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The Archaia qualification provides intellectual opportunities to graduate students with wide-ranging interests in the ancient and premodern worlds, extending their studies beyond departmental lines and incorporating methods from the social sciences and the humanities. Students fulfill the requirements of their home department, with a course of study individually tailored to allow for rigorous interdisciplinary work via seminars and independent study. The qualification is open to graduate students at Yale. For details, see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Programs and Policies.

The Core Seminar

The Workshop theme for 2018-2019 is “Sensory Experiences in Ancient Ritual”.  The associated core seminar meets in spring 2018 and is being taught by Carolyn Laferriere (History of Art).

The course is a comparative exploration of the role the senses played in the performance of ancient and premodern ritual, drawing from a range of ancient traditions including those of Greece, Rome, and Egypt, and from cultural traditions of the Near East, India, China, and the New World. Placing particular emphasis on the relationship between art and ritual, we discuss the methods available for reconstructing ancient sensory experience, how the ancient cultures conceived of the senses and perception, and how worshipers’ sensory experiences, whether visual, sonic, olfactory, gustatory, or haptic, were integral aspects in their engagement with the divine within religious ritual. This seminar incorporates material in the Yale Art Gallery.

The workshop theme for 2017–18 was “Slavery, Dependency and Genocide in the Ancient and Premodern World.” The associated Core Seminar was co-taught by Ben Kiernan (History) and Noel Lenski (Classics and History).

The course covers the subject of class and ethnic repression from the third millennium B.C.E. to the mid-second millennium C.E. It analyzes textual, epigraphic, and iconographic sources for slavery, dependency, and genocide in Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Han, Germanic, Angkorian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Malay, Mayan, and Aztec cultures. Questions discussed will include the terminology of slavery and genocide across cultures, the extent and intensity of these strategies over time and place, their role in shaping and even constituting social and economic relations, and the similarities and differences between societies in the uses to which they put mass repression.

Graduate Student Initiatives

The Ancient Judaism Workshop

An Ancient Judaism research workshop, intended to offer a setting for graduate students to share their current research with their fellow graduate students. This workshop allows a sense of academic sharing within the program and offers a suitable setting for students to present their work for evaluation and feedback before presenting their work to the larger academic community. The workshop also invites faculty members to share with the workshop’s participants some of their most recent research projects, in order to allow a vibrant atmosphere for academic discussions among faculty and graduate students. The workshop occasionally invites participants from other universities to share their recent academic findings, especially if the person in mind has recently completed a research project of interest to the participants of the workshop.

The Pre-modern Gender & Sexuality Working Group (PGSWG)

offers a forum for students and academic fellows to meet and tackle questions and problems with like-minded colleagues who have a shared interest in gender and sexuality as well as the pre-modern. Thus the group also addresses issues of sources, methods, and frameworks for the study of pre-modern societies. Read More

The Archaia Forum (formerly YIWSA)

The Yale Interdisciplinary Working Group for the Study of Antiquity (the Ancient Societies Working Group) is a forum for graduate students who take the distant past as their object of study. Once a month participants gather to hear two students from different departments give papers that serve as the basis for a broader discussion across conventional disciplinary boundaries. Our scope for the term “antiquity” (or “antiquities”) is broad: we welcome students of cultures across the globe and periods across the ages to share their approaches to the past.  At the end of each semester we host a panel with faculty from Yale and elsewhere to provide comparative perspectives on a selected topic. Y​IWSA​ is soliciting presentations for the academic year 2018-2019. Read more here.

The Late Antique Reading Group

is a monthly meeting of graduate students and faculty from across departments with the goal of fostering interdisciplinary discussions about the late antique world.

For more information or to be added to the email list please contact Emily Hurt (emily.hurt@yale,edu), CJ Rice (, or Danny Eastman (

Participating Departments and Schools


East Asian Languages and Literatures


History of Art

Judaic Studies

Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

Religious Studies

Yale Divinity School

Department of Anthropology 

Yale University Art Gallery