Classical Archaeology and Ancient History Reading List


Might you be interested in studying ancient Greek and/or Latin when you come up? If so please let me know this as soon as possible, because the University needs to know how many may want to take up this option. In the first year you can do Elementary languages; in the second part of the course you can do further language study (roughly AS Level onwards). If you are interested you should consider joining one of the Joint Association of Classical Teachers residential courses in the summer: grants are available through me. Please contact me for further details.


Spend as much time as you can in the British Museum. Join a dig if you can.

Ancient History

We start with two general periods:

Greek History 550450 BC

Read and enjoy Herodotus in the Robin Waterfield translation, edited with an introduction and notes by Carolyn Dewald (Oxford University Press, 2008).

The following general books are useful:

Oswyn Murray Early Greece (second edition, Fontana) second half
A.R. BurnPersia and the Greeks
Robin Osborne Greece in the Making, 1200479 B.C. (Routledge, 1996), later chapters
E.R. DoddsThe Greeks and the Irrational (1951, repr.): a classic study of Greek society

Roman History

Read the Penguin edition of the Letters of Cicero (Leters to Friends and Letters to Atticus) in three volumes.

The following general books are useful:

R. Syme The Roman Revolution (1939: the classic account and the greatest literary work of its generation)
H.H. Scullard From the Gracchi to Nero (good text book)
Michael Crawford The Roman Republic (2nd edn., 1992): later chapters
Colin Wells The Roman Empire (2nd edn., 1992): earlier chapters
Mary Beard Pompeii (Paperback)
Mary Beard SPQR. A History of Ancient Rome (2015) — engaging, popular and very well written

Rosalind Thomas, Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History, July 2023