The Department of History and Archaeology has a distinguished tradition of academic excellence in research and education. Since AUB's founding as the Syrian Protestant College in 1866, and through its transformation to the American University of Beirut in 1920, instilling an understanding of the past has been a core of the mission to educate women and men in the humanities so “that they may have Life and have it more abundantly."
Archaeology sets out to answer the fundamental question of “what makes us human?" through the study of material remains of the past. Human-made material culture comes in all forms: from landscapes and buildings down to artifacts, such as pottery or metal objects, and human bones. The scope of fundamental discipline subject areas investigated range from: the establishment of complex societies and civilizations of the past; to the archaeology of myth and religion; to issues of power and imperialism; through to the preservation of cultural heritage. The department traces its archaeological lineage from the seminal work of pioneers such as Harald Ingholt and Dimitri Baramki. Our archaeologists are engaged in the vital and ongoing process of documenting and preserving evidence of human civilization from the prehistoric, Bronze, and Iron Age periods through the Greco-Roman and Islamic eras at archaeological sites in Lebanon, Egypt, and beyond.
AUB historians are engaged in projects that seek to understand the region and its place in the world following the tradition initiated by the SPC's Ya'qub Sarruf and Faris Nimr in 1876, when they established the scientific and literary journal, Al-Muqtataf, a major vessel for the expression of modern Arab thought and its historic past, and carried on in an academic context by historians such as As'ad Rustum and Constantine Zurayq. Our historians are engaged in research, employing a range of historiographical methodologies, investigating periods as early as the beginning of the Islamic era and extending to the twentieth century.
Programs of Study
The department offers BA, MA and PhD degrees in Arab and Middle Eastern History and BA and MA degrees in Archaeology. The department empowers students to think critically, independently engage primary sources and materials, and ultimately assume conscious ownership of their knowledge and understanding of the past. Courses are taught by faculty members who are all actively engaged in research. The curriculum is student-oriented, offering a wide array of coursework from broad historical topics to in-depth studies. The department is the intellectual home to faculty members and students from Lebanon and abroad who share the goal of achieving a deeper understanding of our region's history and its place in the world.