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Archaeology of the Classical, Late Antique, and Islamic Worlds


Archaeology of the Classical, Late Antique, and Islamic Worlds


MALS students take four classes within the program—Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies, two core courses in their chosen track, and the thesis—and choose their remaining electives from among all courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs at the Graduate Center.


MALS Track in the Archaeology of the Classical, Late Antique, and Islamic Worlds

Archaeology, popularized by films such as the Indiana Jones series, is far more than just good Hollywood fodder; rather it is a fundamental way through which scholars can unravel the history, cultures and civilizations of humanity. The aim of the MALS track in the Archaeology of the Classical, Late Antique, and Islamic Worlds is to explore the material culture of these worlds through an interdisciplinary lens, drawing upon the fields of archaeology, history, art history, classics, anthropology and middle eastern studies. Though disparate in time and space, Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds were artistically, historically and intellectually linked. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, major sites, key monuments, cultural trends and fundamental ideas of the Classical, Late Antique, and Islamic Worlds are discussed in order to better understand how the human past has been written through art, architecture and material culture.

Degree Requirements
This Master’s degree program includes a required introductory course (introduction to graduate liberal studies), two required core courses to introduce the student to archaeological topics, and six courses of the student’s choice, plus the final thesis (or project). These courses will provide a total of 30 credits for the Master’s degree and are designed to conform to similar requirements of the other concentrations currently offered by the MALS Program.

The two core courses will provide the student with multiple perspectives and a sound understanding of the history, culture and artistic milieu of the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds in order to prepare her/him to take advanced courses in Classics, History, Art History or Middle Eastern Studies as well as other relevant disciplines.

• The first core class, From Alexander to Muhammad: Introduction to the Cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean, introduces students to the languages and literature, as well as to the history and culture of the ancient Mediterranean, Late Antique and early Islamic worlds in the form of a descriptive survey.  The course is organized into four units, which focus on Alexander the Great; the Hellenistic Era; the Roman Empire; and Late Antiquity and the rise of Islam respectively. Major works of literature and history are read in translation to give students the background and basic knowledge that they need to go on for their further studies.

• The Second core class, Great Digs: important sites of the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic Worlds, exposes students to major archaeological sites from the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds. It seeks to broaden students’ awareness of archaeological methods and aims to demonstrate how interconnected the Classical, Late Antique and Islamic worlds were. Two major types of archaeological techniques, excavation and survey, are introduced.The course will then focus on examples from all periods surveyed in the track, including sites such as Classical Athens, Rome, Hadrian’s Villa (Tivoli), Pompeii, Alexandria, Constantinople, Ravenna, Jerusalem, Dura Europos, and Samarra. These examples and others will serve as case studies that demonstrate how specific sites shaped our knowledge of human history.

Together these two courses are intended to expose students to the major historical events, cultural trends, intellectual debates, archaeological techniques and archaeological sites. These courses will also prepare the students to focus on their own interests and deepen their knowledge for preparation of their MA thesis or project.

Field Work
Students are encouraged to participate in fieldwork, such as an archaeological excavation or research in a museum. Students may participate in a project of their own design and, if approved by the MALS executive officer, may receive up to three credits (equal to one course) towards their degree. Students may register for an Independent Study with a member of the doctorate faculty to receive credit for this project.

Listen to Dr. Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis talk about artifacts in the newly reopened Islamic Galleries at MET for, part of the Khan Academy: Two Royal Figures (Saljuq Period) and Ilkhanid Mihrab

Many of CUNY’s faculty are actively involved in archaeological research, and visits to New York’s museums play a vital role in the MALS archaeology track.

Questions about the MALS track in The Archaeology of the Classical, Late Antique, and Islamic Worlds may be directed to