Early Cultures


The Program in Early Cultures is an interdisciplinary concentration that integrates the cultures, religions, and histories of ancient civilizations. Geographically, the “ancient world” includes early China and India, West Asia (Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia, and Israel), Egypt, the Mediterranean (especially Greece and Italy), the early Islamic and Byzantine worlds, and the Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations. Students in Early Cultures gain in-depth knowledge of the history, religions, languages, and literatures of two or more ancient civilizations. In consultation with a concentration advisor, students design their own areas of study. Examples of possible topics include: cultural contacts between Greece and Egypt/West Asia; animal sacrifice in Greece and Israel; comparative legal studies: Israel, Hatti, and Mesopotamia; gender roles in Rome and Egypt; Wisdom literature in Egypt, Israel, and Mesopotamia; and the historiography of the exact sciences in India and Greece.

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Student Goals

Students in this concentration will:

  • Gain in-depth knowledge of the history, religions, languages, and literatures of two or more ancient civilizations
  • Design a unique focus area related to early cultures
  • Hone their writing abilities
  • Develop advanced skills in critical reading and thinking
  • Complete a capstone project


Click here for a list of the Early Cultures concentration requirements.

Honors and Capstones

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All concentrators must complete the capstone course, Seminar for Concentrators (ANCT1000). To qualify for Honors a student must take ANCT1000 in both the junior and senior years (or two 1000-level courses depending on the student's focus within the concentration), and complete an Honors thesis, which may be completed in one or two semesters. Please see the department's website for a complete description of program requirements for Honors.


  • Ancient History
  • Ancient Religions
  • Languages and Literatures of Greece, Rome, North Africa, pre-Islamic West and South Asia (honors only)

Liberal Learning

This concentration allows you to address the following Liberal Learning goals:

  • Enhance your aesthetic sensibility
  • Expand your reading skills
  • Understand differences among cultures
  • Embrace diversity
  • Engage with your community
  • Develop a facility with symbolic languages
  • Learn what it means to study the past
  • Evaluate human behavior
  • Work on your speaking and writing

Download the full statement on Liberal Learning at Brown

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Graduating Class

Year Total Capstone Honors

Alumni Pathways

Alumni have gone into fields as diverse as engineering and playwriting/theater directing.

See more details on the CareerLAB website.

If you are an advisor and would like to make changes to the information on this page, contact focal_point@brown.edu, or email Dean Besenia Rodriguez.