Ancient Studies
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Dr Samantha Masters


​​SamDemonstratingVaseIziko.jpgSenior Lecturer
Postgraduate Co-ordinator

BA Hons, MA (Classics) University of Natal, Durban
PhD (Classics), University of Exeter

Arts 338


Curriculum Vitae


I am a scholar of classical material culture and I’ve been intrigued with the ancient w​orld since my grandmother thrilled me with stories of visits to the Athenian Acropolis, the Colosseum of Rome and the caldera of Vesuvius. My research interests focus on classical art and visual/material culture. Alongside the study of the iconography and ‘language’ of Attic painted pottery, and studies of art as a communicative medium, I also work on the reception of classical material culture in Southern Africa and collections of ancient artefacts in South African Museums. This includes the collection at Iziko Museums of South Africa in Cape Town, where I am a Research Associate, and several other collections. 

First-hand experience with objects from antiquity presents an ideal teaching and learning opportunity and handling ancient artefacts is definitely one of the highlights of my job. The tactile nature of the objects brings the past into relief alongside the present, highlighting the thread of humanity that joins us to people who lived thousands of years ago. 

I am passionate about connecting with other scholars of classics in Africa (and am building a directory), research, postgraduate development, supervision, mentorship and teaching and enjoy using creative projects and playful perspectives (like Lego Classicism) to engage students’ creative and critical thinking and approach issues of contemporary relevance. 

I am also very pleased to have been initiated into the Lego Classicists F​amily in 2020.

Areas of Specialisation​​​​​​​ 

  • Greek and Roman material culture 

  • Iconography and the language of images on Greek pottery

  • Antiquities collections in South Africa

  • Classical reception in South Africa

Courses in 2022

  • ​​​Ancient Cultures 144 Introduction to the Ancient World II (Greece and Rome) ​​​​​

  • Anc​ient Cultures 221/321 ​Ancient Greek Drama

  • Ancient Cultures 241/341 In Bed with Ancient Societies: Sex in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome

  • Ancient Cultures 251/351 Ancient Roman Women​

  • Ancient Cultures Honours Classical Sculpture Revisited

  • Postgraduate Research Skills and Methods

Current Research Projects

  • Database of Greek and Roman antiquities in South African Collections

  • Greek figurines in the Iziko Museums of South Africa

  • Reception of Classical art in contemporary South African Art

  • South Africa, Greece, Rome: a digital museum

Selected Publications - Books

  • Masters, S., Nzungu, I. & G.R. Parker (eds.). (u)Mzantsi Classics: Dialogues from Southern Africa. Cape Town: African Minds; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Forthcoming 2022.

Selected Publications - Articles and Essays

  • All Rhodes lead to Rome? Re-thinking the Commemorative Landscape in South Africa after The Fall. In S. Masters, I. Nzungu, and G.R. Parker (eds.), Africa, Greece, Rome: Decolonising Classics. Cape Town: African Minds and Liverpool, Liverpool University Press. Forthcoming 2022.

  • A Woman in Danger or a Dangerous Woman? "Helen"on Archaic Attic Vases. In C. Lang-Auinger and E. Trinl (eds.), Greek Vases as a Medium of Communication. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Österreich Beiheft 3. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press. 2021.

  • Museum Space and Displacement: Collecting Classical Antiquities in South Africa. In G. Parker (ed.), South Africa, Greece and Rome: Classical Confrontations, 283–315.  Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press. 2018.

  • (with A. Andrason) (Un)Identifying Helen and Paris in Late Fifth Century BCE Athenian Vase-Painting: How Context is Crucial. In D. Rodríguez Perez, Greek Art in Context. Current Approaches to Archaeological and Art Historical Research. London: Routledge. 2017.

  • (with T. Welman) Disrupting Context: Making a Case for the Digital Curation of Classical Antiquities in South Africa. Akroterion 60: 83–99. 2015.​​

Awards and Affiliations

  • Honorary Research Fellow, College of Humanities, Department of Classics and Ancient History, Exeter University  (2022)

  • Honorary Research Associate, Iziko Museums of South Africa, Cape Town (2021)

  • Mellon Academic Staff Development Programme Award (2014)

  • NRF Thuthuka Grant (2013-2015)

  • NRF Prestige Scholarship for PhD

  • Vogel Scholarship for travel abroad (2008)



  • ​​Vice-chair, Classical Association of South Africa, Western Cape (2021-2023)

  • External examiner, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 2020-current School of Languages, Classics section 

  • Member of the editorial board of the journal Akroterion​

  • Advisor, Living Antiquity Schools Project​

  • External examining for University of Cape Town School of Languages and Literatures, Classics section 2012-2017​

  • Stellenbosch University Academic Offering Committee Vice-chair 2016-2017, Member 2013-2017