Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Department ofClassics and Ancient
Mediterranean Studies

Welcome to Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS) at Penn State!

CAMS is the study of cultures that arose and flourished around the Mediterranean basin (including Egypt, Greece, Rome, Anatolia, Israel, Mesopotamia, and North Africa) from ancient Mesopotamia (ca. 4000 BCE) to the end of Greco-Roman antiquity (ca. 600 CE). CAMS investigates the whole scope of the ancient Mediterranean world and trains students to interpret the linguistic, historical, and archaeological evidence of its cultures.

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Committed to Diversity

The Department of Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS) at Penn State is devoted to fostering an environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion for all who study the ancient world. As an open and welcoming academic community, we embrace a view of the ancient Mediterranean and its legacies as the common heritage of all people, regardless of gender, color, race, nationality, religion, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

In keeping with our conviction that scholarship on antiquity benefits from a multiplicity of voices and perspectives, CAMS supports diversity in research areas, classroom activities, and above all in its membership, especially among groups historically under-represented in the field.

We affirm Penn State’s commitment as a public institution of higher education to effectively serve the members of our communities at all levels – on campus, across the state, and beyond – and we welcome the input of our students, colleagues, and friends as we pursue this goal.

Thad Olson promoted

CAMS’s own Thad Olson has been promoted to Associate Teaching Professor of Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies. Prof. Olson is known to students and faculty for his broad array of courses in the CAMS department (e.g., Greek & Roman Civilization, Classical Mythology, Ancient Warfare, Latin language, and more) and for leading the CAMS Rome summer study abroad program several times. Pictured here is the Jan 25 reception at the Hintz Family Alumni Center recognizing recently-promoted teaching faculty. Congratulations, Thad!

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CAMS Department welcomes new colleagues

The CAMS Department is excited to have welcomed two new Assistant Teaching Professors this semester: Dr. Ziting (Rebecca) Wang is an Egyptologist and Dr. Michael Stahl is an expert in the Hebrew Bible. Check out their department profiles to learn more about their research and teaching. Welcome to Penn State, Drs. Wang and Stahl!

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Featured Graduate

LeMhai Baity selected student marshal in CAMS

Congratulations to LeMhai Baity, our spring 2023 Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies student marshal in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts!

LeMhai is the daughter of Regan Mckinney-Baity and LeMorris Baity of Akron, Ohio. A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Scholar, she is graduating with bachelor of arts degrees in Anthropology and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies. At Penn State, LeMhai worked in Professor Jose Capriles and Laurie Eccles’ Radiocarbon Lab, Professor David Puts’ Behavioral Endocrinology and Evolution Lab, and the Matson Museum of Anthropology. She was also a member of Lambda Alpha PSU, the central Pennsylvania chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America, and Penn State Archery Club. After graduation, LeMhai plans to attend graduate school at a university abroad to pursue a master’s degree in classical archaeology.

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April 19, 2024
4:00 pm
102 Weaver and via Zoom
Sarah Iles Johnston is the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Religion and Professor of Classics at The Ohio State University. She is the author of The Story of Myth (2018), Ancient Greek Divination (2008) Restless Dead: Encounters Between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece (1999) and the co-author of Ritual Texts for the Afterlife: Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets (2007; 2nd ed. 2018), as well as the editor or co-editor of several other volumes. Her first public-facing book, Gods and Mortals: Ancient Greek Myths for Modern Readers, appeared in 2023.
March 16, 2024
1:00 pm
102 Weaver
Join the CAMS faculty on March 16 for an immersive journey to discover the ancient scripts, writing materials, and technologies! Click on the post for more info and registration.
March 15, 2024
5:30 pm
Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library and online via Zoom
Seventy-five years ago, roughly a thousand scrolls were discovered in caves near the shore of the Dead Sea at a site called Qumran. Lost for over two thousand years, these scrolls have since revolutionized our understanding of the Bible, ancient Judaism, and the Christian New Testament. The Dead Sea Scrolls preserve our earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible along with a treasure trove of previously unknown ancient Jewish writings. The academic study of the Dead Sea Scrolls has reintroduced to the world a long-forgotten religious community.
March 11, 2024
5:30 pm
102 Weaver and via Zoom
This lecture will discuss how the analysis of materiality and scribal practice of the Greco-Egyptian Magical Handbooks on Papyrus provides a window into the sources and the compilation of magical knowledge in Antiquity.
February 23, 2024
12:15 pm
102 Weaver and via Zoom
This talk proposes a novel, working hypothesis of the socio-material conditions driving early Christian collecting, compositional, and interpretive habits in the latter part of the second century. Integrating recent scholarship that considers Pauline influence on the Gospels with work in classics on the editorial and authorial logics of collections and miscellany, it situates the textual practices of so-called Christian intellectuals within the broader literary and agonistic intellectual scene of imperial Rome.
December 1, 2023
4:00 pm
Weaver Building, 102 and Online via Zoom
The Babylonian Epic of Creation, also known as Enuma Elish, was the most widely studied cuneiform text in first millennium BCE Mesopotamia. Initially composed to extol the Babylonian god Marduk and his home city Babylon, it was also popular in Assyria, where it served as a blueprint for the autocratic model promoted by the rulers of the Assyrian Empire. As time went by, the epic informed the religious identities of a variety of cities and states in the Levant, and even left traces in the works of some Greek philosophers. But on several occasions, first in Assyria and later in the Biblical book of Genesis, the epic and the cultic festivals during which it was recited also became the target of newly introduced forms of polemical “deconstruction” that changed the religious discourse of the times in decisive ways. This lecture analyzes the volatile history of a text whose theo-ideological rigidity did not preclude it from being subjected to a number of radical reinterpretations over a period of some one-thousand years.