UCB Libraries

Subject Guide: Classical Art & Architecture

  • Keywords
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Images
  • Web Resources
  • Evaluating & Citing Sources



This brief guide will help you research Classical art, architectecture, and archaeology, including Greek and Roman visual and material culture, architecture, and important sites.


If you need additional assistance, please use Ask Us to contact a librarian via phone, email, IM, text message, or in person.


What are you looking for?

Choosing appropriate search terms is an important first step in the research process. Take a few moments to brainstorm a list of keywords that describe your topic. Think of similar words that express the same concepts, broader and narrower terms, and important contextual information.


If you were interested in a piece of art or other object, your list of keywords might include:

  • object type
  • medium or materials
  • individual or cultural group responsible for production
  • site of discovery or use
  • era or time period of creation
  • style

If you were interested in a building or structure your list of keywords might include:

  • name of structure
  • architect or cultural group responsible for production
  • type of building
  • location
  • era or time period of construction
  • style

In addition to generating a list of keywords, take time to think about how those keywords are related. In general, knowing broader terms will help you find books, while narrower terms will be more useful for finding articles.


Important Reference Resources

Need help generating a list of terms related to your research topic, including contextual information? Try consulting one of the specialized reference resources listed below. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other tools can be very helpful during the early phases of your research.


Oxford Art Online

Specialized encyclopedia for art and architectural history. Entries are written by scholars in the field and include bibliographies and images. Most important reference resource for art history. Includes strong coverage for architectural history. VPN required for off-campus access.


New Pauly Online

Specialized encyclopedia on the culture of the ancient world. Entries are written by scholars in the field and include bibliographies and images. VPN required for off-campus access.


Oxford Classical Dictionary

Coverage of Greek and Roman history, literature, myth, religion, linguistics, philosophy, law, science, art and archaeology. VPN required for off-campus access.


Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium

Reference resource for the history and culture of the Byzantine empire. VPN required for off-campus access.


Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture

Art & Arch Reference N5610 .G76 2007


A Short Guide to Writing About Art

Art & Arch Reference N7476 .B37 2005

Not sure how to write a paper about art? This guide will help you learn how to analyze works of art and write an effective research paper.



Chinook - How to Find Books & More @ CU-Boulder

Chinook is the catalog for materials owned by the CU Libraries. You can do a title search for a specific book, or a keyword search if you are looking for books on a particular topic. You can also use MyChinook to renew books, see what you have checked out or on hold, and much more.

Chinook Catalog

When searching Chinook, you can connect your keywords using terms like AND, OR, NOT. You can also used parentheses, quotation marks, and asterisks.




AND: Greek AND Roman (must find both terms)

Phrases: “ancient Greece” (must find phrase in that order)

OR: figurine OR idol (must find one of the terms)

Synonyms: (figurine OR idol) AND Cycladic

NOT: Greek NOT language (must find first term and not second term)

Wildcards: classic* will find classics, classical, classicizing, etc.


Prospector - How to Find Books @ Other Libraries in Colorado

If you search Chinook and find that the CU Libraries do not have the item you are looking for (or if the item you are looking for is checked out), you can search Prospector, which is a combined library catalog of many libraries in Colorado and Wyoming.


Prospector is the FASTEST way to get a book if it is unavailable here at CU-Boulder.


WorldCat - How to Find Books @ Any Library

There might not always be an entire book about your research topic, or there might not be many books published on the subject.


Given that fact, you will want to use WorldCat instead of Chinook to search for books. WorldCat is an online catalog for over 9,000 libraries in the US and world wide, and it allows you to do a more thorough search than Chinook because you are not limited to only the items we already own. Instead, you are effectively searching the catalogs of most major libraries world wide.


For any books you find in WorldCat, you will be able to see if CU-Boulder owns that item. If you find something in WorldCat that we do not own, you should:

  1. Search Prospector to see if the book is available. If it is, request it via Prospector. The book will typically arrive in a few days, and you'll receive an email when it is ready for pick up.
  2. If the book isn't available via Prospector, you can request it via Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Please be aware that items ordered via ILL can take up to several weeks to arrive. Obviously, if your assignment is due very soon, this will not be an option.


Accessing WorldCat from Off Campus
If you want to use WorldCat while you are off campus, you must use VPN. For more information about how to download and install VPN, see the library's page on Off Campus Access.



Accessing Resources from Off Campus
If you want to use databases like the ones listed below while you are off campus, you must use VPN. For more information about how to download and install VPN, see the library's page on Off Campus Access.


Choosing a Database

In order to find articles on your topic, you will need to use a database. The library provides access to hundreds of databases, and many of them focus on a particular discipline such art, art history, or classics.


The Find Articles & More page provides access to all of these resources and arranges them by topic. To see databases for art, click on the plus sign next to "Art & Art History." To see databases for other subject areas such as architecture or classics, click on the plus signs next to those subject areas.


Selected Databases for Classical Art & Architecture

Année Philologique

Covers books, articles, dissertations, and conference proceedings on a range of classical subjects. Excellent general resource for the classical period.


Art Full Text & Art Retrospective

Provides access to scholarship on art and architectural history from prehistory to the present. Some full text available. Art Full Text covers publications 1984-present, while Art Retrospective covers 1929-1984.


Avery Index

Best resource for scholarship on architectural history and design. Covers publications 1973-present.


Bibliography of the History of Art (Getty Archive)

Good general resource for art historical scholarship, including articles, books, dissertations, and conference proceedings published 1975-2007. No longer updated, but still an important tool.



Full text of articles from important scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences.


Projekt Dyabola

Covers books, articles, and proceedings on Greco-Roman art, architecture, achaeology, and humanities. Compiled by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. Interface can be difficult to use. Guides to help you use it are available here and here.



Image Resources from the Libraries


Over one million images of visual and material culture, covering all geographic areas and historical periods. VPN required for off-campus access.


Art & Art History Collection via CU Digital Library

Maintained by the Department of Art & Art History Visual Resources Collection. Provides access to a growing collection of high-quality digital images. VPN required for off-campus access.


Architecture & Planning Collection via CU Digital Library

Maintained by the College of Architecture & Planning Visual Resource Center, this collection of over 46,000 images focuses specifically on architecture, landscape architecture, and the built environment. VPN required for off-campus access.


AP Images

Search for images from the Associated Press. Useful for finding images from newspapers, magazines, wires, etc. Excellent source for contemporary photos of historical sites. VPN required for off-campus access.


Image Resources on the Web

Flickr & Flickr Commons

Useful source for images of architecture and historical sites. Note that user-contributed photos vary in quality. Flickr Commons contains images from photographic archives, museums, and libraries.


Google Image Search

Use the advanced search options to find larger, higher quality images.



And finally... the Internet!

There are a number of high-quality, freely available resources for Classical art, architecture, and archaeology. Here are a few:


Beazley Archive

General information and images for the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. Maintained by the University of Oxford.


Perseus Digital Library

Primary and secondary source materials for the study of Greek and Roman art and culture. Hosted by Tufts University.


TOCS-IN: Tables of Contents of Journals of Interest to Classicists

Tables of contents for journals in Classical Studies, Near Eastern Studies, and Religious Studies. Hosted by the University of Toronto.



Scholarly vs. Popular Sources





Original research presented with evidence, critical arguments, and other material.

Discussion includes personal opinions, and typically focuses on material for entertainment or leisure.


Author's credentials are given, usually a scholar with subject expertise.

Author may or may not be named; often a professional writer; may or may not have subject expertise.


Editorial board is listed on cover or near the Table of Contents. Some publications may also note that articles are refereed by peer reviewers.

No editors listed and no referee process described.


Scholars, researchers, students.

General public; the interested non-specialist.


May use specialized terminology.

Vocabulary in general usage; understandable to most readers.

References (Endnotes, Footnotes, etc)

Required. All quotes and facts can be verified. A bibliography is also usually included.

Rare. Little, if any, information about sources.


Contribute to your understanding of the text; could include diagrams, charts, or other technical material.

Often merely provide pleasing visual content rather than support for assertions in the text.

Example Publication

Art in America

American Artist


Citation Styles & Management

For information about citing print and electronic sources in a range of styles, see “How to Cite a Source.”


Using MLA Style? See the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Using Chicago Style?  See the Chicago Style Quick Guide or the full version of the Chicago Manual of Style.


Writing a longer paper and need to keep track of citations? RefWorks allows you to save citations and retrieve them later using "Find it at CU" buttons. Citations from most databases can be easily exported directly to RefWorks. RefWorks can also create bibliographies in virtually any citation style, and can be used with Microsoft Word to format footnotes and endnotes correctly. Zotero is a similar tool that is available for free.


Need More Help?

Wondering if you're citing something correctly? Or maybe you need help with structuring your paper? Take advantage of the CU Writing Center. Making an appointment with a consultant at the Writing Center allows you to receive one-on-one help with your writing.


Want to speak with a librarian right now? You can contact us in person, via the phone, or even over IM. Use the Ask Us page to chat with a librarian even if you're away from campus.