Wesleyan portrait of Kate  Birney

Kate Birney

Associate Professor of Classical Studies

Downey House, 294 High Street, 212

Chair, Archaeology

Associate Professor, Archaeology

Associate Professor, Art History


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BA Yale University
MT Harvard University
PHD Harvard University

Kate Birney

Dr. Birney is Mediterranean archaeologist studying contacts between the cultures of ancient Greece and the ancient Near East – through markets, migration and myth – and how those interactions resulted in the creation of what we now think of as the Classical world.  Her research focuses on two periods of intensive contact, drawing upon a blend of archaeological, textual and scientific data. The first is the Bronze-Iron Age transition (ca. 1200 B.C.), during which Mycenaean immigrants and tribes of Sea Peoples, including the Philistines, moved from the Aegean sphere into Anatolia, Syria, Israel and Crete after the collapse of the Bronze Age empires. The story of this mass migration is echoed in the works of Homer and finds its way into several Greek foundation legends – particularly that of Mopsus – as well as the Old Testament.  The second is the Hellenistic period (323 – 63 B.C.), during which Greek and Phoenician cultural and market forces shaped the landscape of the southern Levant. This study is part of long-term archaeological work at the site of Ashkelon on the south coast of Israel, one of most famous port cities in the ancient Mediterranean, whose inhabitants had strong connections to Greek and Phoenician trading networks. Both in her research and in the classroom Dr. Birney is dedicated to integrating the traditions of Classical Studies with the archaeological sciences (organic residue analysis, material science, petrography, etc.).

Academic Affiliations

Office Hours

Fall 2019: Tues 2:40-4pm
Spr 2020: On Research Leave


Fall 2021
GRK 102 - 01
Introduction to Ancient Greek

Spring 2022
CLST 201 - 01
Bronze Age Mediterranean

GRK 101 - 01
Introduction to Ancient Greek