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Using Images in Teaching and Publications

The initial purpose of this web page was to complement the Presidential Panel, “Images for Classicists,” at the 2012 Joint Meeting of the APA/AIA in Philadelphia. It is designed to help scholars locate and use images in their teaching and research. It is divided into three sections: tips for using images in teaching; guidelines for using images in publications; and an annotated list of websites with downloadable digital imagesThe papers from the panel have now been published, with a conceptual introduction and practical conclusion by Kathleen Coleman, as a Loeb Classical Monograph. It contains 88 pages of illustrations, most of them in color, and retails for $20. It is available from Harvard University Press.

Tips for Using Images in Teaching

  • to get the students to look at the image, keep written information to essentials
  • use images for substance, not merely for decoration
  • display images against a neutrally textured and visually restful background
  • do not crowd the screen
  • do not over-write the visual field
  • provide methodical attribution for each image, as applicable:
    • name/description of object
    • ancient provenance
    • modern location
    • handbook reference
    • date
    • dimensions
  • give the viewer time to assimilate details
  • teach students to “read” visual material
  • develop a searchable (and findable) database

Guidelines for Using Images in Publications

Images should be chosen for substance, with full recognition that they portray an individual artifact which must be acknowledged as such, not just an "interesting scene" that may relate, more or less distantly, to the topic discussed in the text. Images should be good quality and high resolution; an image that is blurred or heavily pixellated is no use. Check the proofs very carefully to make sure that the image is reproduced at a standard that reflects the quality of the image that you supplied.

Captions are critical. The caption to an image performs the same function as a footnote to a text: it supplies seminal information. The object portrayed should be identified in full. Name and provenance are the minimal essentials. Precise details are required, similar (but not identical) to the attribution of slides in a classroom setting (see above):

  • name/description of object
  • ancient provenance
  • date
  • modern location (and inventory number, if applicable)
  • photo credit

Follow a good model, such as the captions in Katherine M. D. Dunbabin, The Roman Banquet (Cambridge, 2003), from which the following examples are taken:

1. Instead of a vague "symposium scene on a red-figure vase," her Figure 5 reads:

"Attic red-figure kylix attributed to the Foundry Painter, side B: symposiasts and flute-girl. Ca. 490–480 BC. Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, courtesy of the Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge."

2. Instead of a vague "food mosaic from Antioch," her Figure 93 reads:

"Antioch, House of the Buffet Supper, mosaic with display of food. Probably early third century AD. Antakya, Archaeological Museum Inv. 937. Photo Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, neg. 4493."

If the publication includes a separate list of illustrations, the information supplied there and in the caption may be different. The list of illustrations focuses on the physical identity of the illustration that you have supplied:

  • ancient provenance
  • name/description of object
  • photo credit

The caption focuses on the content and context of the image itself, and may draw attention to significant features:

  • name/description of object
  • ancient provenance
  • significant features
  • date

Compare the following example, taken from Kathleen M. Coleman, M. Valerii Martialis Liber Spectaculorum (Oxford, 2006), pl. 21:

3. Entry in the list of illustrations (p. xi):

Templum Divi Vespasiani, Rome, frieze: urceus decorated with scenes from the arena. Musei Vaticani Archivio Fotografico, XXXI.45.3

4. Caption (p. 108):

Frieze from the architrave of the Templum Divi Vespasiani, Rome, detail of urceus decorated with a bestiarius confronting a lion and a leopard (upper register), and a rhinoceros confronting a bull (lower register). Before AD 87

Most editors are very particular about having reproduction permission in writing from the institution or individual holding the copyright for photographs. Note that the acquisition of the photograph itself and the permission to reproduce it are often two separate procedures, either or both of which may incur charges. If an institution does not already have a particular image in its archive, the fee for having the item photographed may be quite high.

When acquiring images for publication, it will be necessary to supply:

  • full bibliographical details of the publication
  • an estimate of the print run
  • a statement of cost of the publication or of the author's anticipated income from the project (or none, if that is the case)
  • a clear statement as to whether black/white or color is required (sometimes there is no option)

Start acquiring photographs and permissions well in advance. Museums and archives are often under-staffed. Depending upon the situation in a particular institution, it may be necessary to write more than once before a response is forthcoming.

Websites with Downloadable Digital Images

This list is arranged in three sections – Sites and Artifacts, Textual Material, Coins, Maps, and Museum and Archive Collections – with websites arranged alphabetically within each section. This list is not exhaustive; suggestions for additions are very welcome and should be sent to Kathleen Coleman (

Where free reproduction is permitted under a Creative Commons license, details are noted below. Reproduction rights for the other sites vary; for details, please consult the sites themselves.

Sites and Artifacts

AERIA - Antikensammlung Erlangen Internet Archive

  • Institut für Klassische Archäologie, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
  • Free access for all
  • Archive of photographs of sites and of objects in museum collections; photos from various periods; mostly in German

American Academy in Rome Digital Collections

  • Free access for all
  • Digitized historical photographs and drawings from the American Academy's collections; includes images from sites, monuments, and excavations in Italy; collections can be searched together or browsed separately

American School of Classical Studies at Athens Digital Photograph Collections

  • Free access for all
  • Searchable digitized collections of historical photographs of sites, excavations, and artifacts, primarily from Greece

Ancient World Image Bank

  • Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
  • Free access for all
  • Creative Commons (Attribution) license
  • Image donations accepted
  • Growing collection of photos and digitized slides of sites and monuments from throughout the ancient world, searchable and downloadable via a photostream


  • Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
  • Free access for all
  • Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works) license
  • Growing database of photographs in the DAI's collections; images of objects, architecture, and sites

ARTstor Digital Libary

  • Available by institutional subscription
  • An image library for the arts and sciences; high quality images, but ancient collection not comprehensive

Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum

  • contains digitized versions of out-of-print fascicles, linked to the database of the Beazley Archive at the University of Oxford
  • searchable by country or by museums and collections
  • each country or museum and collection searchable also by fabric, technique, shape, artist’s name, etc.

Digitales Forum Romanum: Forschungs- & Lehrprojekt des Winckelmann-Instituts der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin​

  • Digital Forum Romanum project, Winckelmann-Institut, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
  • Digital reconstruction of the Forum Romanum in various phases, plus associated resources (Wiki, bibliography, etc.)
  • Free access for all
  • Currently available in German, English, and Italian

The Forma Urbis Romae Fragment Database

  • Digital Forma Urbis Romae Project, Stanford University
  • Free access
  • Scholar's version contains high-resolution color photos and downloadable 3D models of all fragments of the Forma Urbis Romae, available to archaeologists and other scholars via a free license; public version contains half-resolution images and non-downloadable 3D models available without a license

IMAGO: The Roman Society Centenary Image Bank

  • Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies
  • Free access for all
  • Image donations accepted
  • Growing database of photos and digitized slides of sites, monuments, inscriptions, and objects from the Roman world

Maecenas: Images of Ancient Greece and Rome

  • Leo C. Curran
  • Free access for all
  • Digitized color and black and white images of sites throughout the Greek and Roman worlds; organized by site and monument; also searchable; includes images of non-ancient subjects useful for comparison

Perseus Art and Artifact Browser

  • Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University
  • Free access for all
  • Images of buildings, coins, gems, sculpture, sites, and vases with descriptions and citations; easily browsable by many categories and headings


  • Available by institutional or private subscription
  • Searches dozens of databases of digital images relating to archaeology and art history


  • Barbara F. McManus and Suzanne Bonefas
  • Free access for all
  • Images relating to classical antiquity optimized for use on the web; most do not have high enough resolution for quality printing

Wonders: Images of the Ancient World

  • New York Public Library
  • Free access for all
  • Digitized illustrations, lithographs, engravings, and photographs by artists and travelers from the 18th to the early 20th century; organized by subject; also searchable; images can be downloaded and prints can be purchased

Textual Material

Curse Tablets of Roman Britain

  • Center for the Study of Ancient Documents, Oxford University
  • Free access for all
  • Searchable and browsable database of curse tablets; entries include text, digital images, and line drawings

Duke Papyrus Archive

  • Duke University
  • Free access for all
  • Database of documentary papyri in the Duke Papyrus Archive, with downloadable photographs; searchable and browsable by subject

Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss-Slaby

  • Manfred Clauss
  • Free access for all
  • Searchable database of published Latin inscriptions, many with downloadable images

Gent Papyrus Collection

  • Universiteits Bibliotheek Gent
  • Free access for all
  • Downloadable images of literary papyri in the Gent Collection

Imaging Inscriptions

  • Center for the Study of Ancient Documents, Oxford University
  • Free access for all
  • Downloadable images of squeezes of published Greek inscriptions, organized geographically

Leuven Database of Ancient Books

  • Trismegistos
  • Free access for all
  • Database of Latin, Greek, Coptic, and Demotic literary texts, mostly on papyrus, with links to images

Ohio State University Epigraphy Collections

  • Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies, The Ohio State University
  • Free access for all
  • Growing collection of squeezes and photographs of published Greek and Latin inscriptions

  • Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
  • Free access for all
  • Creative Commons (Attribution) license
  • A tool for searching several papyrological databases at once; many entries include images

POxy: Oxyrhynchus Online

  • University of Oxford
  • Free access for all
  • Database of documentary and literary papyri from Oxyrhynchus, most with downloadable images

Vindolanda Tablets Online

  • Center for the Study of Ancient Documents, Oxford University
  • Free access for all
  • Searchable and browsable database of writing tablets from the Roman fort of Vindolanda in northern England; entries include text and high quality digital images in "zooming viewer"



  • American Numismatic Society
  • Free access for all
  • Searchable and browseable database of coins and medals in the Society's collections, most with downloadable images

Münzkabinett of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

  • Free access for all
  • Searchable and browseable catalogue of the coins in the collection; entries in German

Roman Provincial Coinage Online

  • University of Oxford
  • Free access for all
  • Searchable and browseable database of Roman Provincial Coinage from the Antonine Period, many with downloadable images

Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum

  • British Academy
  • Free access for all
  • Searchable database of coins in the published volumes of the SNG, most with downloadable images


Ancient World Mapping Center, Maps for Students

  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Free access for all
  • Downloadable small-scale reference maps of the ancient world for educational use; most are available in multiple formats

Museum and Archive Collections

The Art Institute of Chicago

  • Free access for all

British Museum, London

  • Free access for all

CAMIO (Catalog of Art Museum Images Online)
Online Computer Library Center

  • Available by institutional subscription
  • Searchable database of images of objects in major museums in the United States and Canada

Classical Art Research Centre and The Beazley Archive

  • University of Oxford
  • Free access for all
  • Searchable databases of Athenian black- and red-figure pottery, gems, sculpture, plaster casts in the Ashmolean Museum, antiquarian photographs, and inscriptions on Attic pottery

Cleveland Museum of Art

  • Free access for all
  • Extensive ancient collection; searchable and browsable by thumbnails

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

  • Free access for all

Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, Ann Arbor, MI

  • University of Michigan
  • Free access for all

Louvre, Paris

  • Free access for all
  • Atlas Database of items on display at the museum; continually updated

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

  • Free access for all

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  • Free access for all

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

  • Free access for all

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