• Ana Martin

What do you know about race in Antiquity?

Updated: Jul 22, 2020


Since writing this blog post, numerous resources have been created and also brought to my attention. Luckily, the response has been truly overwhelming, but this also means that it is impossible to include them all. I have chosen the ones I find more relevant for GCSE and A Level Students. Scroll to the bottom for the latest additions, and please do let me know if you know of any other accessible links for secondary aged students.


When starting to study the ancient world, many people ask this:

Were all Romans white... and were their slaves black?

What was it like to be black in Antiquity?

Is Classics a haven for white supremacists?

I've searched the internet for useful resources so that you can dive in and start thinking about life in the ancient world, the projection of modern concepts into Antiquity and the importance of political engagement for all classicists.

Here are my top 3 recommendations:

1. A fantastic lecture by Mary Beard on whiteness and the ancient world. Just click here.

2. This article by Sarah Bond that sadly attracted quite a lot of attention from white supremacists.

3. A very interesting article by Sarah Derbew in the Getty Museum's blog,

along with access to plenty of images, can be found here.

For a thorough look at colour in Classical art and the study of race in Antiquity, 'The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Antiquity' by Margaret Talbot is a great resource with plenty of links.

An interesting review about the way we learn about ancient Britannia can be found here.

For a very general overview of the concept of race across time, this wikipedia page offers a simple starting point with plenty of links to choose your own investigative journey.

Are you thinking about a degree in Classics?

If you are considering studying Classics at university, it is important that you check the programs at different universities, as well as their response to calls for a change in Classics. Some universities have been very proactively confronting these issues and this reflects on their curriculum. This is the case of the Classics Department at Warwick, whose example and application to the courses you can find here, or look at their module 'Africa and the Making of Classical Literature' here as an example of what they do.

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