Ancient history Society, history and languages

Ancient history Society, history and languages

With a broad and rich understanding of ancient times, we can better understand who we are today and where we are going in the future.

Macquarie’s world-leading ancient history courses allow you to immerse yourself in the culture and languages of the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern world, both on campus and at archaeological dig sites overseas.

Careers in ancient history  

  • ancient history academic
  • archivist
  • collections officer
  • conservation consultant
  • cultural heritage specialist
  • cultural project officer
  • gallery or museum curator
  • government adviser
  • historian
  • museum education officer
  • policy officer
  • preservation officer
  • researcher
  • tourism and travel consultant
  • writer

Professional experience

A Macquarie student obverves an ancient vase in the Museum of Ancient Cultures.Delve into the stories, artefacts and cultures of ancient civilisations alongside academic researchers and industry professionals in Macquarie University's PACE program.

Through PACE you have the opportunity enhance the theoretical knowledge gained through your degree with practical work experience, fieldwork and research projects locally, regionally and internationally. Discover the possibilities available through PACE and pave the way for new insights to your future career.

"Overall, this program solidified my love for history and heritage and assisted me in developing my graduate and professional capabilities," – PACE student Raelee-Jordan Lancaster.

Raelee completed an internship with EMM Consulting in St Leonards, and had the opportunity to undertake paid fieldwork as well for three days in Goulburn as a part of her activity.

No matter what your circumstances and what you decide to study at Macquarie, PACE has an opportunity available for you. Learn more about the opportunities available through PACE.

Our expertise in ancient history

Professor Naguib Kanawati

Professor Naguib Kanawati

Professor of Egyptology

Professor Kanawati is an egyptologist with a special interest in the Old Kingdom. In 1981 he established the Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology and in 1989 he established the Australian Centre for Egyptology and remains its Director.

In 1997 Professor Kanawati was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and in 2003 he received the Centenary Medal ‘for services to the Australian society and the humanities in the study of archaeology.’

See Professor Kanawati's full profile

Associate Professor Paul McKechnie

Associate Professor Paul McKechnie 

Program Director for the Master of Ancient History

Associate Professor McKechnie's teaching and research interests include the Hellenistic (especially Ptolemaic) world, early Christianity (before Constantine) and Classical Greece.

Prior to joining Macquarie in 2007, Associate Professor McKechnie was a senior lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Other previous academic roles include Assistant Master in Classics and Religious Education, The Perse School, Cambridge University and Head of Department of Classics at Kamuzu Academy, Malawi.

See Associate Professor McKechnie's full profile

Our facilities

Museum of Ancient Cultures

The Museum of Ancient Cultures (MAC) is a leading museum which supports a range of museums, collections, art galleries, a sculpture park and herbarium. As an archaeological museum it introduces modern minds to a number of cultures from the ancient world through its research and publications, learning, teaching and outreach programs, its displays and exhibitions and its involvement in the activities of the University.

Its main collection includes over 7000 artefacts which come from the ancient Mediterranean world covering the Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Near Eastern cultures. The Museum also holds the largest papyrus collection in the southern hemisphere which includes Greek literary texts with prominent pieces including an Acts of the Apostles fragment and three early Christian letters from Oxyrhynchus.

Learn more about the Museum of Ancient Cultures

Study ancient history at Macquarie 

Macquarie University's ancient history program is the longest-running of its kind in Australia. We're the only university in Australia to offer a comprehensive study of Egyptology, and our Archaeology program offers local and international internships to enhance your career prospects.

A trip in July led by Macquarie Early Career Fellow Dr Jaye McKenzie-Clarke saw nine undergraduate students work with Italian archaeologists as part of the course unit AHIS 347 – Archaeological Fieldwork.

Over the course of four weeks, students were instructed in a variety of archaeological methods including pickaxing, shoveling, trowelling, brushing and pottery washing. They were taught to identify stratigraphic differences and correctly fill out stratigraphic unit documentation. Students were also able to see, first hand, the measures taken to conserve the site. This involved the reconstruction of walls damaged by the electrical cable and the capping of walls to ensure their conservation and protection from further degradation.

Nicole Holmes, a current Bachelor of Ancient History at Macquarie University says of the experience, "The first hand experience… was vital for my studies as well as improving my capabilities in archaeology and pottery analysis. In both the museum and the site we got to work alongside an encouraging and friendly Italian team which increased my enthusiasm and motivation for ancient history".

This is the second year of Macquarie Ancient History students working at this site and their excavations aimed to further expand and explore the site, along with identifying the impact of the installation of electrical cables through the area in the 20th century. This unique experience for students is something of a rarity, especially at undergraduate level, and speaks volumes about the research and partnership strengths of Macquarie University in the archaeological and ancient history fields.

"Participating in an actual Roman site, with Roman ruins and artefacts, is something that just can't be achieved in Australia. Not to mention, the finds at Carsulae are abundant and always interesting to work with… it was an unforgettable and rewarding experience." says Nicole.

What do we commonly wish to do when we see artefacts? We want to touch the objects, inspect and feel their intricacies, and study closely these relics from the past. However, the fragile nature of historical objects, especially of ancient artefacts, limits our access to them.

Thanks to an innovative research project that combines Macquarie University's expertise in medical imaging and ancient history, Macquarie students can now have hands-on experience with the ancient world. Using 3D scans and prints, students are able to access, analyse, and conduct non-destructive detailed studies of ancient artefacts.

Learning and teaching history

The "Digitisation, 3D modelling, analysis, preservation and replication of small objects of antiquity" project is a collaboration between Dr Jaye McKenzie-Clark, an Early Career Fellow from the Department of Ancient History, and Professor John Magnussen from Macquarie's Australian School of Advanced Medicine. The purpose of the project is to increase the accessibility and availability of teaching resources. The project also aids in the conservation and preservation of ancient artefacts. The original objects, which are too fragile to be handled, will no longer be at risk of damage or destruction.

The project has so far produced 3D scans and prints of select ancient artefacts, some of which have already been integrated into the Archaeology and Society (AHIS230) unit, enhancing students' learning experience.

The introduction of virtual and 3D printed objects allows for a multisensory learning experience that is especially beneficial for people with disabilities, those who are visually impaired, or those who are studying via distance education.

The project team has produced around 25 high-fidelity 3D virtual models and thirteen 3D replica prints of ancient artefacts. They are now seeking to expand this library of virtual and 3D printed objects to further increase its accessibility and availability to a wider audience.

Bringing history and technology together

McKenzie-Clark and Magnussen worked with Bachelor of Philosophy/Master of Research (BPhil/MRes) students Keira De Rosa, Samantha Jones and Nicole Leong who were trained to use specialised 3D scanning equipment and software.

Leong, whose childhood dream was to study Egyptology, says that her involvement in the project led to a greater interest in academia and research.

"This project has definitely inspired me to pursue other areas of research, more in the application and uses of [3D scanning and printing] in Egyptology and museums, its uses in education, and how to develop and utilise this technology to its full potential so that it can be used as a learning tool," said Leong.

Jones, a Merit Scholar, said, "I learned how to use a 3D scanner and how to process 3D images. In order to scan them you have to be fairly meticulous over lighting, angles, and more. From this project I've been able to see and experience a whole new facet to teaching ancient history. Not only did my involvement in this project reinvigorate my passion for [Ancient History and Archaeology], it also made me realise that I love teaching and coming up with exciting new ways to teach."

Looking into the future

3D technologies have been used in manufacturing, design, health care and education since the 1980s but it has only been within the last 10 years that these technologies have been integrated into the fields of ancient history, archaeology and museum studies.

Providing access to ancient history through the use of innovative research techniques, the "Digitisation, 3D modelling, analysis, preservation and replication of small objects of antiquity" project puts Macquarie University at the forefront of delivering transformative learning.

Leong said, "I guess you could say that as Ancient History students we're always looking into the past while Macquarie is continuously looking into the future."

First minted around 540 BC in the cities of Southern Italy (modern Basilicata and Calabria), incuse coins show the same image on the front and back - but the image on the back is sunk into the metal so that it appears as a negative or incuse version of the front. The mysterious technique of manufacture, which appears to be quite difficult to execute, has attracted a good deal of discussion but it has never been satisfactorily explained.  We do know, however, that these cities continued to mint these coins for over a century.

There are no surviving contemporary accounts of ancient coin manufacture, and no illustrations. Only three or four of the dies once used for striking coins in ancient Greek mints survive today. Therefore, what we know about the earliest history of coin minting is derived from a study of the coins themselves. With the emerging science of neutron scattering, the use of neutron diffraction to improve our understanding of the techniques of ancient coin manufacture is just beginning, and the ANSTO/ACANS study is among the first.

"Our aim is to explore the technology behind the production of one of the world's first coinages," explains Dr Vladimir Luzin, Instrument Scientist at ANSTO.

"In particular, our objective is to explain the very singular technology and processes for minting incuse coins."

Bringing the past into the future

"ANSTO's neutron scattering texture measurements will provide insight into the mechanical processes undertaken to create the coins," explains Associate Professor Kenneth Sheedy, Director of ACANS.

"Numismatists from ACANS will then infer the production steps undertaken to produce these coins using knowledge of ancient materials and equipment that were available at the time."

ANSTO's Bragg Institute leads Australia in the use of neutron scattering and X-ray techniques to solve complex research and industrial problems in many important fields. Although measurements of coins using neutron texture analysis have been implemented before, a systematic and full-scale study to set a benchmark is unique to this project.

Mutual partnership benefits

Macquarie University's Numismatic Centre holds one of the finest collections of South Italian coins in the world (there are 1267 coins specimens in the Gale donation). This research partnership with ANSTO will help to enrich the Centre's knowledge of this important university resource.

There is also the opportunity for ANSTO and the Faculty of Arts to partner on future research ventures engaging both staff and students, and also projects linked to Faculty of Arts' new Bachelor of Archaeology degree.

Besides providing a solution to a twenty five century old mystery, it is anticipated that this collaboration will benefit the community in the area of cultural heritage. There is a strong Australian and global interest in the ancient world and in particular, a fascination with the material culture of antiquity.

"By collaborating with enterprises such as ACANS, ANSTO can help to further the understanding of ancient civilisations which enables us to better understand how the human race interacts with the world around it," reveals Mr Scott Olsen, Scientific Operations Group Leader and Quality Coordinator for the Bragg Institute.

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