Students sit in a Roman ampitheater

Classical Mediterranean and Middle East

Travel through time with us.


Understand how ancient and foreign cultures helped shape the modern world.

The study of our Classical Mediterranean and Middle East world awakens the past. These ancient civilizations influence everything from religion, politics, language, and architecture in our world today. Studying the diverse worlds of antiquity sheds light on contemporary concerns; for example, the Hebrew bible, Plato, and the Qur’an contribute to conversations around ethnicity, feminism, LGBTQ concerns, religion and science, ethics, collective memory, and other issues that remain relevant today.

Why study classics at Macalester?

  • Take stimulating and challenging courses, including the January in Rome course (past students delivered presentations in the middle of the Roman Colosseum).
  • Read some of the world’s greatest storytellers—the ancient Greeks.
  • Design a curricular path through the parts of the ancient world which most capture your imagination. Our supportive faculty will help you align your studies to your career goals and interests.
  • Get creative. Past Honors projects include the production of a Greek play, a poem in Latin hexameter, and a screenplay about Mary Magdalene.
  • Interested in learning Arabic? Greek? Latin? Hebrew? We teach them all. For a serious study of history, religion, politics, or literature—in the past or present—you need to be able to read the languages in which people communicate their ideas. Here you can read the Qur'an, the Odyssey, Newton's writings on the laws of motion, and Genesis.
  • Obtain funding for summer research projects and field work.
  • Develop skills that apply to any career: writing, critical reading, language acquisition, and argumentation.

Study away opportunities

Study away is integral to our curriculum. Semester programs range from Ireland to Jordan, from Modern Standard Arabic to material conservation, from Homer to the reception of the film Gladiator. We also offer a January course exploring Rome and Pompeii and a summer archaeological excavation of a Roman temple site in northern Israel.

Recent student projects

  • Ancient Foodies: Modern Misconceptions, Alternative Uses, and Recipes for Food in Ancient Rome
  • A Stagnant Crisis: Examining Water Scarcity in Jordan through a Public Health Lens
Dispatches to our COVID-19 Dispersed Diaspora

Life after Macalester

Graduates apply their training to law and medicine, to corporate, governmental or non-profit worlds, and to graduate school.

Classics in the cities

A few (of a long list) of nearby places to intern: the Science Museum of Minnesota, Somali Museum of Minnesota, and Nova Classical Academy.

Almost every term we attend a play inspired by the classical world at one of the metro area’s amazing theaters—not to mention the nationally renowned Twin Cities Arab Film Festival.

Classes like Women, Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Greece & Rome involve a field trip and project at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Join our community

  • Live in the Arabic House–immerse yourself in the Arabic language. Residents share a weekly meal and organize cultural activities throughout the semester.
  • Classics Cookie Party–a department tradition for over 20 years, take a break from studying to decorate cookies with your friends and professors.
  • Annual Spring Picnic–enjoy delicious food and lively conversation.