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The University of Southampton

ARCH1030 Ancient and Medieval Worlds

Module Overview

Classics, Christianity and Islam: these are the three cultural forces which have shaped the modern west. All three impacted on the Mediterranean between between 1000BC and AD1000, and can be traced through the archaeology. In this module, you will have the opportunity to learn about the advent of Greek, Roman, Christian and Islamic culture, and the key characteristics of each. Using a series of regional case-studies, you will be able to explore how these impacted (or not) on specific groups of people, thinking about issues of cultural negotiation, religious interaction, and power.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • developments in the classical and early medieval world through the following themes: 1. Geography - changing urban and rural landscapes 2. Belief - the role of religion and the divine 3. Identity - changing concepts of ethnicity, citizenship and status 4. Power - the nature of authority: personalities, factions and constitutions 5. Exchange - cultural connectivity and commerce
  • demonstrate your ability to locate, appraise and critically assess written and material sources of evidence to explore these themes in detail, by means of an annotated bibliography of specific site (assignment 1) and an essay discussing one of the course themes (assignment 2).
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Locate and reference sources of evidence relevant to particular cases and questions.
  • Evaluate, critically appraise and synthesise different sources of evidence
  • Construct a coherent argument
  • Appreciate the interaction of different disciplines
  • Understand the nature of culture contact and change
  • Deal with material and written evidence and its application to historical questions
  • Consider the evidence of the past presented by standing buildings as well as below-ground data
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply data to a specific question
  • Work on an individual assignment
  • Manage a structured work programme
  • Write a coherent and grammatical assignment


Part One of this module will introduce you to the primary materials used to study the Ancient and Medieval worlds, such as archaeological materials, ancient texts, buildings and iconography, using a series of case- studies to illustrate the potentials and problems with these. These will be followed by group presentations in which you will present a range of evidence for a specific site. In Part Two we will explore the changing societies and cultures of the region, using a chronological framework, from the rise of the polis through to the emergence of the Medieval kingdoms and the development of the Islamic world. In the final part of this module you will look at the question of how we conceptualise the Mediterranean in the Classical and post-Classical period, and how this has responded to contemporary political contexts. Topics covered on this module normally include: - The geography of the Ancient and Medieval World - A very brief history of the Ancient and Medieval World - Sources and Materials (Archaeological Finds, Images, Classical Texts, Buildings, Excavation Reports) - Rise of the Polis - Classical Greece - Hellenistic empires - Roman Republic - High Empire - Late Antiquity - After Rome in the East and in the West - The fragmentation of the Islamic world - The Byzantine and Carolingian Empires - Unity and Diversity: Key themes in the classical and medieval world - The impact of the classical and medieval worlds on contemporary society

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will principally be undertaken through two weekly lectures, with some additional seminars. During the module you will make a brief presentation about a case study site which will form the basis for Assignment 1. You are expected to do 150 hours of study for this module, approximately 10 hours per week. This will consist of 20 hours of lectures plus 5 seminars. You should expect to do at least 1 hour of follow-up reading for each lecture, 4 hours preparatory reading for each seminar, 35 hours preparation for each of the 2 assignments, and 14 hours preparation for the presentation.

Completion of assessment task84
Wider reading or practice20
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Garnsey, P. and Saller, R. (1987). The Roman Empire: economy, society and culture. 

Brown, P. (1978). The Making of Late Antiquity. 

Osborne, R. (1996). Greece in the Making, 1200-479BC. 

Cunliffe, B. (2008). Europe between the Oceans. 

Kennedy, H. (1986). The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates: The Islamic Near East from the Sixth to the Eleventh Century. 

Cameron, A. (1993). The Mediterranean world in Late Antiquity. 

Whitley, James (2003). The Archaeology of Ancient Greece. 

Bowersock, G., Brown, P. & Grabar, O (2000). Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World. 

Alcock, S.E. and Osborne, R. (2007). Classical Archaeology. 

Sparkes, BA (ed). (1998). Greek Civilisation: an introduction. 

Shipley, G. (2000). The Greek World after Alexander, 323-30BC. 

Milwright, M. (2010). An Introduction to Islamic Archaeology. 



Group presentation


MethodPercentage contribution
Case Study Analysis  (1000 words) 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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