Deconstructing Sparta

Module code: AH2552

Sparta is one of the most recognizable yet least understood cities of the ancient world. As one of the two most significant Greek city-states, Sparta plays a significant role in our conception and definition of what Greek history is, yet in reality very little is known about Sparta, the city. In both ancient and modern texts, Sparta is renowned more for its reputation than any historical or material reality.

This module will provide an overview of Spartan history and archaeology, and will critically examine the mythological, literary, and archaeological reconstruction of the city-state from the Archaic through to the late Roman periods. It will examine the place of Sparta in both the ancient and modern imagination, and emphasise Sparta’s capacity to constantly re-invent itself, by deconstructing how Spartan society was organised; from the soldiers, the Spartan women that enjoyed greater freedoms than that of other Greek women, to the Helots (fellow Greeks who were captured by the Spartans and enslaved) that handled all the daily tasks that was essential for keeping Spartan society running.


This module is studied by distance learning. Teaching materials will include a module workbook and set readings, some of which will be delivered through Blackboard.


  • Source criticism, 1,500 words (30%)
  • Essay, 3,000 words (70%)