Major Department

Ancient Civilization


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2019

Honors Major Advisor

Robert Ketterer

Thesis Mentor

Robert Cargill


While scholars date the earliest museums to the 15th and16th centuries CE, there is evidence that institutions of collection, preservation, and the public display of artifacts existed beginning as far back as the 12th century BCE. From the war-spoils brought to Susa by the Elamite monarch Shutruk-Nahkunte I in 1158 BCE to the peristyle gardens of Imperial Roman villas, the origins of museum culture can be traced through the major empires of antiquity. This thesis examines specific Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman sites for evidence that could qualify them as early proto-museums, as well as overall cultures of collection and display within empires. This thesis also addresses proto-museological themes in antiquity by examining material and literary evidence in an attempt to refute the idea that the museum is a modern colonialist construction.


Museums, Rome, Greece, Susa, Persia, Colonialism

Total Pages



Copyright © 2019 Callaghan Todhunter