Ancient Societies Wor​kshop and Core Seminar

This interdisciplinary workshop serves as a meeting ground for those who work on the ancient world at Yale, and is an important forum that allows sustained conversation about a common theme. The workshop meets once a month during the academic year, and is supplemented by the core graduate seminar in the Archaia program. Presenters include Yale faculty and graduate students, as well as occasional visiting professors. The chronological scope of the seminar extends over the first millennium BCE and up through the premodern period; issues of reception are also considered. 

The theme for 2023-2024 is “Ancient Musical Thought,” with a focus on ancient China and ancient Greece, co-taught by Pauline LeVen and Mick Hunter.

This series examines the entanglement of music and musical thought in various forms of social, political, and religious behaviors across ancient cultures, with a particular focus on Greece (LeVen) and China (Hunter). Rather than focusing solely on musical practice or music theory, we ask how ancient thinkers made sense of music, and how they used music to make sense of the world. Questions we are interested in include, but are not limited to, the following: How did ancient thinkers understand the place of music within society, the ideal state, and the cosmos? What role did musical training and connoisseurship play in education? What musical forms were used for conceptualizing other ideas (political, metaphysical, religious…)? How was the relationship between music and wisdom represented? And how do the answers to these questions inform comparative study?

Organizers Mick Hunter and Pauline LeVen

List of Ancient Societies Workshop themes from previous years


For more information, register here:

Previous Conferences 

“In the crucible of Empire: resistance, revolts and revolutions in the Greco-Roman world”, October 30–31, 2014.

Please visit this page for the conference proceedings


The Archaia Forum is an interdisciplinary working group for graduate students who work on the ancient and premodern world (broadly conceivd). We welcome students of any historical period in any geographical region to join us in discussion of what it means to study the past. We will meet once a month for events of various types, including roundtable discussions, professional development, and student presentations. The Forum is intended as a venue for those involved in the the Archaia Qualification to workshop their capstone projects. Our overarching goal is to provide an open and collegial space to build community, receive feedback on research, and engage deeply with interdisciplinary themes and methodologies. We will issue a call for presentation proposals at the beginning of each semester, but we also welcome proposals and suggestions for other events on an ongoing basis. Any questions and concerns should be directed towards the coordinators,  Jasmine Sahu-Hough ( and James Brown-Kinsella (

Women in Ancient Studies Forum (WASF)  Women in Ancient Studies Forum at Yale University is a forum for scholars in ancient and premodern studies that builds an academic community across disciplinary boundaries. No matter which region or premodern period you study, which department you are affiliated with, or which methodologies you use, we hope you will check out some of our events. Our monthly meetings range from panel discussions and receptions to smaller lunches with faculty members. The one common theme is bringing people from different disciplines and career stages together and discussing questions pertaining to women, academia, and professional development. We’re interested in identifying and naming systemic problems, but also in creating spaces to address these problems. Several of our events are also designed especially for women in ancient and premodern studies to build professional relationships at every stage of their careers.

Cultures of the Classical ‘Cultures of the Classical’ was a network running from 2011-2017 that drew together scholars at Yale who work on receptions of Greco–Roman Classical Antiquity, and the Classical Tradition (including comparative Classical Traditions and rival antiquities). We are particularly interested in complex plays with the past in which texts and works of art, and indeed whole cultural movements, have appropriated aspects of Classical Antiquity while simultaneously asserting their distance from ancient Greece and Rome.  The scholars involve remain at the cutting edge of this kind of research.

Greco-Roman Lunch is sponsored by the Classics Department and is held bi-weekly, on the first and third (and sometimes fifth) Mondays of the month in the Fellows’ Room at Saybrook College. The invitation list consists of faculty and graduate students from the Departments of Classics, History, Art History, EALL, Judaic Studies, Religious Studies, and others, and they convene at 12:00 for lunch followed by a presentation by one of their number at 12:30. A presentation of up to 30 minutes is followed by questions. The focus of papers ranges freely from literary to archaeological to cultural. Lunch is provided free to those who are not on a meal plan. For more information please contact the organizers: Sylva Kroeber and Emily Helm (Classics).

Medieval Lunch Colloquium The weekly Medieval Lunch Colloquium brings together medievalists from a variety of departments in the University for informal presentations and discussion. At each meeting, a speaker presents work-in-progress to an interdisciplinary audience of graduate students, faculty and staff working in medieval studies. Speakers include both Yale faculty and graduate students, with occasional out-of-town guests.

The Hebrew Bible Lecture Series is co-sponsored by the Yale Divinity School and the Program in Judaic Studies. Every year it brings to campus some of the most significant scholars in the field of Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism, both junior and senior, to share their recent research. These lectures make available to the Yale community the breadth of scholarship currently being produced on ancient Israelite and Jewish history, literature, beliefs, and practices.

Yale Lectures in Medieval Studies The Medieval Studies Program organizes Yale Lectures in Medieval Studies, an interdisciplinary lecture series which brings to Yale America’s most creative scholars of the Middle Ages, presenting innovative and exciting work in fields such as paleography, codicology, liturgical studies, music, history of art, archaeology, history, literature, and philosophy. The series, which is run by students in medieval disciplines, emphasizes intellectual diversity and rigorous scholarship and is a vital part of Yale’s interdisciplinary approach to the medieval period.

The Annual Rostovtzeff Lecture and Colloquium

The lecture honors the legacy of Michael I. Rostovtzeff, a titan of Ancient History and one of the greats of twentieth-century historical scholarship. Rostovtzeff taught at Yale from 1925 until his retirement in 1944. He was a world authority on Hellenistic and Roman history and wrote widely on ancient history, particularly in the field of economic history. The annual lecture brings scholars to Yale who work in areas pioneered by Rostovtzeff, but whose field-changing research takes Ancient History in new directions.
Visit Rostovzeff page at the Yale Classics website

Archaia Study Tour

ARCHAIA Study-abroad tour to Greece and Turkey, spring 2023

(written by: Elizabeth Hane)

On April 29th, 2023, students in Buckingham Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation Laura Nasrallah’s course “The Archaeology of the Roman Empire for the Study of the New Testament and Early Christianity” flew to Izmir for their more than two-week adventure across Greece and Turkey. Joined by now-Vassar Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman Studies CJ Rice, Yale Religious Studies Ph.D. candidates Julia Nations-Quiroz and CJ Rice (now assistant professor of Greek and Roman studies at Vassar College), Stanford Teresa Hihn Moore Professor of Religious Studies Michael Penn, and (in Turkey) their fearless tour guide and local expert Gülin Pazaroglu, ten students trekked across urban cityscapes, hiked rocky hills to sacred spaces, and sketched objects in over fourteen different museums.

Beginning with Sardis, students learned about the synagogue and its complex presence in the Roman city. Students then learned about amuletic inscriptions in Miletos, walked amidst the towering columns of Didyma and its daemonic inscriptions, and discussed graffiti and economics with archaeologists at elite domestic structures in Ephesos. On the road to Pamukkale, students stopped at Aphrodisias, where they sat amidst the theatre and reflected on the competition between the Blue and the Green factions during the late antique period. Near Pamukkale’s thermal springs, students debated the economic competition between nearby cities of Laodikeia and Hieropolis in ancient literary sources. Thinking through the impacts of such a geographically active area, students utilized New Materialist thinking to consider nature and matter alongside infrastructure, ritual, and everyday life. Finally, in Istanbul, students were joined by former Archaia postdoc and now Bard Assistant Professor of Art History Anne Chen to learn from her expertise in imperial architecture, building use and reuse, and the challenges of excavation in a continually-inhabited city.

This academic pilgrimage concluded in Greece, where students stayed at Kavala, Thessaloniki, and Athens. Students learned about public latrines and ancient Christian architecture in Philippi. Before departing from the group, Professor Chen gave a final lecture on the imperial palaces of Thessalonikē and the Tetrarchs’ heated competition and collaboration with each other, as represented in the so-called Arch of Galerius. Once in Athens, students took day trips around the city and to nearby Corinth to learn about ancient burial practices and archaeological methods for excavating graves, considered the influence of Neoplatonic theurgy on early Christian ritual, and looked out from the top of the Acropolis on the bustling heart of Greece. After seventeen days abroad, and with newfound knowledge on the city layouts, structures, and landscapes of people in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean, students parted ways—some towards further archaeological research, others to well-deserved rest back home.

Just behind the theatre at Miletos, Laura Nasrallah, right, discusses the amuletic inscription with her students. These amuletic inscriptions feature heavily in her forthcoming book, Ancient Christians and the Power of Curses. Image courtesy of CJ Rice.

Claire Campbell (YDS MAR ‘24) and Alana Zimath (YDS MAR ‘24), departing from the theatre complex, cheerfully walk through the remains of Miletos,. Image courtesy of Lizzy Hane.

Over rock and under tree, students march through a fig grove towards the Grotto of Paul and Thecla at Ephesos. Image courtesy of CJ Rice.

Outside the Grotto of St. Paul and Thecla, students ready themselves to enter the tight space of the cave. Image courtesy of CJ Rice.

Alyssa Zimmer (YDS MAR ‘24) gazes upon the painting of Thecla’s mother and Paul in the Grotto of St. Paul and Thecla at Ephesos. Image courtesy of CJ Rice.

Bark-iologists at Ephesos, hard at work looking for inscriptions. Image courtesy of Lizzy Hane.

Lizzy Hane (MAR ‘24) looks upon an inscription of a Latin letter sent by emperors Valentian, Valens, and Gratianus to Festus, Governor of Ephesos. Image courtesy of Michelle Keefe.

Students gather around hot coals to warm themselves after getting caught in the rain at Aphrodisias. Front: Rachel Park (MAR ‘24) and Rachel Beaver (MAR ‘24). Back: Mikayla Bezzant (MAR ‘23). Claire Campbell (MAR ‘24), Alyssa Zimmer (MAR ‘24), CJ Rice, and Maria Chen (MAR ‘24). Image courtesy of Gülin Pazaroglu.

Excitement and anxiety brew as Alana Zimath (MAR ‘24) reads aloud prophecies for each student at Hierapolis, based upon divinatory inscriptions found on the site. While Prof. Michael Penn, left, and Gülin Pazaroglu, center, appear pleased with their results, Claire Campbell (MAR ‘24), right, awaits in curiosity. Image courtesy of Lizzy Hane.

Mikayla Bezzant (MAR ‘23) points out the architectural features of the latrines at Hierapolis to onlooking students Claire Campbell (MAR ‘24), seen above Mikayla, and Alana Zimath (MAR ‘24), who is behind Mikayla. Image courtesy of Lizzy Hane.

Mikayla Bezzant (MAR ‘23) and Lizzy Hane (MAR ‘24) take a selfie in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul! Though the company arrived early in the morning, the sacred site was nevertheless packed. Photo courtesy of Mikayla Bezzant.

Cat, seated upon a Theodosian capital, engages in paws-on archaeology. She attempts to discern the material’s warmth in front of the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. Image courtesy of Lizzy Hane. 

After a six-hour bus ride from Istanbul, CJ Rice, Julia Nations-Quiroz, Michelle Keefe, and Prof. Anne Chen braved the steps up towards the Acropolis at Kavala. Here they can be seen smiling after a successful hike at the end of a long day. Image courtesy of Rice.

All smiles and joy atop the Areopagus in Athens! From left to right: Prof. Laura Nasrallah, CJ Rice, Michelle Keefe (MAR ’23, now Ph.D. Medieval Studies, Yale University), Julia Nations-Quiroz, and Rachel Park (MAR ‘24). Image courtesy of Rachel Park.

Excited at the Acropolis Museum in Athens! Julia Nations-Quiroz and Michelle Keefe come face to face with the original caryatids. Image courtesy of Nations-Quiroz.

Archaia is grateful to the MacMillan Center for making this study tour possible.

Click here for past tours


Please email us your suggestions or let us know what we have missed.