Mission

The University of Michigan offers an Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program in Classical Art and Archaeology [IPCAA], which derives special strength from an innovative and inclusive approach to the study of antiquity.  The program is jointly sponsored by the Departments of Classical Studies and the History of Art, and is closely associated with the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.

Classical archaeology is the study of ancient Greek, Roman, and related cultures as illuminated by material evidence. It naturally subsumes the study of “material culture,” but it is also much wider in scope. In addition to the ongoing exploration of the physical remains of ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures, and to the traditional fields of Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern art and architecture, Classical archaeology is engaged with historical issues such as state formation, imperialism, and colonization; with sociological issues such as the study of gender and household organization; and with “ideological” concerns such as the formation of social, religious, and ethnic identity. The research interests of the archaeologists on the faculty of the sponsoring departments include the early history of the city states of Italy, Greek colonization on the Black Sea, domestic architecture and spatial organization in Classical Greece, Achaemenid Persian art and cultural policy, Hellenistic trade and administration in Egypt and the Near East, the civic culture of Roman Asia Minor, and Roman private art. Like other branches of ancient studies, classical archaeology has its own specialized research methods, especially archaeological fieldwork and visual analysis, and its own theoretical discourse. Its methodological and theoretical concerns bring classical archaeology into regular and fruitful contact with other branches of archaeology in allied disciplines including Anthropology and Near Eastern Studies, and members of our faculty and student body are actively involved in ongoing debates on issues such as survey methodology, the archaeology of gender, and museum studies.

The purpose of the Interdepartmental Program is therefore to train graduate students in the numerous and varied aspects of the discipline of classical archaeology, defined in its widest sense as outlined above. In order for it to be possible for students to complete the Ph.D. by the end of their sixth year, we admit only a few highly qualified applicants with a B.A. or M.A. degree in a relevant field (normally in Classics, Classical Archaeology, Ancient History, or Ancient Art History), with significant preparation in one or both of the ancient and modern languages required by the Program — and above all with a high level of motivation. By limiting our annual intake to just 4 or 5 candidates for admission, we are at present able to provide adequate financial support for everyone throughout their half dozen years within IPCAA.

Students are encouraged both to build a broad and solid foundation of knowledge within the field, and to widen their intellectual horizons by taking advantage of the exceptionally varied range of course offerings and of faculty expertise in the half dozen or more academic units at the University of Michigan whose interests overlap with IPCAA’s. Professional enhancement is afforded via opportunities to teach (as a Graduate Student Instructor), to assist in archaeological research and the preparation of museum exhibitions and catalogues (as a Graduate Student Research Assistant), and to participate in archaeological fieldwork sponsored by the University of Michigan or other institutions (for which financial assistance is available). We pay considerable attention to assisting our graduates in finding employment — for instance, by compiling lists of available positions, maintaining placement dossiers for job seekers, and holding “mock” job interviews. IPCAA is now over 30 years old: its graduates, consequently, hold positions in academic university departments and in museums widely throughout North America and beyond.