About us

About us

The Department of Ancient History offers over forty units for study at undergraduate level and covers the antecedents of western civilisation in ancient Egypt, the Ancient Near East and the Graeco-Roman world.Greek history is studied from Homer to the Hellenistic cultures under the Roman empire (including Judaism and early Christianity) and Roman history from the Republic to the Late Empire, the Silk Road and the Medieval and Byzantine period. Egyptian history is taught from the Predynastic period up to that of the Ramesside period. Egypt's later history merges with the Greek, Roman and Coptic streams.

Postgraduate studies also constitute a large part of Ancient History at Macquarie. Some sixty postgraduate units are offered for those undertaking the MA/Diploma/Certificate by coursework in Ancient History, Egyptology, Coptic Studies, and in Early Christian and Jewish Studies. Research degrees of either MPhil or PhD level are also offered.

Ancient languages

Ancient languages provide a fundamental point of contact with ancient cultures. Every student of ancient history and archaeology should have the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in the study of languages. Accordingly the Department of Ancient History offers units in six different ancient languages relevant to our teaching and research strengths. We run at least four units in Ancient Greek, Hieroglyphs (Ancient Egyptian), and Latin, up to three units in Ancient Hebrew and Coptic (the later form of Egyptian), and one unit in Akkadian. Our language teaching has a distinctive ‘Macquarie’ character, aiming to support the particular interests of historians and archaeologists. It is closely integrated with our teaching of other aspects of ancient cultures. We focus on ancient scripts, on the analysis of both literary texts preserved mainly (except for Akkadian and Ancient Egyptian) through medieval manuscript traditions and ancient documents such as papyri and inscriptions, on textual artefacts as components of material culture, and on the history of the languages themselves. In addition to units taught for academic credit the Macquarie Ancient Languages School (MALS) provides extra opportunities to begin and develop understanding of ancient languages through its annual Summer and Winter Weeks.


The study of Egyptian civilization, taught within the Australian Centre for Egyptology, is a special feature of Ancient History at Macquarie and it is possible to complete an MA degree in Ancient History entirely in Egyptology. Macquarie was the first Australian university to conduct its own excavations in Egypt. It presently has five sites there, and the Centre has published some 18 volumes of excavation reports in the past decade.

Continuing excavations and manuscript research ensure that Ancient History is not a static study. New archaeological finds continually reshape history; new perspectives are also provided by other fields of study, such as anthropology, social science and religion. The wide range of staff research ensures that these fresh perspectives are consistently brought to bear on their areas of study. Our historians have interests in practical archaeology, classical and Near Eastern languages, papyrology, epigraphy, numismatics, historiography, museum studies, religious studies and gender studies.

Teaching units are supported by material held within the Museum of Ancient Cultures. From small beginnings in 1974 the Museum now houses a large and significant collection of some 800 papyri as well as over 4000 artefacts from the Egyptian, Greek, Roman , Cypriot and Near Eastern cultures, among which are pottery, some 800 coins and inscriptions. The Museum runs various education programs involving thousands of school students and community groups per year. Macquarie University students and members of the general public are most welcome to visit. The Museum of Ancient Cultures is housed in its own purpose-built rooms.

Ancient Near Eastern history is studied from the Neolithic to the Roman periods with a special focus on the archaeology of the southern Levant (modern Israel, Jordan, and southern Lebanon) and Mesopotamia. This historical range traces the development and interaction of groups such as the Israelites, Phoenicians, Canaanites, Philistines, Arameans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians.


With the support of Australia’s Coptic community, Heike Behlmer (now Professor and Head of the Institute for Egyptology and Coptology, University of Göttingen) was appointed to establish Macquarie University’s program in Coptic Studies in 2005.

With its existing research and teaching strengths in Egyptology, Late Antiquity, Papyrology, and Early Christian Studies, Macquarie University is the ideal environment for Coptic Studies, which lies at the intersection of these fields.

Macquarie has had significant successes in the teaching, research, and outreach programs in Coptic Studies, forging an international reputation in the field. Significant publications and external funding has underlined the research strengths of the field. A host of students have completed Masters, Bachelors, and Higher Degree research programs of study. Graduates of the programs have gone on to be research fellows at overseas universities, PhD candidates (at Macquarie and overseas), and into a wide range of professions outside academia. Our relationship with the Coptic community of Sydney and Australia has continued to grow.

Learn more about Coptic Studies at Macquarie University


The Australian Centre for Numismatic Studies was established in 1999 with a large endowment from Dr and Mrs W.L. Gale. Its role is to promote the study of ancient Greek and Roman coins as a means of understanding the history and material culture of ancient societies. It administers several important collections of ancient coins, including the extensive one on loan from the Gale family. The purpose-built Centre contains a numismatic library and coin study room. Limited access is available to these collections and facilities (by prior arrangement with the Director) for staff and students with special projects. The Centre also offers two junior research fellowships each year to students who have completed a BA, and has a senior research fellowship for established scholars.

Ancient History at Macquarie is actively involved in the community in a variety of programs. The Education Officers of the Museum of Ancient Cultures conduct study days for schools throughout the year and courses of interest to the general public are also offered such as Face to Face with the New Testament. The Macquarie journal Ancient History: Resources for Teachers appears twice a year and contains articles of interest to secondary school teachers and senior students as well as to the wider public. The Bulletin of the Australian Centre for Egyptology is published annually and contains articles of interest to both scholars and the wider community.Community interest in the ancient world is also encouraged by several affiliated societies such as the Macquarie Ancient History Association, the Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology and the Society for the Study of Early Christianity. Publication series such as the Excavation Reports of the Australian Centre for Egyptology and New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity published by the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre also make available recent research on artefacts and documentary material.

Within the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre a number of major research projects are being undertaken with Australian Research Council and other funding. These include the Christian Papyri for illustrating the Rise of Christianity in Egypt, the Corpus of Manichaean Sources, and a Dictionary of Roman Political Biography. Within the Australian Centre for Egyptology research effort is presently focussed on the Saqqara Project (in collaboration with the Egyptian Antiquities Organisation), the Helwan Project, and the Theban Tombs Project.

Community partners

The Department of Ancient History considers outreach to be as important as teaching or research. Part of our mission is to provide opportunities for members of the community who have an interest in Ancient History to participate in and support the teaching and research life of the Department. The Department has many community partners, both organizations and individuals, who support our research and teaching programs, some of which are noted below.

Macquarie Ancient History Association

The Macquarie Ancient History Association (MAHA) was founded in 1978 with the aim of promoting the study of Ancient History in schools, universities and the general community. It provides opportunities for people interested in Ancient History to hear and/or read about recent research, and to exchange ideas and information through a program of lectures and seminars, as well as newsletters and other publications.

Visit the MAHA website

Society for the Study of Early Christianity

The Society for the Study of Early Christianity was established at Macquarie University within the Ancient History Documentary Research Centre to assist in fulfilling its aims through the study of the New Testament in its times, including its Jewish and Graeco/Roman context, and the development of early Christianity.

Visit the Society for the Study of Early Christianity website

Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology

The Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology (The Australian Centre for Egyptology) was established in 1981 and supports researchers and students from the department participating in excavations in Egypt , and the study of ancient Egypt at Macquarie .

Mrs Valerie Rundle has supported Ancient History at Macquarie for many years in a variety of ways. Most recently, she has supported a short-term fellowship to allow a Macquarie PhD graduate to complete the publication of their thesis.

Visit the Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology website

Australian Centre for Numismatic Studies

The late Dr Bill Gale and Mrs Janet Gale enabled the establishment of the Australian Centre for Numismatic Studies in 1999 with a large endowment and the donation of their own coin collection. Their endowment allows junior and senior research fellows to be appointed in ACANS yearly, and short term fellowships for postgraduate students and junior staff to research at the British School of Archaeology in Rome and undertake research in Graeco-Roman history (for further details see scholarships). Mrs Gale remains a strong supporter of Ancient History at Macquarie, and also supports the acquisition of books related to the Graeco-Roman world for Macquarie University library.

Visit the Australian Centre for Numismatic Studies website

Foundation for the Study of Ancient Cultures

The Foundation for the Study of Ancient Cultures was set up using a very generous donation by Mrs Monica Anderson to support the growth, development and expansion of activities by the Museum of Ancient Cultures.

The Coptic Community in Sydney and Australia

The Coptic community in Sydney and Australia has generously supported the Coptic Studies program at Macquarie since 2006. Their support not only made the program possible in the first place, but helps the teaching of Coptic and the history of Christian Egypt to continue at Macquarie.

Sir Asher Joel Foundation 

The Sir Asher Joel Foundation promotes the study of the ancient history of Israel and furthers the association in this and other fields of study between Macquarie University and Tel Aviv university. The Foundation both sends students to work in Israel , and brings international experts on ancient Israel and Judaism to Australia . It also sponsors exhibitions on related material.

Community teaching programs

The Department of Ancient History's teaching program is not limited to students enrolled at Macquarie . We also offer outreach programs to the community, and to primary and secondary school students.

Ancient History Continuing Education Program

Are you fascinated by the ancient world and would like to learn more about it? You are invited to join our Ancient History Department's program for Session 1, 2016. As a Continuing Education student, you attend lectures only, without the pressure of assignments or exams. You also have access to the Macquarie Library collections for use within the Library. Choose from a wide range of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Near Eastern history topics, as well as archaeology and language units.

  • Where: Macquarie University
  • When: Monday 1 August to Friday 11 November 2016
  • Time: Mondays to Fridays (see University lecture timetable for individual units )
  • Program: download program
  • Application: Complete application form and post with payment to:
    Department of Ancient History - Continuing Education Programme
    Faculty of Arts, Building W6A, Room 312
    Macquarie University NSW 2109
    Or email with credit card details to: ahistconted@mq.edu.au
  • Cost: $220 per unit

Parking: Parking fees apply. X3 and W4 carparks are designated for casual parking.

Cut-off Date for Applications: Monday 25 July 2016

Contact: +61 (2) 9850 9962 or email ahistconted@mq.edu.au

The Macquarie Ancient Languages School (MALS) provides a unique opportunity to engage with ancient cultures through the study of their languages in a friendly and stimulating environment. The School began in 1981 as an intensive summer school in ancient Greek. It has expanded over the years and now offers courses in a variety of ancient languages associated with the teaching and research programs of the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University.

MALS offers intensive courses at introductory to advanced levels. Week-long sessions run on the Macquarie campus in January and July each year. We specialise in Greek, Egyptian, Latin (winter only), Coptic, and Hebrew, and regularly include other languages as well. Everyone (from 16 years of age up) interested in exploring one of these languages with us is warmly welcomed. For more information about upcoming Winter and Summer Weeks see our website

Museum of Ancient Cultures

The Museum of Ancient Cultures has a comprehensive school outreach program offering Education Programs for years 7, 11 and 12 in Ancient History in line with the NSW junior and senior Ancient History syllabuses.

Resources for Schools

The Resources for Schools online site is part of our community engagement program to provide quality resources for HSC Ancient History. Here you will find up-to-date information regarding events and programs for school students and teachers as well as teaching materials and syllabus support resources for the study of Ancient Israel and the Near East.

Student societies

There are a number of societies which support undergraduate and postgraduate students within the department of Ancient History.

The Macquarie Ancient History Association's Student Advisory Council organises academic and social events for Ancient History Students at Macquarie .

The Telemachus Ancient History Mentor Program (Tele's Angels) is an ancient History mentor group run by students for students which organises workshops and programs on various themes to assist students in their study of the Ancient world at Macquarie.

University Students for Egyptological Research (U.S.E.R.) is a society for students studying, researching and practicing Egyptology at Macquarie which facilitates networking, socialising, and dialogue amongst students to encourage and perpetuate a sense of community amongst Egyptology students at Macquarie University.

The Macquarie Asian Historical Research Society (MAHRS) was formed in March 2010. MAHRS was founded by PhD Candidates at Macquarie who felt a need for greater rapport between fellow students who had research interests in Asian history. MAHRS is not only a society, but a forum within which members may discuss and contest ideas on aspects of Asian historical cultures.

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