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Aims and objectives

  1. To introduce the range and variety of Greek and Roman archaeology and art, and the types of evidence available, expanding the knowledge acquired in 1A.
  2. To introduce the general principles of archaeology, as applied to the Greek and Roman worlds.
  3. To explore the ways in which iconography in the ancient world has been studied in modern times, and how this integrates with other archaeological approaches to ancient societies.


Scope and structure of the examination paper 2021–22

The syllabus is based around the following topics: (i) Constructs of Classical Art; (ii) Mycenae - City of Legend; (iii) Roman Britain; (iv) Late Classical and Hellenistic Sculpture; (v) Surveying Ancient Landscapes (taught in ET21).

Candidates must answer three questions, including Question 1. Question 1 will contain a choice of five pairs of images for comment, one pair corresponding to each of the topics taught in the year (including ET21); candidates must answer on three images, no more than one image per pair. There will also be two essay questions corresponding to each of the topics taught in the year (including ET21). All questions carry equal weight.


Course descriptions


(8 L: Michaelmas)

Art in the Classical world was made by artists; but 'Classical art' is a category created by scholars, collectors, and curators. This course explores how the production of art in Greece and Rome was perceived (aesthetically), believed (theologically), and received (intellectually). Primary focus is upon visual culture; however, some close reading is also involved (from authors such as Pliny the Elder, Pausanias and Philostratus). How far do such testimonies guide us through what survives of art-objects deemed as 'Classical' - and what are the alternative ways of understanding ancient iconography?

A 'reader' of select Greek and Latin passages (with translations) will be compiled for the course and made available on Moodle.

Core bibliography: R. Neer, The Emergence of the Classical Style

R. Osborne, Archaic and Classical Greek Art

J.J. Pollitt, The Art of Ancient Greece: Sources and Documents

N. Spivey, Greek Sculpture

J. Tanner, The Invention of Art History in Ancient Greece

C. Vout, Classical Art: A Life History from Antiquity to the Present Day



(8 L: Lent)

Mycenae is one of the most important cities of the ancient world. Following the excavations and dazzling discoveries there of Heinrich Schliemann, Mycenae became one of the most important type-sites for the archaeology of the Bronze Age Aegean, paving the way for the systematic exploration of Greece's rich pre-classical past. Known in Homer as 'rich in gold' and immortalised in ancient Greek literature as the capital of Agamemnon, Mycenae has long been vested in a legendary aura.

This course examines in detail the site's history, art and archaeology from its earliest Neolithic beginnings down to its modern rediscovery. Among the aims of the course is to familiarise students with sources, methods, and tools available to us today that can help us reconstruct and understand the history and significance of a site over time.

As part of the course we will explore the identity and power base of Mycenae's elite, through exploring high status artefacts, monumental architecture, iconography, and evidence for cult activity. The 'shaft graves' as well as Mycenae's palace, administration and industries are discussed, along with the few – yet highly informative – Linear B documents. The modern rediscovery of Mycenae by the western world is set alongside Schliemann's methods and practices and the impact his work had on modern scholarship, especially with regard to understanding Greece's Bronze Age past.

With the Faculty of Classics holding the Mycenae Excavations Archive ( and remarkable collections of Mycenaean potsherds, one of the lectures focuses specifically on objects and archives and how best we can use them for better understanding ancient societies.

Preliminary reading: E. French, Mycenae. Agamemnon's Capital (Stroud, 2002); Gere, C. The Tomb of Agamemnon: Mycenae and the Search for a Hero (London, 2006); Wardle, K.A. and D. Wardle, Cities of Legend. The Mycenaean World (Bristol, 2001 repr.); C. Shelmerdine, The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age (Cambridge, 2008).

There is also a well-illustrated, introductory, online catalogue free to browse and/or download as a .pdf:



(8 L: Lent)

The study of Roman Britain is based on a combination of textual and material sources. Part of the challenge lies in understanding the relationship between the different sources and appreciating the historical traditions of scholarship which have moulded current interpretations. These issues will be explored through a series of case studies which attempt to cut across some of the conventional boundaries. The course will provide a review of current work on Roman Britain, introducing the history and archaeology of the province, and exploring current debates. Through this the course aims to introduce students to the critical use of archaeological evidence and to explore the relationship between textual and material sources.

The course will comprise eight one-hour lectures:

• Studying Roman Britain

• Invaders and Invaded

• Milites

• Urban living

• Rural existence

• Economic exploitation

• Material displays

• Endings


Introductory bibliography:

R. Jackson 2020 The Roman occupation of Britain and its legacy, Bloomsbury

D. Mattingly 2006 An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, Penguin

M. Millett, L. Revell and A. Moore (eds) 2016 The Oxford Handbook of Roman Britain, OUP

R. Hingley 2000  Roman officers and English gentlemen, Routledge



(8 L: Easter)

It was only really in the late nineteenth century with the growing popularity of something like the Parthenon sculptures that fifth-century Athenian production began to dictate the pace. In contrast, the sculptures that most influenced Renaissance artists (the Laocoon, Belvedere Torso, Dying Gaul) were ‘Hellenistic’ in style, conceived in a world without democracy. This course puts their bodies under the microscope, asking how they differ from the production of Phidias, Polyclitus and their contemporaries, in bulk, beauty, politics, relationship to text, and relationship to the viewer. It will examine their function in the Greek world and their appeal in Rome. In studying form and function, it will think both about specific issues such as divinity and mortality, gender, and patronage, and about specific places such as Halicarnassus, Pergamum, Delos, and Sperlonga.

Preliminary reading: Picón, Carlos (2016) Pergamum and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World, New Haven and London; Stewart, Andrew (2014) Art in the Hellenistic World, Cambridge; Daehner, Jens, M. (2015) Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World, Los Angeles; Pollitt, Jerome J. (1986) Art in the Hellenistic Age, Cambridge; Smith, Bert (1991) Hellenistic Sculpture: a Handbook, London; Burn, Lucilla (2004) Hellenistic Art: From Alexander the Great to Augustus, London.

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