical training, and historians who handle material evidence as fully as they do textual sources.  Second is the connection to ongoing theoretical developments in Archaeology.  All faculty and graduate students in Classical Archaeology are members of the Stanford Archaeology Center, which brings together archaeologists from departments all over campus to share research and cross-cultural perspectives.  Current research themes include urbanism, heritage, historical archaeology, and cultural memory.  Graduate students in Classical Archaeology are required to take two of their core seminars at the Center (Methods, Theory), and are strongly encouraged to take additional seminars on theoretical and/or comparative themes relevant to their research.  Third is the exploration of changing modern relationships to the material past.  This includes research into the current landscape of archaeological looting, the antiquities trade and issues of ownership and repatriation; it includes explorations of the intellectual history of archaeological research, including antiquarianism and modernity; it includes work on the full range of modern relationships to the material past, i.e. heritage.

PhD students in Classical Archaeology are encouraged to develop their own fieldwork projects, as relevant to their developing research interests.  Students have been closely involved in faculty projects at Monte Polizzo (Sicily), the Roman Forum (Rome), and Binchester (northern England).  Graduate students who became co-directors of field projects during their time at Stanford include Trinity Jackman (Monte Polizzo, Sicily), Lidewijde de Jong (Tell Sheikh Hassan, Syria) and Danielle Steen (Tall Dhiban, Jordan).  The department has extensive funding to help support student research and fieldwork in the Mediterranean.  Information about past Classical Archaeology PhD students, including dissertation topics and what they are doing now, is available on our placement page.