Skip to main content

The Program in CLASSICAL AND MEDITERRANEAN STUDIES offers students an interdisciplinary

perspective on the culture and history of a region at the crossroads of civilization since antiquity.

The study of the Mediterranean world examines the influential achievements and legacy of the

Greeks and Romans alongside the emergence and spread of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the

East. It also explores the premodern to modern development of southern Europe, North Africa,

and western Asia, which have variously responded to the ancient and medieval past. The Program

offers courses in the history, religion, philosophy, art, literature, society and culture of the

Mediterranean world. In teaching and research, our faculty promote the integrated study of past and

present through both written and material sources—textual, artifactual, visual, spatial—and they

embrace analytical techniques in the digital humanities. Students thus have the opportunity to learn

several ancient and medieval languages of Europe and the Middle East and to pursue experiential

learning overseas, from intensive modern language study to archaeological fieldwork to the

investigation of evolving cultural and natural landscapes.


Majors in Classical and Mediterranean Studies are introduced to the distinctive geography

and history of the region but choose their courses in one of three tracks. These tracks have shared

content but offer different viewpoints and training. Majors who expect to apply for graduate study

should work closely with an adviser to devise an appropriate curriculum. Students who pursue

Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures investigate one or more ancient to medieval

cultural tradition(s) in the Greco-Roman and Near Eastern spheres through the study of original

texts and their historical setting, such as Greek tragedy, Latin oratory, Hebrew scripture, the Qur’an,

or early French romance. Students who pursue Mediterranean Archaeology explore human diversity

and experience from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages through the study of material and visual

culture. They too learn to read textual sources while acquiring the skills of archaeological and art-historical

research. Students who pursue Mediterranean Studies, the most flexible track for a broad

range of interests, can choose to engage with a variety of ancient, medieval, or modern topics

through focused or comparative study. The Program in Classical and Mediterranean Studies also

offers a minor in Mediterranean Archaeology and a minor in Mediterranean Studies. A student

cannot earn more than one minor in the program. The Honors Program requires mastery of a

language and the production of a thesis representing advanced, original, and substantial research.


Majors and minors are strongly recommended to pursue study abroad in the Mediterranean

or an adjacent region. The Program has long supported the Intercollegiate Center for Classical

Studies, the American Academy in Rome, and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.

Many different international experiences are possible through Vanderbilt-approved semester

programs, Maymesters, research projects, and summer study, for example, in France, Italy, Greece,

and Israel. The Program encourages students to participate in local and regional conferences, where

they can share the results of collaborative or independent work. Students concentrating on Greece

and Rome who qualify academically are invited to join Eta Sigma Phi, the National Classics Honor



Maymester Courses in Greece
and Rome

1 2 3 4

Uncovering Greek Religion: Cults, Festivals, and Sanctuaries in the Ancient World.

Travel to Greece to survey Greek religion: its deities, sanctuaries, and festivals. Examine the wide variety of pagan cults from prehistory to late Antiquity; the roots of early Christianity; and the influence of ancient pagan cults on modern Greece. Related topics include Athenian democracy; the impact of cults and festivals on warfare, the economy, athletics, and literature; and the role of women and other marginalized groups.

» More

Archaeology, History, and Culture in Greece: Kenchreai Field School.

Archaeological field school at the site of Kenchreai with seminars and excursions in southern Greece. Basic techniques in excavation, survey, and the analysis of architecture, artifacts, and bones. Explorations of churches, temples, houses, and tombs. Focus on Greece during the Roman Empire and late antiquity. Landscape settlement, cult practice, cultural and social diversity, and funerary ritual.

» More

History and Art of Ancient Rome: Maymester in Rome and Campania.

Visits to significant archeological sites, monuments and museum collections in Rome and locations throughout southern Italy.

» More

Recent News

  • June 25, 2017
    Joseph Rife lectured on Late Antique burial and society in Greece for a conference at the Humboldt University in Berlin, where he is participating in a working group on emerging Christianity in southeastern Europe.
  • June 1, 2017
    Chiara Sulprizio gave a paper entitled "Sex and the Enslaved Woman in Roman Legal Texts," at the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
  • January 6, 2017
    Barbara Tsakirgis has been recognized for her remarkable achievements as the 2017 recipient of the Martha and Artemis Joukowsky Distinguished Service Award from the Archaeological Institute of America
  • November 5, 2016
    Daniel Solomon received the Jacqueline Elliott Award for Service in Higher Education from the Tennessee Foreign Language Teachers Association
  • October 24, 2016
    Joseph Rife was a guest of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World of New York University, where he commenced a working group on Roman Aegean Networks in collaboration with Sebastian Heath (ISAW) and Sabine Ladstätter (ÖAI-Vienna).
» More News