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Study information

History through Art and Archaeology

Module titleHistory through Art and Archaeology
Module codeCLAM100
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Christopher Siwicki (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module looks at the art and archaeology of the Mediterranean world and the Roman provinces as exciting and methodologically challenging sources contributing to a better understanding of the social, cultural, and economic history of these areas. Subjects will be chosen from a wide range of options including the art and archaeology of Greece and Rome including its provinces, early Italy, Achaemenid Persia, and Greco-Roman Egypt, which will be analysed and discussed according to current methodological approaches, and with a view to key debates in the field.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module provides a framework for critical discussion of historical and socio-cultural themes through the analysis and interpretation of material and visual culture as well as other forms of archaeological evidence. It addresses key debates on the construction and transformation of ancient communities, exploring notions of identity, cult, language, economy as well as forms of settlement and political organisation. A closer look at art and architecture provides the basis for an examination of the ancient viewer, representations of the self and 'other', as well as ways of reading image and space. Overall the course aims to give you the tools to access those histories and ideologies which appear unattainable through the literary sources alone, allowing for the expansion of existing narratives and challenging the underlying models which inform our understanding of key historical and cultural processes and constructs.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Understand and appreciate the qualities and methods of using material and visual culture
  • 2. Work critically with different types of material/archaeological evidence, and to use them in effective combination as a tool of historical and socio-cultural analysis and reconstruction

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Collate and analyse widely different types of evidence, much of which is incomplete and ambiguous in its significance
  • 4. Draw independent inferences about the relationship of myth to its cultural and historical context
  • 5. Reflect critically on the origins, development and significance of traditional stories in one's own and another culture

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Apply key bibliographical skills, the latest forms of information retrieval, as well as word-processing skills
  • 7. Think autonomously and analytically on the basis of written and visual sources and secondary literature
  • 8. Construct and defend a sustained argument (both in written form and orally)
  • 9. Work with instructor and peers in an independent, constructive and responsive way

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

Topics chosen from the following:

A) Archeo-Historical Section: Material culture and historical questions; Approaches and theories of interpretation; Explaining change: crisis, growth, migration and new trends

B) Visual Culture and Society: Visual theory and history of viewing; Reading imagery in pre-Classical (Egypt, Assyria) and Classical civilisations; Art and élite ideology; Material evidence and the non-élite; The visual culture of gender; Art and rulership; Representations of Greeks and foreigners; Ethnic identity in art and archaeology; Reception of Classical imagery in the West 1500 to today

C) Methods and Tools: Excavation techniques; Archaeological surveys; Organic material; Epigraphic evidence; Museology and display

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching15Intensive seminar and reading group teaching
Guided independent study 135Working independently and in groups in preparation for seminars and essays

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay4000 words1-8Mark; written and oral feedback
Oral presentationc. 15-20 mins1-9Mark; written and oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay804000 words1-8Mark; written and oral feedback
Presentation2020 minutes1-9Mark; written and oral feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8Referral/Deferral period
PresentationEssay1-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • E. D’Ambra, Art and Identity in the Roman World (London 1998).
  • S.E. Alcock et al. (eds), Empires. Perspectives from Archaeology and History (Cambridge 2001).
  • G. Barker, A Mediterranean Valley (Leicester 1995).
  • M. Biddiss, M. Wyke (eds), The uses and abuses of Antiquity (1999),
  • R. Brandt, L. Karlsson, From Huts to Houses transformations of Ancient Societies (1997/ 2001).
  • R. Brock, S. Hodkinson, Alternatives to Athens varieties of Political Organization (Oxford 2000)
  • D. Buitron Oliver, The Interpretation of Architectural Sculpture in Greece and Rome (London 1997)
  • E. Chilton (ed.), Material Meanings. Critical approaches to the interpretation of material culture (Salt Lake City 1999).
  • J. Elsner, Art and the Roman Viewer (Cambridge 1995).
  • D. Fredrick, The Roman Gaze. Vision Power and the Body (Baltimore, London 2002).
  • E. Gombrich, Art and Illusion (Princeton 2000, 11th ed.).
  • E. Hall, Inventing the Barbarian (Oxford 1989).
  • Hodder, Symbols in Action. Ethnoarchaeological studies of material culture (Cambridge 1982).
  • P. Horden, N. Purcell, The Corrupting Sea (Oxford 2000).
  • S. Jones, The Archaeology of Ethnicity. Constructing Identities in the Past and Present (London 1997).
  • E.N.B. Kampen et al., Sexuality in Ancient Art (Cambridge 1996).
  • M. Marvin, The language of the muses: the dialogue between Roman and Greek sculpture (Los Angeles 2008).
  • R.T. Neer, Art and archaeology of the Greek World: a new history, c.2500-c.150 BCE (London 2012).
  • E.E. Perry, The aesthetics of emulation in the visual arts of ancient Rome (Cambridge [u.a.] 2005).
  • S. Shennan (ed.), Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity (London 1989)
  • M. T. Stark (ed.), The Archaeology of Social Boundaries (Washington and London 1998).
  • P. Stewart, Roman Art (Oxford 2004).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Art, Archaeology, Material Culture

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

Feb 2013

Last revision date