Congratulations to Dr. James White (PhD UCSB 2020), who recently filed his doctoral dissertation on bows and spears in Achaemenid Persia! Look for Dr. White’s numerous entries in the forthcoming Herodotus Encyclopedia (Wiley Blackwell, 2020).
I recently contributed to an Oxford University Press blog post on Williams Sanders Scarborough, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA), and black classical scholarship. A video recording of my 2019 lecture in Athens about John Wesley Gilbert, the first African American member of the ASCSA (1890-91), is available here. You can read my articles about Prof. Gilbert here and here, and read a Greek news interview here.
I study the history of ancient West Asia, including Greece and Achaemenid Persia. My research focuses on war, society, and culture in the Greek and Achaemenid world from ca. 650-330 BC. I am also interested in receptions, interpretations, and representations of antiquity in the United States, especially amongst African American classical scholars during the late 19th century.
I am currently completing a book about John Wesley Gilbert (1863-1923), the first African American scholar to attend the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
I teach graduate and undergraduate ancient history courses, survey courses in ancient world history, and classes in the history of warfare from antiquity to the present. I have run archaeological field schools and travel-study programs in Greece and Turkey, including a Summer Session for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.
I serve as faculty advisor for the UCSB Chapter of the Student Veterans of America. If you are a student veteran on campus or a veteran interested in attending UCSB, please feel free to contact me for information about the SVA@UCSB and about support for student veterans at UCSB. You may also visit the web site for UCSB Veterans and Military Services.
Graduate Study in Ancient History at UCSB
UCSB has a vibrant, inclusive, multidisciplinary ancient studies community that brings together faculty and students from History, Classics, History of Art & Architecture, Religious Studies, Anthropology, and other departments. Our Ancient History PhD program emphasizes both research and teaching. We provide rigorous graduate mentoring in a collegial, supportive environment. Through our seminars, lecture series, and other events, our graduate students have the opportunity to meet distinguished visiting scholars from around the world. Our PhDs have found success in tenure-track positions at research universities and liberal arts colleges, and in non-academic careers.
For more information about the UCSB graduate program in Ancient History, please read our departmental field description. I will not be accepting graduate applicants for the 2021-2022 academic year. If you are interested in applying for 2022-2023, please contact me before submitting your application.
This page was last updated on: 28.ix.2020
Research and Teaching Interests:
- Ancient Greece & Achaemenid Persia
- History of Warfare
- Archaeology and Epigraphy
- African American Scholars and Classical Studies in the 19th Century
- John Wesley Gilbert, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and the Development of Archaeology in Greece
- “African American Travelers Encounter Greece, ca. 1850-1900” (in preparation for American Journal of Philology special issue)
- “That First Trip to Central Greece:” John Pickard’s 1890 account of the first ASCSA trip through Phocis and Boeotia; with material from Andrew Fossum’s 1937 account of the same trip.
- Depictions of Achaemenid History in 19th-20th Century U.S. School Textbooks
- Civil War and Revolt in Achaemenid Persia
- ARCHE Project: Advanced Research in the Comparative History of Empires. Digital Athenian Empire and online atlas of Achaemenid Persia (under construction).
- [links to recent online publications on John Wesley Gilbert may be found at the top right of this web page]
- Articles on Opountian Lokris, Arms & Armor, Armies, and Immortals in C. Baron (ed.), The Herodotus Encyclopedia. Wiley-Blackwell, November 2020.
- “Xenophon and His Times”
in M. Flower (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Xenophon, 15-36. Cambridge University Press, 2016. Reviewed in Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
- Globalizing Borderlands Studies in Europe and North America
co-edited with Michael North (Greifswald University). University of Nebraska Press, 2016. (Now available in Korean translation)
- Review of Richard Stoneman, Xerxes: A Persian Life.
American Historical Review (2016) 121.4: 1343-1344.
- “Cyrus the Younger and Artaxerxes II, 401 BC: an Achaemenid Civil War Reconsidered”
in J. Collins and J. Manning (eds.), Revolt and Resistance in the Ancient Classical World and the Near East: In the Crucible of Empire, 103-121. Brill, 2016.
- “Tissaphernes and the Achaemenid Defense of Western Anatolia, 412-395 BC”
in J. Armstrong (ed.), Circum Mare: Themes in Ancient Warfare, 262-281. Brill, 2016.
- “The Classical Greek Experience”
in B. Campbell and L. Tritle (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Warfare, 143-161. Oxford University Press, 2013.
- The Persian Empire
DVD/audio series, 24 thirty-minute lectures. The Great Courses/The Teaching Company, 2012. Click the link above for a video preview and a complete list of lectures.
- “The Fight for Ancient Sicily”
Archaeology 64.1 (2011), 38-41.
- “Urban Warfare in the Classical Greek World”
in Victor Hanson (ed.), Makers of Ancient Strategy. Princeton University Press, 2010. Read a review here.
- “Land Warfare in Xenophon’s Hellenika“
in Robert Strassler (ed.), The Landmark Xenophon’s Hellenika, 391-394. Pantheon Books, 2009.
- A Greek Army on the March: Soldiers and Survival in Xenophon’s Anabasis
Cambridge University Press, 2007. Nominated for the 2008 Runciman Award. Reviews here and here.
- “Xenophon’s Anabasis and the Origins of Military Autobiography”
in Alex Vernon (ed.), Arms and the Self: War, the Military, and Autobiographical Discourse, 141-160. Kent State University Press, 2005.
- “For there were many hetairai in the army: Women in Xenophon’s Anabasis.”
The Ancient World 35.2 (2004), 145-165.
- “Urban Combat at Olynthos, 348 B.C.”
British Archaeological Reports S958 (2001), 11-22.
- History 2A: World Civilizations to AD 750
An introduction to the early civilizations of Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Mediterranean, and Oceania. Next offered: Spring 2021.
- History 111A: Early Greece, 3000-750 BC
Topics include Neolithic culture in the Aegean, Bronze Age Minoan & Mycenaean civilization, the Late Bronze Age international system, the historicity of the Trojan War, and early Iron Age Greece.
- History 111B: The Archaic and Classical Greek World, 750-323 BC
Topics include the polis (“city-state”), Greek-Persian interactions, the society and culture of classical Greece, the Peloponnesian War, and the rise of Macedon.
- History 111C: The Hellenistic World, 323-30 BC
Topics include the campaigns of Alexander, the formation of the Hellenistic kingdoms, Greek federal states, Hellenistic science and technology, and ethnicity and culture in the Hellenistic world.
- History 111F: Achaemenid Persia, 559-330 BC
Ancient Persia from Cyrus to Alexander. Topics include the development of Achaemenid imperialism, economic and social history of the empire, art and architecture, and cultural interactions amongst Persians, Greeks, and others. Next offered: Winter 2021.
- History 111R: Research Seminar in Ancient History
Research seminar for history majors. Participants write a 15-20 page paper. Fall 2020
- History 111T: Topics in Ancient History
Upper-division lecture course; topics vary by quarter. Next offered: The Neo-Assyrian Empire, Fall 2021 (tentative).
- History 201E: Reading Seminar in Ancient History
Recent topics (2017-2019): Historiography of Classical Greece & Achaemenid Persia; Greek and Near Eastern Economies and Societies; Comparative Histories of Ancient Greece and Early China.
- History 211A & 211B: Research Seminar in Ancient History
Most recent topic: Civil War, Revolt, and Rebellion in the Greek & Achaemenid World.
Honors and Professional Activities:
Honors and Awards
- Harold J. Plous Award, UCSB, 2005-2006
- Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award, UCSB, 2003-2004
- Peace Studies Program Fellow, Cornell University, 1998
- James Rignall Wheeler Fellow, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 1996-1997
- Managing Committee Member, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
- President, Santa Barbara Society, Archaeological Institute of America
- Mitrou Archaeological Project. Field School Co-Director, 2005.
- Cornell Halai and East Lokris Project. Excavation Staff, 1999-2004.
Media Appearances and Public History
- John Wesley Gilbert at Lake Junalaska– The Mountaineer (Waynesville, NC)
- The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia– Hellenic Public Radio 91.5FM NYC.
- Persian History in California Public Schools– Pacifica Radio KPFA 94.1 Berkeley.
- What do you know about Ancient Persia?– ‘Ōlelo Community Media, Honolulu.
- History Advocates: A Community Effort for Accurate Portrayal of Persian History in California Schools.
- Hoplite Battle at Norwich University
- The King and Us: Perspectives on Cyrus of Anshan (The Octavian Report, NYC, May 2017)
- The Archaeological Site of Skarkos on Ios (informational text)
Web Links and Resources
- Ancient Mediterranean Studies PhD Emphasis
Our interdisciplinary program brings together faculty and students from six different UCSB departments.
- Association of Ancient Historians
The premier professional organization of ancient historians in North America.
Essential research tools, publications, and information for the study of Achaemenid Persia. Founded by Prof. Pierre Briant.
- The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
A center for research and teaching since 1881, the ASCSA is the oldest U.S. overseas research institution.
- Collège de France: lectures on Achaemenid History
Watch lectures by Pierre Briant, Mark Garrison, and Michael Jursa.
- University of Chicago: Preserving Persepolis
Includes a 12-minute video with aerial photos and 3D reconstructions of ancient Persepolis.
- Internet Resources for Ancient History and Classics
Links to databases, bibliographies, and other research tools for studying ancient history.
- Encyclopaedia Iranica
A research tool for studying Iranian civilization and culture from ancient times to the present.
- Attic Inscriptions Online
Texts, translations, and commentaries for hundreds of Athenian inscriptions.
- War: a documentary by Gwynne Dyer
A classic 1983 series on warfare and warriors from ancient to modern times.