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Ancient History

The History Department’s graduate field in Ancient History combines rigorous, multidisciplinary research training with thorough preparation for classroom teaching.  Graduate students receive training in historical methods and the handling of evidence, along with solid language preparation.  We offer a cohesive, supportive scholarly community where students are treated as colleagues-in-training.

Our program keeps specific requirements to a minimum in order to allow students maximum flexibility in designing (in consultation with their advisors) the course of study that best suits their needs and interests. Particular emphasis is given to making theoretical and comparative connections with other fields of history and related disciplines.

Current Faculty:

Anthony Barbieri has wide-ranging interests in many aspects of Early China, including technology, organization of production, labor history, gender and social relations, legal process, visual and material culture, and state formation. He also conducts research in Egyptology as a comparative field with early China.

Elizabeth Digeser is interested in processes of transformation (political, religious, economic) in Late Antiquity (3rd-5th C.E.). Her current research explores the role of patronage and propaganda in consolidating the emperor Constantine’s hold on power. She is particularly interested in methodologies that integrate material culture with textual evidence as well as the reception of late ancient ideologies.

John W.I. Lee studies the history of ancient West Asia, especially war, society, and culture in the Greek and Achaemenid world from ca. 650-330 BC.  He also studies receptions, interpretations, and representations of antiquity in the United States, especially amongst African American classical scholars.  He is the author of A Greek Army on the March: Soldiers and Survival in Xenophon’s Anabasis (2008); The Persian Empire (2012); and The First Black Archaeologist: A Life of John Wesley Gilbert (2022).

Affiliated Faculty:

Brice Erickson (Classics) is a specialist in Greek archaeology, ceramic analysis, and Archaic and Classical Crete.

Rose MacLean (Classics) is a specialist in Roman cultural history.

Robert Morstein-Marx (Classics) specializes in Roman history from the Middle Republic to the Early Empire.

Claudia Moser (History of Art & Architecture) focuses on the material culture and archaeology of Roman religion,

Stuart Smith (Anthropology) focuses on the history and archaeology of ancient Egypt.

Christine Thomas (Religious Studies) works on Hellenistic religions and early Christianity, using both textual and archaeological perspectives.

Other Classics faculty with historical interests include Francis Dunn (Greek culture), Ralph Gallucci (Greek politics), and in the Philosophy Department, Voula Tsouna specializes in ancient Greek philosophy.

Current Students:

Recent Alumni/ae:

  • Ryan Abrecht (2014), Associate Professor of History, University of San Diego
  • James Conrad (2017), Teacher, Los Angeles
  • Olivier Dufault (2011), Independent Scholar
  • Eric Fournier (2008), Professor of History, West Chester University (PA)
  • Christopher Kegerreis (2016), US Civil Servant
  • Lei Dou (2023), Instructor, Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center
  • Jason Linn (2014), Lecturer, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo
  • Heidi Marx (2009), Professor of Religion, University of Manitoba
  • Lisa Meyers Johnson (2021), Instructor, Bismarck State College (ND)
  • Chris Nofziger (2018), Senior Consultant, The Spur Group
  • Michael Proulx (2007) Professor of History, University of North Georgia
  • Lindsey Scholl (2011), Humanities Teacher, Trinity Classical School (Houston); freelance writer
  • Thomas Sizgorich (2005) † , formerly Associate Professor of History, UC Irvine 
  • Alison Turtledove (2013), Archivist, Valley Relics Museum (San Fernando Valley)
  • Tracey Watts (2017)
  • James White (2020), Teacher, Headwaters Academy, Ontario, Canada
  • Peninah Wolpo (2016), Lecturer in Classics and Division Chair of Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Studies, University of New Mexico, Los Alamos


Relief of Apollo
Relief of Apollo from Lyon. Learn more about Apollo and the emperor in HIST 112C: Disaster & Reform (3-4C CE).

Students who wish to pursue graduate training in Ancient History should first contact the particular faculty member whose specialty best matches their interests.  We encourage all potential graduate applicants to contact us by email to discuss their research interests and professional goals BEFORE submitting a formal application for graduate study in our program.

The History Department is a member of the interdisciplinary Ancient Mediterranean Studies PhD Emphasis or AMS. AMS is not a separate degree-granting program, but offers a course of study enabling graduate students to bridge the traditional disciplinary borders that sometimes divide scholars who study the ancient Mediterranean world. AMS embraces faculty and students from the departments of Anthropology, Art History & Architecture, Classics, History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies.




What kinds of professional goals are most consistent with your program?
We train research scholars who are also outstanding teachers. If you see yourself as a faculty member in a History Department, writing scholarly articles and books, teaching ancient World History, Mediterranean/West Asian History, or East Asian History survey courses in addition to specialized courses in your field, and you want to interact with historians of diverse periods and fields, then our program is suitable for you.

How much preparation in Ancient History do I need?
Applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to the History Department’s M.A./Ph.D. program. They should be familiar with the narrative frameworks of ancient Mediterranean and West Asian history (for example, through completing upper-division undergraduate course work in ancient history), and have taken at least one seminar course requiring the research and writing of a long analytical paper.

How much language preparation should I have?
Applicants should have at least three years of coursework in at least one ancient language relevant to their research, along with reading knowledge of at least one modern foreign language. All students must pass ancient and modern language translation exams.

What sort of financial support is available?
Funding resources include departmental and university fellowships, and teaching assistantships. Departmental and Graduate Division funding is available for graduate student travel to conferences and for research. In addition, numerous privately endowed fellowships are awarded yearly through UCSB’s History Associates. The Harold and Kathleen Drake Fund provides support for graduate student research, conference travel, and other scholarly activities. The Thomas Sizgorich Memorial Fund aids entering graduate students who come from economically disadvantaged or non-traditional backgrounds.