Ancient History Courses and Classes

A degree in ancient history focuses primarily on Rome and Greece, their societies and cultures, and how they influenced the development of Western civilization. Keep reading to find out what you can expect to learn in ancient history courses.

Essential Information

Coursework in ancient history provides students with a thorough understanding of the Greco-Roman world from antiquity to the medieval period. Typically these degrees are offered to students at four-year colleges and universities interested in the humanities. Some schools offer graduate degrees or certificates online, though these are not common.

Concepts covered in ancient history courses include:

  • Greek and Latin Language
  • Archaeology
  • Cartography
  • Epic and Dramatic Literature
  • Military History
  • Mythology
  • Philosophy and Religion

List of Courses

The Roman Empire

Students will engage the numerous themes and players responsible for the rise of Rome. Students also study the justifications and consequences of imperialism under the Roman Empire. Social topics look into Roman slavery and the varying degrees of freedom, as well as social mobility. Finally, students analyze the fall of the Roman Empire and how it may have been avoided. This course is usually taken near the beginning of an ancient history degree program.

Greek Society

This course provides students with an overview of Athens and other Greek city-states, and like the Roman Empire courses, Greek society courses may be divided into two or three parts, according to era or topic. Students learn about the economic and social aspects of Greek city-states between the ninth and fourth centuries B.C.E. Students also look at the Greek gods, myths and cultures up to the death of Alexander the Great.

Historical Research

Ancient history research courses provide students with the tools they need to interpret ancient languages, handle evidence and distinguish between civilizations. Archeology, epigraphy, textual criticism and databases are covered. Advanced research techniques for ancient history programs may include numismatics, the history of coinage, as well as the latest in digital documentation. This course lays a foundation for research used in later courses, so it is often taken early on in a degree program.

Ancient Warfare

From Imperial Rome to Alexander the Great, there were many instances of warfare and rebellion. Students study weapons, warriors and war strategies used in the Greco-Roman world. Students will look at the cost and consequences of war, as well as how Greek and Roman war strategies differed from those in other parts of the world.

Ancient Literature

Students study literature written by Greek and Roman authors and philosophers, paying closer attention to the works of Homer and Virgil. Students gain a deeper understanding of Greek mythology, oral traditions, and drama. Readings in law, philosophy and mythology accompany Greek and Latin prose.

Ancient Medicine

This course is taken as an elective near the end of the program and after students have a better understanding of ancient civilizations. Students research and study ancient medicinal therapies used as treatments for disease. Physicians of Greco-Roman times are studied, including Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine.

Ancient Religions

This elective teaches students how ancient people incorporated religious practices into their lives. Students research Egyptian, Greek, and Roman gods and goddesses, focusing on the purposes of each deity. Students also look at cross-cultural deities, such as the presence of Isis in both Egypt and the Greco-Roman Empire. Students also study Greek and Roman religions in comparison with Judaism and the emergence of Christianity.

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