The Roman empire has held the imagination of successive generations. Conquest by Rome brought social, cultural and economic change to large swathes of what is now Europe, the Middle East and north Africa. Never before or after did these parts of the world enjoy centuries of stability and peace as they did under the Romans. It was a unique political institution that encompassed a mosaic of peoples, languages and cultures that was unprecedented in its richness, leaving a legacy that has profoundly shaped the course of Western civilisation.
The success and longevity of the Roman empire has fascinated many, and long after its demise it remained a model for the European and American imperialism in the nineteenth, twentieth and even twenty-first centuries. The great wealth of the archaeological evidence has produced a long tradition of scholarship, but in the last twenty years, new approaches have reawakened these debates, making the study of the Roman world one of the most dynamic fields within archaeology, with major implications for other areas of the Humanities. Post-colonial discourse, theorists of Globalisation and North African states trying to raise their agricultural output, to name just few, have all looked back to the Roman Empire for clues.
So what was the story of the Roman empire’s success? How did it come to be, how was it maintained, and what factors were involved in the fracture and transformation of the system? In this module, you will look at the causes, consequences and the changing nature of Roman imperialism and its political, social, cultural and economic foundations. You will touch upon key issues and debates in Roman archaeology and learn about major sites and artefact types from all parts of the Roman world, as well as having the opportunity to handle Roman material culture. Assessment is through an essay based on a group presentation, and a final exam.