Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The interdisciplinary program of graduate study in Ancient History and Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Archaeology (AHMA) is conducted by a group that includes more than 20 faculty members affiliated with seven different Berkeley departments as well as the Graduate Theological Union. A chair, a graduate adviser, and a student affairs officer administer the program.

The AHMA program offers PhD degrees in areas that combine work in archaeology and history and related disciplines of ancient studies. Most of its graduates have successfully secured teaching positions in Departments of Classics, Art History, History, Anthropology or Near Eastern Studies in colleges and universities in the US or abroad, including Bar-Ilan, Haifa, Volos, Oxford, Toronto, Columbia, Madison, Austin, and Pennsylvania.

Students are not admitted to work specifically for the MA degree, although those working toward the PhD may file for an MA after fulfillment of the requirements for Stage 1. Students work closely with faculty in courses, seminars, and independent research projects to develop independent thought as well as a thorough knowledge of their fields and their critical methods.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

The AHMA program is open to students with a BA degree in a relevant field of study (such as Classics, Near Eastern Studies, History, or History of Art) that have completed at least one year of undergraduate work in ancient history, ancient art, archaeology, or related fields. Applicants primarily interested in the Greek and Roman worlds should be prepared to undertake advanced work in either Greek or Latin and its culture, and also should have basic competence in the second of these two languages. Applicants primarily interested in the ancient Near East and Egypt do not have to display competence in one of the area’s ancient languages before applying, but to do so may strengthen their application considerably.

Students who have already acquired the MA degree in a relevant field are especially encouraged to apply and will be considered for direct admission to the PhD program. The AHMA faculty as a group approves all applicants for admission. AHMA policy is to limit enrollment to the number of students who can be adequately supported for the first five years of their graduate career. Although AHMA receives around 35 applications per year, we can only enroll one to two students each fall. Competition therefore is extremely keen. As a result, while some applicants may be rejected for lack of preparation or for undistinguished academic records, a substantial number who are capable of doing good graduate work unfortunately also must be denied admission.

The AHMA faculty judges and ranks applicants on a combination of criteria that includes:

  • Preparation to undertake advanced scholarly work.
  • Academic distinction as reflected in overall GPA, major GPA, and junior and senior year GPA, as well as awards, prizes, or publications.
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation.
  • A statement of purpose, which should be clearly and cogently written and indicate why the applicant is interested in the AHMA program and where his or her specialization might lie.
  • A scholarly writing sample between 25-30 pages and indicating the origin of the writing sample (i.e. a class paper, senior honors thesis, MA thesis.

An applicant with an MA is expected to offer substantially stronger preparation than one with only a BA. Applications must be submitted electronically either via Graduate Division’s online application. The online application process for fall normally opens in early September. The deadline for applications is early December.

Doctoral Degree Requirements


Students declare three fields: a First field, a Second field, and a Special field. The First and Second fields are chosen from the following four options: North Africa; Greek world; West and/or Central Asia; and Roman world. All four First/Second fields embrace both history and archaeology/material culture. A third, Special field, is tailored to the student’s specific interests.


Pre-MA students are required to take at least 12 courses. They are also required to write no fewer than 8 seminar papers in those 12 courses.

Post-MA students are required to take at least 8 courses. They are also required to write no fewer than 5 seminar papers in these 8 courses.

Courses that normally satisfy these requirements will be from AGRS, AHMA, ANTHRO, CLASSIC, HISTART, HISTORY, and MELC.


Students satisfy program requirements in four languages, two ancient and two modern. One ancient language is designated as primary, the other as secondary. 


Students are required to participate in either (a) at least one season of excavation or survey, or (b) one summer program in archaeology, material culture, or a relevant technical discipline, or (c) a summer internship, usually in a museum.

Petition to Proceed

Every student must submit a Petition to Proceed to Stage II of the program. This occurs for pre-MA students no later than the beginning of the fifth semester, and for post-MA students no later than the beginning of the third semester. 


In order to advance to PhD candidacy, students must pass a written exam covering the First field and an oral Qualifying Examination (QE) covering all three fields. 


After passing their QE, students must compose a prospectus of the intended dissertation, present it at a colloquium for approval, and then, under the supervision of a Dissertation Committee, complete a dissertation that makes an original contribution to the subject.


Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

Faculty and Instructors

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Diliana Angelova, Associate Professor. Early Christian and Byzantine Art, women, gender, material culture, history of ideas, late antique art, the Virgin Mary, early Christian empresses, imperial iconography, power and material culture, the empress Helena, the relic of the True Cross, urban development of Constantinople, textiles, ivories, mythology in Byzantine art, myth and genre in Archaic and Classical Greek art, and romantic love in ancient and medieval art .
Research Profile

Adam Benkato, Assistant Professor. Iranian languages (Sogdian, Middle Persian, Parthian, Bactrian, Old Persian), material philology, sociolinguistics, archive studies, postcolonialism, and oral literature.
Research Profile

Aaron Brody, Professor. Canaanites, Phoenicians, Israelites, maritime archaeology, archaeology of society, religion, and economy, interregional interactions.
Research Profile

Susanna Elm, Professor. History of the Later Roman Empire, pagan - Christian interactions, ancient medicine, slavery and the evolution of Christianity, leadership and empire, reception of antiquity.
Research Profile

Kevin Gibbs, Research Associate. Eurasian and African prehistory; Jordan in the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age; pottery.
Research Profile

Christopher Hallett, Professor. Classics, Roman art, visual culture, portraiture, Hellenistic art, Roman Asia Minor, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt.
Research Profile

Todd Hickey, Professor. Classics, papyrology, Greek, Egyptian, social and economic history, late antiquity.
Research Profile

Rita Lucarelli, Associate Professor. Near Eastern Studies, Egyptology.
Research Profile

Emily Mackil, Professor. Ancient Greek history.
Research Profile

Duncan MacRae, Associate Professor. Classics.
Research Profile

Lisa Maher, Associate Professor. Lithic Analysis, Geoarchaeology, Prehistory, Hunter-Gatherer Archaeology, Human-Environment Interactions, Landscape Archaeology, Climate Change, Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, Transitions to Food Production.
Research Profile

Laurent Mayali, Professor. European legal history, comparative law, medieval jurisprudence, customary law.
Research Profile

Sanjyot Mehendale, Chair, Tang Center for Silk Road Studies and Lecturer in Near Eastern Archaeology and Central Asia. Archaeology of Eurasian trading networks; Samarkand and southern Sogdiana; maritime archaeology; Indian Ocean trade.
Research Profile

* Carlos F. Norena, Associate Professor. Roman history.
Research Profile

Nikolaos Papazarkadas, Professor. Greek epigraphy, Greek history.
Research Profile

Laurie Pearce, Lecturer in Akkadian. Assyriology, Akkadian, cuneiform, prosopography, digital humanities.
Research Profile

J. Theodore Pena, Professor. Roman archaeology, Roman and pre-Roman Italy, city of Rome, Pompeii, ancient economy, ceramic analysis, material culture studies.
Research Profile

Lisa Pieraccini, Associate Adjunct Professor. Roman and Etruscan material culture and wall painting, funerary archaeology.
Research Profile

Benjamin W. Porter, Associate Professor. Near Eastern Studies, Bronze and Iron Age Levant, field archaeology, archaeological method and theory, Near Eastern archaeology, Middle East, Arid Environments, anthropology, Heritage, tourism, and Museum Studies.
Research Profile

Carol Redmount, Associate Professor. Egyptian Archaeology, Ceramic Studies, Eastern Mediterranean Interconnections.
Research Profile

Francesca Rochberg, Professor. History of science, ancient near east, cuneiform studies.
Research Profile

Kim S. Shelton, Associate Professor. Ceramics, classical civilization and archaeology, Aegean prehistory, religion/mythology.
Research Profile

Niek Veldhuis, Professor. Digital humanities, intellectual history, Sumerian, cuneiform.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Guitty Azarpay, Professor Emeritus. Art and archaeology of the ancient Near East and Central Asia.
Research Profile

Daniel Boyarin, Professor Emeritus. Gender and sexuality, rhetoric, Judaism, Christianity, Talmud, genealogy of religion.
Research Profile

Stanley H. Brandes, Professor Emeritus. Cultural anthropology, ritual and religion, food and drink, alcohol use, visual anthropology, Mediterranean Europe, Latin America, Spain, Mexico.
Research Profile

Wolfgang J. Heimpel, Professor Emeritus. Near Eastern studies.
Research Profile

Ronald Hendel, Professor Emeritus. Textual criticism, Hebrew bible, ancient Near Eastern religion and mythology, Northwest Semitic linguistics.
Research Profile

J.E. Huesman, Professor Emeritus.

Anne D. Kilmer, Professor Emeritus.

Rebecca Lyman, Professor Emeritus. Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Jacob Milgron, Professor Emeritus.

Martin Schwartz, Professor Emeritus. Near Eastern studies.
Research Profile

John M. Smith, Professor Emeritus.

* Andrew F. Stewart, Professor Emeritus. Archaeology, classics, Greek sculpture, ancient art and architecture, the Hellenistic east after Alexander, the Renaissance reception of antiquity.
Research Profile

David B. Stronach, Professor Emeritus.

Ruth Tringham, Professor Emeritus. Archaeology, Central European, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Anatolian prehistory, early agriculturalists, neolithic, bronze age, prehistoric architecture, household archaeology, feminist practice of archaeology, multimedia (hypermedia).
Research Profile

Contact Information

Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

7233 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-4218

Fax: 510-643-2959

Visit Group Website


Emily Mackil (History)

2312 Dwinelle Hall

Head Graduate Advisor

Kim Shelton (Classics, Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology)

Phone: 510- 642-5314

Student Services Officer

Cassandra Dunn

7228 Dwinelle Hall MC 2520

Phone: 510-642-3672

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