In Libris Libertas: Open Access Monographs in Classics, Ancient History, Art History, and Archaeology

Sarah E. Bond
6 min readAug 8, 2019


Embedding open content into your syllabus is just one way to promote #OA and save your students a little bit of cash at the same time.

It is syllabus time for many once again. If you are like me, you want to save your students from spending too much on textbooks, but still want to have a rich array of current reading for students assigned on your syllabus. A few years ago, I put together a popular list of “ Open Access Books for Teaching Greek and Roman Inscriptions.” I wanted to piggyback on that by offering just a few options for open access monographs that teachers can assign for course readings or simply to enjoy on your own — for free. A much more comprehensive list of all open access monograph sites can be found on Chuck Jones’ AWOL: The Ancient World Online blog, where you can also find a spectacular list of open access ancient language textbooks for teaching Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Classical Armenian, and many more ancient languages.

Here are just a few of my go-to sites for OA, which I would hasten to note is not only a movement, but also an ideology.

Digital Repositories:

Hathitrust: The largest open access digital repository in English is the Hathitrust, which has close to 6 million volumes in the Public Domain, as well as digital pages from Google Books scans and Internet Archive. This repository began with a consortium of libraries within the University of California system, but now depends on the contributions of over 60 libraries across the nation.

Ancient Art History:

Getty Virtual Library: I have long been thankful for the Getty Open Content program in terms of their open licenses for images, but the Getty Virtual Library also has over 250 Getty publications online and open access.

Met Publications: The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 575 of their publications online and open access as PDFs. Thanks to Kristina Killgrove for the tip on this one!

Classics & Ancient History

Center for Hellenic Studies Online Publications: “As part of its mission of bringing together a variety of research interests centered on Hellenic civilization and sharing them with a wider audience, the Center for Hellenic Studies publishes books, journals, proceedings of colloquia, discussions, databases, lectures, and other materials, both online and in print.” I adore Casey Dué’s 2018. Achilles Unbound: Multiformity and Tradition in the Homeric Epics.

Journal of Roman Studies Monographs (Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies): I am a huge fan of the epigraphic and archaeological monographs in this series, particularly those centering on Aphrodisias. Bill Caraher notes we should also check out UCL Press’s growing catalogue of Open Access archaeology books.

JSTOR: For many years I have resisted and pushed back on, but I must admit they are just beginning to open up their vast catalogue of article for open access to all without an institutional license. Their free ebook collection is small but growing.

Luminos from University of California Press: A number of monographs in History published by the University of California Press are now online as free ebooks through the Luminos initiative. I have just finished Jenny Barry’s new book, Bishops in Flight: Exile and Displacement in Late Antiquity, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Near East Monographs from the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL): “The focus of this ambitious series is on the ancient Near East, including ancient Israel and its literature, from the early Neolithic to the early Hellenistic eras.” I am currently reading the newly posted Sounding Sensory Profiles in the Ancient Near East.

Project Muse: There are a few open access books within the Project Muse database as well, although it is predominantly OA articles and prescription-only ebooks.

University of Michigan Press Open Access Ebooks: There is a small but growing number of open access books focused on Classical Studies at the UMP press site. I have reviewed the Gabii volume and also enjoy Mark Graham’s News and Frontier Consciousness in the Late Roman Empire.

Classical Archaeology:

American School of Classical Studies at Athens: “ Many volumes within the Athenian, Agora, Corinth, and Hesperia Supplement series are out of print, and there are no current plans to reprint them. In 2014, the Publications Committee of the ASCSA’s Managing Committee voted unanimously to allow PDFs of these out-of-print volumes to be posted to the ASCSA’s website as Open Access…You may freely read, download, and share these files under the BY-NC-ND Creative Commons license. These are for non-commercial use only; you must cite the ASCSA as the source and you may not make derivatives.” Thank Andrew Reinhard for forging the way for this open access policy from the ASCSA.

Archaeopress Access Archaeology: “ Access Archaeology has been designed to make archaeological research accessible to all and to present a low-cost (or no-cost) publishing solution for academics from all over the world. Material ranges from monographs, conference proceedings, catalogues of archaeological material, excavation reports, doctoral theses and beyond.”

ASOR: Bill Caraher notes: “About 40% of the Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research is open access online.”

Digital Press of North Dakota: Bill Caraher notes: “[There are] several archaeology books (and more to come) from my little press, The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, including the Corinth Excavations manual.”

CAARI Monograph Series at the HathiTrust: The CAARI (Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute) series of open access monographs if published by the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR).

Oriental Institute Open Access Publications: “Starting in 2004, the Oriental Institute committed to digitizing all of its publications and making them available online, without charge. The minimum for each volume, old and new, current and forthcoming, will be a Portable Document Format (PDF) version following current resolution standards. New publications appear online at or near the time they appear in print. Older publications will be processed as time and funding permits. Several hundred volumes are now online.” Thanks to Prof. Derek Counts for the heads-up on this initiative.

Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC) Proceedings: “In 2013 TRAC adopted an Open Access policy to make past TRAC Proceedings freely available in digital format from our website. As of spring 2019, all TRAC conference proceedings have been migrated to a single Open Access platform which can be accessed here or from the proceeding contents below. All articles have been assigned a DOI in order to increase their discoverability.”

This is but a short annotated list of all the open access monographs relating to the ancient Mediterranean. I would implore you to read Andrew Reinhard’s essay on the necessity of open access publications over at Eidolon as you begin to formulate your syllabi, but also consider the merits of #OA whenever you are asked to, say, publish in a $180 edited volume from a closed access press. Is open access a priority in the classroom and in your publications? Maybe it should be. I will leave you with a quote from Reinhard that stuck with me:

One must consider the essential nature of open access research: newly published work is on the cutting/bleeding edge of any given discipline, adding to the bibliography and effecting change in any number of disciplines. Keeping that work trapped between two covers or in a paywalled silo does nothing to advance scholarship at the speed of digital transmission.

An niche-cover epitaph for an enslaved Roman librarius named Nothus, who served as a secretary and archivist. The poem notes his wife built this for him after Pluto snatched him to the underworld. It is now at the Baths of Diocletian epigraphic museum in Rome (Porta Maggiore, Tomb of the Statilii, Rome, 1stC CE, Image by Sarah E. Bond).

Originally published at on August 8, 2019.



Sarah E. Bond

Associate Professor of History at the University of Iowa. Ancient History, Digital Humanities, and Public History For All. Thoughts are my own, y'all.