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Michigan State University

Classical Studies: Art & Archaeology

Ajax carrying the body of Achilles. Attic black-figure lekythos, ca. 510 BC. From Sicily. Housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Want to find more resources on art and archaeology?  Try using the following Library of Congress subject headings in our online catalog:

Antiquities -- Place or region (Antiquities --Turkey for example)
Archaeology -- Place or region (Archaeology -- Crete for example)
Archaeology and history -- Mediterranean Region
Architecture, Classical
Architecture, Greek
Architecture, Roman
Art, Ancient
Art, Classical
Art Greek
Art Roman
Classical antiquities
Excavations (Archaeology)
Greece -- Antiquities
Rome -- Antiquities

Music Lesson; Attic red-figure hydria, ca. 510 BC. From Vulci. Housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Equestrian lesson: older trainer and young riders. Side B of an Attic red-figure kylix, ca. 510 BC. From Vulci. Housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Warrior leaving home. Side A of an Attic red-figure stamnos, 440–430 BC. From Vulci. Housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Maenade and Satyr Confrontation from Greek Mythology. Housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Slaying a Centaur; Centauromachy. Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, ca. 480 BC. Housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Gods Featured in the Odyssey

Gods and Mythological Creatures of the Odyssey in Art, a slideshow courtesy of the Oxford University Press Blog, August 7, 2014.

Online Resources

Art & Archaeology Artifact Browser  : Look through a massive library of art objects, sites, and buildings courtesy of the Perseus Digital Library. The library's catalogs document 1305 coins, 1909 vases, 2003 sculptures, 179 sites, 140 gems, and 424 buildings. Each catalog entry has a description of the object and its context; most have images. Descriptions and images have been produced in collaboration with many museums, institutions, and scholars. Catalog information and keywords have been taken from standard sources, which are cited in the entries for each object.
The initial search page allows the user to select object type, and is divided into the following categories: architecture; coins; gems; sculpture; sites; and vases. Each section is then divided into further sub-categories in order to help the user to narrow their search for a particular object (for example, if looking for a building in the architecture category one may search by site, building, period, architect or type). Entries for each object give a brief summary with links to other pages of Perseus which can provide further detail. These include images and secondary source material which refer to the selected object. This will be a useful reference tool and starting point for those seeking information on specific ancient archaeological sites and artifacts.

Art History Resources on the Web: Ancient Greece by Chris Witcombe, Professor of Art History at Sweet Briar College, Virginia. Extensive collection of links to museums, projects, archeaological sites, sorted by period and subject. Includes indvidual named images of vases, friezes and monuments. 

ArtStor : This database contains a health dose of classical Greek and Roman art and architectural images.

Beazley Archive : The art of ancient Greece and Rome, and its collection and reception since antiquity. Courtesy of Oxford's Stelios loannou Centre for Classical & Byzantine Studies.

The British Museum : Ancient Greece Exhibit : Experience this epic and exciting website, which explores the world of ancient Greece using hundreds of objects from the British Museum.

British Museum : Chariot Racing in Ancient Rome Online Exhibit. Does it make you want to watch Ben-Hur?

British Museum : Cleopatra of Egypt -- From History to Myth Online Exhibit.  Does it make you want to watch one of our versions of the movie Cleopatra?

British Museum : Gladiators in Ancient Rome Online Exhibit.  Does it make you want to watch Gladiator?  Did you know there were female gladiators?  Did you know that the excavators of the gladiatorial school in Pompeii found a richly adorned woman, obviously of high social status, among the gladiators. Had the eruption of Vesuvius brought a clandestine love affair to a terrible end?

Cleopatra : A Multimedia Guide to the Ancient World : An interactive guide to the Ancient Art Collection of The Art Institute of Chicago. This Web site is named after Cleopatra, queen of Egypt from 51 to 30 B.C., because she embodied the three great cultures of the ancient Mediterranean region: she was Greek by birth, ruled Egypt as its queen, and lost her kingdom to Rome.

Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum : An illustrated catalog of more than 100,000 ancient vases. Users can search or browse by country or museum and do advance searches by fabric, shape or technique.

Dyabola: Subject Catalogues of Publications on the Ancient World : Note: click Activate IP Access and Press Start to open database.
Reproduces catalogs of publications on the history of art and of the ancient world. Contains the subject catalogs of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome, the Bibliography of Iberian Archaeology from the German Archaeological Institute in Madrid, and the Archaeology of Roman Provinces from RGK Frankfurt.)

Fitzwilliam Museum Greek Amphora Collection

Fitzwilliam Museum Greek and Roman Gallery BBC Video Clip.  Did you know it's possible to restore a cracked Greek Amphora or what a Roman "swiss army knife" looked like?

Fitzwilliam Museum Online Exhibition, see From the Land of the Golden Fleece: Tomb Treasures of Ancient Georgia : This online exhibition features a collection of recently excavated finds from Vani, a major Colchian city, on the Black Sea. This collection was put together by the Georgian National Museum with help from ISAW (The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World) in New York.

George Ortiz Collection : "Includes works of art from Greece and Rome, as well as from some of its forerunners, Mesopotamia and Egypt, and its peripheral cultures spanning a period of time from the Neolithic to the Byzantine Empire; also sculptures from Africa, Pre-Columbian America and the Pacific. This web site offers the full corpus of the Collection [280 pieces], with 20 key works presented in a 3-D format for your understanding and enjoyment. "Fully-searchable" catalogue entries are available for each object, as well as glossaries. Additionally, there are news about exhibitions and information about the printed versions of The George Ortiz Collection catalogue, the standard reference on the Collection."

J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles : Mythology Collection : Art objects are sorted by creatures, heroes, major gods, minor gods, mortals.

Julio-Claudian Art, Roman Portraiture, Coins (Flickr)

Louvre MuseumGreek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

Maecenas: Images of Ancient Greece and Rome L This collection of images currently contains many high-quality photos from France and Italy, with separate sections for Sicily and Rome, and it is periodically updated with new photos. The images are offered free for any non-commercial purpose. Courtesy of the University of Buffalo.

Metis: A QTVR Interface for Ancient Greek Archaeological Sites : This QuickTime virtual reality collection 51 ancient Greek archaeological sites, including the Acropolis in Athens and the Temple of Aphaia in Aegina. Several embedded links connect users to related information provided by the Perseus Project.

Metropolitan Museum of Art : Greek and Roman Art in the Ancient World 

Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Naples). : Includes extensive mosaics, paintings, statutes, etc. from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston : noteworthy online exhibits of Egyption, Etruscan, Greek and Roman art.

Oxford Art Online : Provides access to Grove art online; The Oxford companion to western art; The concise Oxford dictionary of art terms; and Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. A database of art terminology, encyclopedic entries on artists and works of art, and images. Very useful for a preliminary resource for ancient art and architecture.

Perseus Digital Library : Perseus is a continually growing digital library of resources for studying the ancient world. Includes a very large collection of resources covering art, archaeology, art museums, art exhibits, that are worth checking out. Provides a Art & Archaeology Artifact Browser (listed separately) to help find items desired.

Tom and Nan Riley Collection of Roman Portrait Sculptures : The Riley Collection, dating to the period when Rome was at its greatest prosperity--the first century B.C. to the third century A.D.--is especially good at introducing students and those interested in ancient Rome to the diversity of the Roman world. Ranging from patricians to plebeians, the collection includes not only emperors and senators, but also men, women, and children from all walks of life. Finally, the collection provides a unique opportunity for people to get to know Romans as individual human beings who were concerned about many of the same issues that we are: identity, status, leadership, and gender ... The Riley website is designed to be useful to students, grade six through university, their teachers, and anyone interested in the Roman empire ... The site also features Teaching Materials designed to help teachers come up with ideas for integrating the site into their own pre-existingcourses." Maintained by John Gruber-Miller, Prof. of Classics, Cornell College.

Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii : Wall paintings demonstrate what it was like to become part a women's cult.

Print Reference Works

Atlas of Classical Archaeology
edited by M. I. Finley. New York : McGraw-Hill, c1977. 256pp.
Map Library (3 West), Library Short Atlas, G1046.E15 A8 1977
Organized by region but with an alphabetical index. Provides general introductions to regions and detailed coverage, including site plans and illustrations, for selected major cities.

The Atlas of World Archaeology
edited by Paul Bahn.
New York : Checkmark Books, c2000. 208pp.
Oversize collection (basement) CC165 .A85 2000
From the first humans to the rise of civilizations.

Cambridge Illustrated History of Archaeology
Paul G. Bahn. New York : Cambridge University Press, 1996. 386pp.
Main Library CC100 .C28 1996
Archaeology as a discipline has a history as colorful as the subject it studies -- the artifacts of the human past. Who hasn't heard of businessman-turned-flamboyant excavator Heinrich Schliemann, who unearthed (and looted) Troy's gold? Author Bahn leads a team of a dozen scholars down that parallel track of eccentric personalities and the things they dug up, resulting in a compact volume with a worldwide embrace, evenly balanced between sites famous and obscure. For its Eurocentric focus, however, Bahn makes no apology, arguing that the "archaeology of archaeology" essentially developed in Europe, at first, while the Renaissance gathered steam, in curiosity about Roman ruins and megalithic monuments like Stonehenge. Simple antiquarian collecting gradually gave way to more scientific systems of analysis, and the chapters, organized chronologically, recount the field's increasing sophistication in, for example, dating methods such as the carbon 14 technique. Two hundred illustrations abound, arresting the attention of any passing browser.

A Companion to Greek art  / edited by Tyler Jo Smith and Dimitris.  Malden, MA ; Oxford : Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.  2 vol. (836pp.)  N5630 .C716 2012  Online : This well-illustrated two-volume set offers a comprehensive, authoritative account of the development of Greek art through the 1st millennium BC. While there is no shortage of introductory handbooks on Greek art, the current publication takes a fresh look at the many facets of the subject, from the basic forms, materials, and types, to colonization, iconography, and finally the reception of Greek art in post-classical periods....A Companion to Greek Art is a collaborative effort joining scholars of various nationalities and specializations. The chapter authors are foremost experts in their field, and, being drawn from the ranks of university lecturers and professors, museum curators and field archaeologists, they offer unique perspectives to the collection. As a result, this is an unbiased and inclusive representation of the state of the discipline and the current ways it is being examined by scholars all over the world....A Companion to Greek Art presents a nuanced portrait of the development of Greek art, through a narrative that is factually oriented and technically detailed, as well as thematic, contextual, and historiographical.

A Companion to Roman Architecture  / edited by Roger B. Ulrich and Caroline K. Quenemoen.  Hoboken : John Wiley  & Sons Inc., 2013.   NA310 .C58 2013  Online : Presents a comprehensive review of the critical issues and approaches that have transformed scholarly understanding in recent decades in one easy-to-reference volume. Offers a cross-disciplinary approach to Roman architecture, spanning technology, history, art, politics, and archaeology Brings together contributions by leading scholars in architectural history An essential guide to recent scholarship, covering new archaeological discoveries, lesser known buildings, new technologies and space and construction Includes extensive, up-to-date bibliography and glossary of key Roman architectural terms

A Companion to the Archaeology of the Roman Republic / edited by Jane DeRose Evans.  Chichester, West Sussex, UK : Wiley Blackwell, 2013.  722pp.  DG77 .C583 2013  Online : A Companion to the Archaeology of the Roman Republic offers a diversity of perspectives to explore how differing approaches and methodologies can contribute to a greater understanding of the formation of the Roman Republic.

An Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology
edited by Nancy Thomson de Grummond.
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, c1996. 2 vols.
Main Library DE5 .E5 1996
Short entries for works of art (including buildings), artists, archaeological sies, and modern scholars of classical art and archaeology. Covers all of Greek and Roman antiquity, and also prehistoric Greece and the Estruscans. Includes scholarship form the medieval period to the present. Includes bibliographical references (p. [1227]-1232] and index in v. 2.

The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture / edited by Gordon Campbell.  Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2007.  2 volumes.   MSU Fine Arts, Art Reference N5610 .G76 2007 : Spans every art form, medium, and civilization the fall of the Roman Empire, The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art & Architecture is a comprehensive reference source on this important field of study. Drawing on the expansive scholarship of The Dictionary of Art (1996, 34 vols) and Grove Art Online, and adding dozens of new entries, the Encyclopedia includes all subject areas in the classical arts, including philosophers, rulers, writers and artists, architecture, ceramics, sculpture, and more. Arranged alphabetically, this two-volume set contains over 800 entries tracing the development of the art forms in classical civilizations such as ancient Greece and Rome. Illustrated with 400 halftones, maps and line drawings, and 32 color plates, the Encyclopedia is a reliable and convenient resource covering this field of everlasting significance in the development of western culture.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East / prepared under the auspices of the American Schools of Oriental Research ; Eric M. Meyers, editor in chief. New York : Oxford University Press, 1997. 5 vos.  Main Library DS56 .O9 1997 (Note : moving soon to Main Library Stacks) : This comprehensive five-volume work analyzes the archaeological and linguistic data that pertain to the broad cultural milieu of the ancient Near East, the crossroads of three of the world's most influential religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Ranging from prehistoric times up to the early centuries of the rise of Islam, the work covers the civilizations of Syria-Palestine, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Iran, Arabia, Cyprus, Egypt, and the coastal regions of North and East Africa. It includes 1,125 alphabetically arranged entries on sites, languages, material culture, archaeological methods, organizations and institutions, and major excavators and scholars of the field. This one-of-a-kind, accessibly written reference brings new breadth to the study of archaeology in the biblical world, making it a valuable resource not only to scholars and students of archaeology, but also to those with an interest in ancient art and architecture, languages, history, and religion.

Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Civilizations / John Haywood. London ; New York : Penguin, 2005. 144pp. Map Library (3 West), Library Short Atlas, G1033 .H39 2005
The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Civilizations explores the world’s earliest cultures, from the farming settlements of Mesopotamia to the foundation of Rome. Examining the development of civilizations around the globe, it covers such subjects as the roots of the Egyptian pharaohs, China’s long-lived dynasties, and the great cities of the Incas and Aztecs. Richly illustrated with photographs, artwork re-creations, and full-color maps, this is an illuminating and multifaceted one-volume introduction to early peoples and the world they created.

Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens
John Travlos. [Prepared in collaboration with the] German Archaeological Institute.
New York, Praeger [1971]. 590pp.
Fine Arts Library (4 West), Art Reference Alcove, folio NA280 .T68
The authority for city plans and buildings in classical (Mycenaean to Roman) Athens; heavily and excellently illustrated.

Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Rome
Ernest Nash.
New York, Praeger [1968, c1961] 2d ed., rev. 2 vols.
Fine Arts Library (4 West), Art Reference Alcove, folio NA310 .N28 1968
A very thorough illustrated alphabetic catalog of ancient sites and monuments in the city of Rome; weak on site plans.

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites
Richard Stillwell, editor, William L. MacDonald, associate editor, Marian Holland McAllister, assistant editor.
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1976. 1019pp.
Fine Arts Library (4 West), Art Reference Alcove, folio DE59 .P7
The place to start if you are researching a site. Comprehensive encyclopedic dictionary of archaeological sites with classical period (750 B.C.-600 A.D.) remains. Includes detailed bibliography, but only general maps in the appendix.

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae : (LIMC)
[publié par la Fondation pour le Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae (LIMC) ; comité de rédaction : John Boardman ... [et al.]]
Zürich : Artemis Verlag, [1981]-
Fine Arts Library (4 West), Permanent Reserve Alcove 1, NX650.M9 L48
The ultimate source for classical myth in ancient art, with detailed citations from classical texts as well as exhaustive illustrations. Eight volumes, each in two parts (text and plates), plus two index volumes. Articles in English, French, Italian, and German.

Enciclopedia dell'arte antica, classica e orientale
Roma, Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana [1958-1966
Fine Arts Library (4 West), Art Reference Alcove, folio N31 .E48
Illustrated, 1-8, 10-11 volumes plus supplements; in Italian.

Denkmäler des klassischen Altertums zur erläuterung des Lebens der Griechen und Römer in Religion, kunst und sitte
Lexikalisch bearb. von B. Arnold, H. Blümner, W. Deecke [u.a.] und dem herausgeber A. Baumeister.
München, Leipzig, R. Oldenbourg, 1885-1888.
Fine Arts Library (4 West), Permanent Reserve 2 Alcove, DE5 .B34
Some illustrations; 3 volumes; in German.

Subject Guide

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Ask a Librarian

The Trojan sea-monster fighting with Heracles. Fragment of an Campanian red-figure krater (?), ca. 360 BC. Housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

How long have dragons been around in Western thought?

Eos in her chariot flying over the sea (dolphin left and fish right). Red-figure krater from South Italy, 430–420 BC. Housed at Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany

Winged horses and divinities. Possilbe precursors to Christian angels?

Wine Cup with Bellerophon Fighting the Chimaera; Greek, Lakonia, about 565 B.C.; Getty Villa in Los Angeles

Visit this web page for more information about this wine cup.

Herakles and the Cretan Bull

Youth as a Lamp Bearer; Bronze, with inlays of copper and glass, from Pompeii, around 20-10 B.C.

Youth as a Lamp Bearer, a long-term loan from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, is currently on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles. More information is available.




This terra cotta vessel, which dates to 350 B.C., is what's called a krater: a large mixing bowl used to dilute wine with water. The contested krater bears the image of Dionysus, the god of wine and theater. (Or, alternately, the god of wine and ecstacy.) The Metropolitan Museum of Art owned this bowl for a time until it was determined it had been stolen from Italy. The MET bought it from Sotheby's which asserted it had no knowledge of the item being stolen.

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