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Prof. Thomas Harrison

Professor of Ancient History
Equality and diversity officer

Phone: 01334 462615

Room: C28

Research profile

Research Interests

  • Greek history, especially archaic and classical 
  • The Achaemenid Persian empire
  • Greek historiography, especially Herodotus, Thucydides and the Alexander historians
  • Greek contact with, and Greek representations of, foreign peoples, especially Persians, Egyptians and Thracians
  • The history of the study of Classics and of the Ancient Near East from the nineteenth century 
  • Ancient imperialism; a new obsession is ancient slavery and its wider impact on Greek culture

Current research projects

I have two main current projects: the first, a book for a wider audience on Herodotus and his reception (especially in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries); the second, a study of the role of belief in ancient Greek religion.

Research Students

  • I have supervised doctorates on a wide range of topics in Greek history and classical receptions, including Greek ethnography, Athenian slavery, Herodotus’ use of his written sources, Greek atheism, the reception of Alexander the Great, and the religious stance of modern scholars on ancient Greek religion.  
  • I am currently supervising PhDs on the reception of Herodotus in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the role of Classics in the inter-war period in Britain, the Persian background to Alexander the Great, and the relationship between Achaemenid history and the Iranian epic tradition. 
  • I am happy to supervise in any of the areas listed above under ‘research interests’ and am always open to discussing possible topics and approaches. 





  • Honours modules on Persia and the Greeks, The Greeks and Others, and Alexander the Great.
  • Coordination and contributions to the first-year module on Greek history, and to other team-taught modules.
  • Various contributions to the MLitt in Classics; the supervision of MLitt and undergraduate dissertations. 

Academic career

I studied both for my undergraduate degree (in Ancient and Modern History, 1990) and my doctorate (supervised by Professors David Lewis and Robert Parker, 1995) at Wadham College, Oxford. The first of my three stints at St Andrews was as a Teaching and Research Fellow (temporary lecturer) from 1995 to 1997.  Then I went to the Department of History at UCL as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow (1997-2000), before returning to St Andrews to a lectureship in Ancient History (2000-2004).  I moved to Liverpool in 2004 where I spent 11 happy years as Rathbone Professor of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology, before returning to the intellectual paradise of St Andrews in 2015.    

I have been involved for a long time in attempts to support and widen access to the teaching of Classics and Ancient History in schools, through work with the Joint Association of Classical Teachers and now as a trustee of Classics for All and as Chair of Council of the Classical Association of Scotland (2016-).

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