Classical Studies

Open Access in 60 Seconds

Video about Open Access. (CC BY 3.0 DE)
Source: Brinken, H., Hauss, J. &  Rücknagel, J. (2021). Open Access in 60 seconds,

Open Access in Classical Studies

Classical studies – or classics – is an umbrella term for all disciplines that study the cultures of classical antiquity and the early history of the Near East and Eu­rope, with a particular focus on linguistic and material heritage. Because of the heterogeneity of these disciplines, it is difficult to make generalisations about the development of open access in classical studies. Nonetheless, a move towards open access publishing has taken place in the various sub-disciplines of classical studies in recent years. For example, Heidelberg University Library and Propylaeum – the Specialized Information Service Classics, together with representatives of the offices for the protection of monuments (Landesdenkmal­ämter) of the German federal states and the professional associations in the field of classical studies in Germany, have developed strategies for digital publishing in archaeology (see Mainzer Thesen zum Open Access Publizieren in der Archäologie). And in Egyptology, ancient history, and classical philology, a number of important journals and book series are now published open access. Of note here, for example, is the project Digital Classics Online, which was started by scholars of ancient history at the University of Leipzig. Its outputs also include the creation of the series Digital Classics Books.

Open Access Journals

As of November 2021, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) listed 182 open access journals under the search terms archaeology, ancient history, Greek language and literature, Latin language and literature, and history of the Greco-Roman world. In addition to these newly founded journals, existing journals are being retrodigitised and made available in open access. New editions of these journals either appear simultaneously in print and online, or the digital version is made freely available online upon expiry of an embargo period (moving wall).

Important open access journals include:

In collaboration with Propylaeum – the Specialized Information Service Classics, the University of Heidelberg provides a technical infrastructure for the publi­cation of open access journals. The service is addressed to classicists world­wide. As of November 2021, 40 open access journals were being made available via Propylaeum.

In addition, via its platform iDAI.publications, the German Archaeological Insti­tute (DAI) provides open access to digitally available journals (and monographs) of its own institute, for example Archäologischer Anzeiger, Chiron and e-Forschungsberichte.

Financing of Open Access Articles. [german] (CC BY 3.0 DE)
Source: Brinken, H. (2020). Finanzierung von Open-Access-Artikeln,

Open Access Books

As of November 2021, the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) listed 330 titles from the area of classical studies under subjects such as archaeology, ancient history to c 500 CE, classical history/classical civilisation, etc. The OAPEN Library listed over 400 titles from the field of classical studies (as of November 2021). 

The open access publication platform Propylaeum eBOOKs, which is provided by Heidelberg University Library, makes scholarly monographs from the fields of Egyptology, ancient history, Byzantine studies, classical archaeology, classical philology, medieval and neo-Latin philology, and pre- and early history available in open access. The works are either first-time publications (gold open access) or self-archived digital versions of monographs published elsewhere (green open access). The service, which is free of charge, is addressed to classical studies scholars worldwide. Also worthy of note is the series Berlin Studies of the Ancient World published by Edition Topoi.

Disciplinary Repositories

Propylaeum-DOK is the disciplinary repository of Propylaeum – the Specialized Information Service (FID) Classics. Scholars of classical studies can publish discipline-specific digital works (monographs, articles, conference papers, etc.) at no cost to readers and free of access restrictions. The self-archiving of digital versions of works already published in print form elsewhere is also possible and desired. As of November 2021, Propylaeum-DOK contained over 5,000 open access publications. 

An overview of relevant repositories is also provided by the Open Directory of Open Access Repositories (OpenDOAR) under History and Archaeology.

Source: Brehm, E. (2021). Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht für Wissenschaftler*innen [german], Brinken, Helene. (CC BY 3.0 DE)

Other Offerings

Subject portals and platforms

Databases and the like

Image Databases

  • Beazley Archive Pottery Database: Operated by the Classical Art Research Centre (CARC) at the University of Oxford, this is the world’s largest photo­graphic archive devoted to ancient Greek pottery.
  • Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum: a database operated by the Classical Art Research Centre (CARC) on behalf of the Union Académique Internationale (UAI), via which over 400 digitized catalogues of ancient pottery from 24 countries can be made freely available.
  • Virtual Catalogue of Roman Coins (VCRC): contains images and descrip­tions of coins from the Early Republic up to the end of the 4th century A.D.

Open Science in Classical Studies

  • Edition Topoi, Collections: an information infrastructure for the peer-reviewed publication of open access research data, such as 3D models, high resolution images, data, and databases
  • Research data at Propylaeum: Besides the possibility of self-archiving data in institutional research data repositories, the research data associated with open access works published or hosted by Propylaeum can be preserved in the long-term via Propylaeum.
  • Research data at IANUS: German research data centre for digital data from archaeology and classical studies

Further Reading

Content editor of this page: Dr Katrin Bemmann, Heidelberg University Library (Last updated: November 2021)