MA Ancient History/Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (LABS) Options
Students should refer to the degree structure when selecting modules. All module selections will be approved by the Degree Tutor.
Modules running in 2017/18:
- HISTG012/HISTG022 Classical Chinese Medicine
This module aims to provide knowledge of the background and development of key concepts and practices in the early history of Chinese medicine, with a secondary focus on its interrelations with the history of Indian and Tibetan medicine. It will analyse the transmissions of these Asian medical systems and traditions to Europe and the practice of traditional medicine in the modern world. The module will give a broad historical perspective, whilst at the same time focusing on the social, cultural and political contexts of key times of medical innovation.
Credits: 15 (HISTG012) OR 20 (HISTG022)
Assessment: (HISTG012) 1 X 4,000 word essay; (HISTG022) 1 X 5,000 word essay
- HISTGA11B/HISTGA04B Continuity and Change in the Ancient Near East
This module focuses on the Neo-Assyrian Empire from the 10th to the 7th century BC, examining trends of continuity and change in political, social and intellectual life. Throughout, the emphasis i on a critical evaluation of a diverse corpus of evidence and assessment of relevant scholarly literature, with particular focus on art-historical approaches to Assyrian visual culture.
Credits: HISTGA11B (15) OR HISTGA04B (20)
Assessment: (HISTGA11B) 1 X 4,000 word essay; (HISTGA04B) 1 X 5,000 word essay
- HISTGA69B: Hellenistic Epigraphy
This course introduces students to a very important and exciting source of evidence for the history of the Hellenistic world, namely inscriptions on stone. Much of Hellenistic history, be it ‘high’ politics and diplomacy, economic history, the history of institutions, religious or cultural history, cannot be known or studied other than through inscriptions. As the annual volumes of the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (SEG) show, this is one of the few branches of ancient history where source material does not remain static, but is constantly renewed. Every newly discovered inscription may bring the solution to a long-standing problem, reveal a previously unknown new cult, illuminate aspects of civic finance or social organization. Certain areas of life (the world of athletics, the gymnasium and Panhellenic festivals; religion; all kinds of financial transactions; royal diplomacy) are known largely through inscriptions. Hellenistic epigrams and longer literary inscriptions provide points of reference for those interested in the literature and poetry of this period. Inscriptions offer essential information about prosopography (the study of individuals and their connections) and onomastics (the study of names), and of topograhy.
The course consists of ten seminars built around inscriptions, either focussing on a theme, or on a set of texts, or a region, or on important new texts. The content of this term will vary from year to year. Students will be asked to work on a particular document or set of documents and present the results of their research in a seminar.
Prerequisite for this course is a good knowledge of ancient Greek (A-level or equivalent). A reading knowledge of French and/or German (or modern Greek) would be useful but is not a requirement.
- A critical historical study (c. 5000 words) of an epigraphical document or a set of documents
- HISTGA70A/HISTGA09A Propaganda and Ideology in Ancient Rome A
The aim of this module is to analyse the role played by political ideas in the Roman Republic. Beginning with the study of concepts such a Fides, Virtus, and Honos (Trust, Virtue, and Honour) that are first attested in Rome in the third century BC as deities, the course will proceed by analysing other values such as Concordia and Libertas (Concord and Liberty) that, although originally attested according to our literary tradition in the early Republic, also play an essential role throughout the Republic and in the writing of Roman thinkers of the first century BC. The most prolific period of republican activity in establishing these cults of abstract ideas corresponds to the age of so-called Roman imperialism, which saw the conquest of the Italian peninsula, the defeat of Carthage, and the establishment of Roman dominion over the Hellenistic East. Therefore, the course will study these ideas within the context of Roman contacts with other Italic peoples and the Greek world both of South of Italy and Greece mainland, to whose intellectual stimuli the Romans constantly reacted and with whom they always negotiated, continuously re-elaborating their intellectual framework. Given the dearth of extensive literary evidence for this time, the module will also exploit the visual vocabulary of these societies as well as the topographic context and the archaeological data available. Thus, the module will aim at providing Rome with a proper place within the study of intellectual history, moving away from a vision of Rome as a mere appendix of sophisticated Greece, and as a culture the only intellectual interest of which lies in Cicero’s texts. The history of the use of these ideas so reconstructed will be immersed in the context of the socio-political world of Rome so as to identify what ‘the Romans could do with their words’.
Credits: 20 (HISTGA09A) OR 15 (HISTGA70)
Assessment: (HISTGA09A) 1 x 5,000 word essay; (HISTGA70) 1 X 4,000 word essay
- HISTGA72A/HISTGA73A Lived Ancient Religion in Hellenistic Greece
This module explores the possibility of an individual ‘religious identity’ as a novelty of the Hellenistic period, developed in addition to the cults and rituals offered by Greek poleis. The focus will be upon one aspect in the religious life of individuals in the Aegean that is known to us mainly from sources other than literature, namely religious associations. These groups of worshippers are recorded mainly from the end of the fourth century BCE, a period in which many Greek poleis experienced a huge influx of immigration from all over the Mediterranean and beyond, which brought with it new rituals, deities and religious traditions. A leading question will be whether these religious associations were the result of political and social changes in a period of political upheaval as the Greek cities were in the process of losing their autonomy, or whether there were other reasons for their popularity as for example cross-cultural exchange and the experience of different religious systems such as Judaism and gods such as those of the Egyptian cults. The first five sessions will engage with questions concerning the political and social dimensions of these associations, their place within the religious landscape of a city and the nature of the people involved with them. The last five sessions will be dedicated to more personal dimensions. We will consider the religious motivations behind founding and participating in religious associations. By engaging with the activities practised at their gatherings, such as mysteries, banquets, musical and theatrical performances, we will try not only to identify reasons for their popularity but also to reconstruct the various facets and shapes an individual’s religious life could take.
Credits: 20 (HISTGA73A) OR 15 (HISTGA72A)
- HISTGA73A - 1x 5,000 word essay
- HISTGA72A - 1x 4,000 word essay
- HISTGA76A/HISTGA77A Hellenistic Encounters with Egypt
DR JULIETTA STEINHAUER
This course sets out to explore Greek encounters with Egypt during the Hellenistic period. The aim of the course is, on the one hand, to gain a better understanding of the idea of Egypt as a mysterious and exotic country as created for example in Greek literature. On the other hand, we will investigate the impact that the actual Egyptian Diaspora and Egyptian migrants may have had on Hellenistic Greek cities such as Delos. We will analyse in several case studies the manifestation of Egyptian culture in Greece by looking at the epigraphic and archaeological evidence that can enlighten us about Graeco-Egyptian interactions in Alexandria, mainland Greece, the Aegean and Asia Minor. To complete the picture, we will analyse the archaeological evidence from Syracuse and the bay of Naples, both of which were focal points of trade between Greece and Italy in the Hellenistic period. We will briefly glance at the Roman Imperial period, in which Egypt still had this ‘special notion of (mysterious) wisdom and antiquity’ about it that was initially attributed to it by Greek writers from Homeric times onwards. Now, however, ‘Egypt (itself) was religion’. For the Hellenistic period, this is not true just yet but the comprehensive association with Egypt that is reflected in the sources in all genres (literary, epigraphic and archaeological) features most famously the Egyptian idea of an afterlife and with this the Egyptian gods, particularly Osiris and Isis. The discussion will be centred around two main themes: 1. What made Egyptian culture and religion so fascinating and so seductive a topos? 2. How is Egypt or the idea of Egypt reflected in the literary, epigraphic and archaeological records outside Egypt?
Credits: 20 (HISTGA77A) OR 15 (HISTGA76A)
Assessment: (HISTGA77A) 1 X 5,000 word essay; (HISTGA76A) 1 X 4,000 word essay
- HISTGA78A/B Babylon: Memories of Empire (Imperial Babylon, c.627-539BC) & HISTGA79A/B Babylon under imperial rule, 539-c.50BC
This module — either half of which can also be taken as a stand-alone half-module — focuses on the famous city of Babylon in the period c. 600-c.100 BC. How did such an ephemeral empire leave such a lasting impression, not only on its immediate successors but also on major world cultures right through to today?
In the first term we will concentrate on its brief heyday as the centre of a powerful territorial empire ruling most of the Middle East (c.627–539 BC) under kings such as Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus. We shall also consider its powerful legacy in the Biblical and Classical traditions, and consider the extent to which archaeological rediscovery has affected those tropes. This half will, I hope attract students taking the MA in Reception of the Ancient World, the MA in Jewish Studies, as well as the usual cohort of students on the MAs in Ancient History, Classics, and Archaeology of Egypt and the Near East.
In the second term we will consider the long afterlife of the city and its cultural hinterland under the Achaemenid, Seleucid and Parthian empires (539–c.50 BC). At times Babylon was a centre of concerted political and cultural resistance to imperial rule, determined to reclaim its former independence; at others it appears to have been a more docile subject. This half will appeal to MA students who may have learned about the great Middle Eastern empires through classical sources but now want to view them from within, but will also allow regional specialists to explore ‘late’ periods not normally covered in undergraduate syllabuses.
- MDVLGL01/MDVLGL07 Beginner's Latin for Research
DR MARIE-PIERRE GELIN & DR LUCIA PATRIZIO GUNNING
This module attracts students from many disciplines, including Classics, Ancient History, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Theology and English. Students taking this module do not need to have any previous experience of learning Latin, although it may be useful to have some knowledge of a modern language.
Credits: 30 (MDVLGL01) OR 40 (MDVLGL07)
Assessment for both MDVLGL01/MDVLGL07: in class tests (25%) and a three-hour unseen examination (75%)
Preparatory reading: Students taking the module should obtain a copy of: Susan Shelmerdine, Introduction to Latin, Focus Publishing, 2013, which consists of one single volume. Copies can be purchased from Waterstones in Gower Street. Additionally, students will need to obtain a dictionary - Chambers-Murray Latin-English Dictionary is a good option.