Cai Thorman


Position Title
PhD Candidate in the Study of Religion; UC Davis Provost’s Dissertation Year Fellow, 2019-2020

915 Sproul

Education and Degree(s): 

Institution: University of California, Davis, 2017
Degree or Certificate: M.A., Study of Religion (Ancient Mediterranean Religions, Islam)

Institution: University of California, Berkeley, 2008
Degree or Certificate: M.A., Ancient History & Mediterranean Archaeology

Institution: University of California, Davis, 2004
Degree or Certificate: Post-baccalaureate certificate, Classics (Greek & Latin)

Institution: Pomona College, Claremont, 1992
Degree or Certificate: B.A., Classical Languages & Literature (Greek & Latin) and Art

Teaching Experience: 

  • RST 132: Worshipping Gods, Worshipping Mortals in Greek, Roman & Near Eastern Religious Traditions (Lecturer, UC Davis, Religious Studies, SS II 2017, SSI 2018, Spring 2019)
  • CLA 30: Greek and Latin Elements in English Vocabulary (Teaching Assistant, UC Davis, Classics, Winter 2016, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Winter 2019)
  • RST 1H: Religion & Law (Teaching Assistant, UC Davis, Religious Studies, Fall 2015, Fall 2018)
  • RST 1F: Modern Religions (Teaching Assistant, UC Davis, Religious Studies, Winter 2014, Spring 2018)
  • RST 1G: Myth, Ritual & Symbol (Teaching Assistant, UC Davis, Religious Studies, Fall 2017)
  • CLA 50: Ancient Science (Teaching Assistant, UC Davis, Classics, Winter 2017)
  • RST 1E: Fundamentalism (Teaching Assistant, UC Davis, Religious Studies, Spring 2016)
  • AHI 175 / CLA 101A: Architecture & Urbanism in Mediterranean Antiquity / Topics in Mediterranean Civilizations (Lecturer, Study Abroad in Turkey, UC Davis, Art History & Classics, Summer 2014 & 2015)
  • RST 40: New Testament (Teaching Assistant, UC Davis, Religious Studies, Winter 2015)
  • RST 1D: Conversion (Teaching Assistant, UC Davis, Religious Studies, Fall 2014)
  • CLA 10: Greek, Roman & Near Eastern Mythology (Visiting Lecturer, UC Davis, Classics, SSI 2013)
  • CLA/AHI 173: Roman Art & Architecture (Visiting Lecturer, UC Davis, Classics and Art History, SSII 2012, SSI 2013)
  • CLA 51: Classical Mythology (Visiting Lecturer, University of the Pacific, Religious & Classical Studies, Spring 2012)
  • LAT 11B: Introductory Latin (Visiting Lecturer, University of the Pacific, Religious & Classical Studies, Spring 2012)


Cai Thorman is a PhD candidate in the Graduate Group in the Study of Religion (GGSR). Her major field of study is in Ancient Mediterranean Religions and Archaeology, with a minor field in Islam and a Designated Emphasis (DE) in Classics. Her wider conceptual interests encompass issues generated by the gap between the fields of Classical and Near Eastern archaeology, women in the ancient world, and interpretations of ancient world that have been biased by modern political and religious divisions. Her dissertation research focuses upon archaeological and historical evidence of cults of mortals in Greece, Anatolia, and the greater Mediterranean world and argues for a new theory of the development of ruler cult during the Hellenistic period. Prior to joining the graduate group, Cai completed a B.A. in Classical Languages and Literature and Studio Art at Pomona College, Claremont, which was followed by a post-graduate fellowship in “Underwater Archaeology in the Mediterranean,” sponsored by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation. As part of the fellowship, she worked on the Uluburun shipwreck excavation near Kaş, Turkey and pursued independent research in Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Italy, France, and Spain. She then worked for three years as a volunteer in the conservation laboratory of the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology and for a Turkish archaeologist at Ephesus, Pergamon, Miletos, Priene, and other sites in Ionia. This was followed by six years of work as an archaeological guide throughout Turkey and the Greek Dodecanese islands. After nine years in Turkey, she returned to the U.S. to complete a post-baccalaureate certificate in Greek and Latin at UC Davis and an M.A. in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology at UC Berkeley. Cai loves teaching and has taught her own courses as a lecturer since 2012, with one semester at the University of the Pacific and six years of summer sessions at UC Davis in the departments of Classics, Art History, and Religious Studies. Her courses have included topics such as Classical and Near Eastern mythology, Greek and Roman art and architecture, as well as self-designed courses in archaeology and ancient religion: UC Davis Summer Study Abroad program to Turkey in Classical & Underwater Archaeology (2014 & 2015) and “Worshipping Gods, Worshipping Mortals in Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern Religious Traditions” (RST 132, 2017-2019).

Language Certifications:

  • Ancient Greek
  • Latin
  • Turkish
  • French
  • German

Service Positions:

  • 2017-2019 Organizer of the Group for Reading Academic German
  • 2015-2019 UCD Graduate Student Association (GSA) Representative for the GGSR
  • 2014-2016  Graduate Group in the Study of Religion (GGSR) Graduate Student Representative

Research Interest(s): 

  • M.A. Thesis: “Anatolian Ruler Cult” (UC Berkeley)
  • The archaeology of religion in the ancient Mediterranean world, cults of mortals, women in the ancient world, Anatolian archaeology, orientalism, the effects of modern political and religious divisions on interpretations of ancient Mediterranean history.
  • Minor field: Islam
  • Designated Emphasis (DE): Classics

Honors and Awards: 

  • Provost’s Dissertation Year Fellowship in Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, University of California, Davis, 2019-2020
  • Graduate Student Travel Award, Graduate Studies, University of California, Davis, 2019-2020
  • Women's Classical Caucus (WCC) 2019 Pre-PhD Paper Presentation Prize
  • Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) 2019 Graduate Student Paper Award for Best Paper: “Matrilineal Lineage in Cult for Hellenistic Queens,” AIA and SCS Joint Annual Meeting, January 3-6, 2019, San Diego, CA
  • Society for Classical Studies (SCS) Travel Award, 2019
  • Women's Classical Caucus (WCC) Travel Award, 2019
  • DHI Reading and Writing Group Award (with Aron Tillema & Aaron French) for “Reading Academic German,” University of California, Davis, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Study of Religion Summer Dissertation Writing Fellowship, University of California, Davis, 2018
  • Study of Religion Summer Fellowship, University of California, Davis, 2016
  • Study of Religion Graduate Program Fellowship, University of California, Davis, 2013-2015
  • W. Kendrick Pritchett Fellowship for Graduate Study, University of California, Berkeley, 2004-2007
  • Honorarium for Outstanding Work and Contributions, Classics Department, University of California, Davis, 2004
  • Staff Assembly Scholarship, University of California, Davis, 2003-2004
  • Thomas J. Watson Traveling Fellowship, 1992-1993 "Underwater Archaeology in the Mediterranean" Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, Italy, France, Spain