Introduction to Classical Archaeology

Module code: AR1603

For centuries, many have considered the ‘Classical world’ of Ancient Greece and Rome to have been ancestral to Western civilization. Over more than a thousand years of history the peoples of the Greek and Roman worlds left rich physical remains for archaeologists to investigate, from cities founded by Alexander the Great in Afghanistan to Roman forts in Scotland. In many ways, the cities of the Roman provinces in Spain, North Africa, The Middle East and along the Danube and Rhine were the direct descendants of the cities of Classical Greece such as Athens and Sparta, and their overseas colonies such as Naples and Marseilles. Greeks were also great traders, traceable across the Mediterranean world by their wine jars and fine pottery; Rome brought the whole Middle Sea and much of Europe under a single government, leading to unprecedented urbanisation and trade also attested in ceramics, and in thousands of shipwrecks. Yet the success of Greek and Roman culture was also largely the result of violence: of wars of conquest, involving the deaths or enslavement of millions. Plunder paid for many temples and monuments, including Roman amphitheatres where gladiators fought, and exotic animals from the ends of the earth were slaughtered for public amusement. How, in a post-colonial world, can we use all these archaeological remains to understand the evolving world of Greece and Rome?

This module is delivered through a series of pre-recorded lectures, guided readings and self-assessed research exercises. Assessment for this module includes a poster on a selected Classical site, and a research essay. 

Some of the topics covered include: 

  • Introduction to the archaeology of the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Late Antique periods
  • key sites of Classical Europe, Africa and Asia
  • essential terminology for Classical Archaeologists
  • the archaeology of Classical work, home and religious life
  • the archaeology of Classical warfare and competition
  • the archaeology of trade and exchange
  • the technologies that made Classical material culture
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