The Institute for the Classical Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University is one of the most important research institutes specializing in the field of Classical Archaeology in the Czech Republic. Apart from the largest specialized library in the country (more than 15,000 volumes), the Institute also manages important historical collection of plaster casts of ancient sculptures (evidenced in The Central Registry of Collections of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic), together with collection of original items. Part of the collection is exhibited in the Gallery of Ancient Art at Duchcov chateau in northern Bohemia. It is one of few institutions within the Faculty of Arts that undertook archaeological research on three continents. The Institute actively collaborates with partner institutions in the Czech Republic and abroad.
The classical archaeology was founded at the Charles University by Professor Otto Benndorf in 1871. Among his followers at the German university was particularly Wilhelm Klein. The collection of plaster casts was part of the institute from its inception and both Benndorf and Klein greatly contributed to it during their tenure. After the university was split into the German and Czech school in 1883, the first professor of Classical Archaeology at the Czech university was Miroslav Tyrš. After his death the institute was headed by Hynek Vysoký and later by Jindřich Čadík and Růžena Vacková. Both suffered imprisonment during the Second World War and then again by the communist regime. Among other important figures of classical archaeology in the interwar period Czechoslovakia we must mention Antonín Salač. In the 1950s the Institute was merged with the Department of Classical Philology and Ancient History, creating Department of Classical Antiquity. In the beginning of the 1990s the Institute was established anew. The classical archaeology at the Charles University has long tradition and the Institute educated many top researchers who made name for themselves at home and abroad (e.g. Jiří Frel).
Current educational and research focus of the Institute is on the ancient art, the archaeology of the Mediterranean region (especially Italy and Greece), connections between the Central Europe and the Mediterranean and the Near East, Roman provincial archaeology and ancient traditions in the Czech and European art and architecture.
Classical archaeology in general deals mainly with the material culture of the Greek and Roman Antiquity from the Bronze Age to the Late Antiquity. The curriculum at the Institute covers Minoan and Mycenaean cultures of the Aegean, beginning of the Iron Age (i.e. the “Dark Ages”), Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic period in the Eastern Mediterranean. In the region of the Apennine peninsula the study covers Iron Age cultures (focusing on the Villanova culture), Etruscan and Republican archaeology and the Imperial period. Another area of study is Roman provincial archaeology and the contacts between the Central Europe and Mediterranean and other regions from Prehistory to the Late Antiquity.