The second millennium BC saw the emergence in the Aegean of the complex, palatial societies of Minoan Crete, their increasing relations with the rest of the Aegean world and with the wider eastern Mediterranean. Around the middle of the second millennium similar societies appeared on the Greek mainland and they too expanded their relations within and beyond the Aegean so that by the 13th century BC the Aegean was linked in to long-distance networks that extended from Sardinia to Egypt. By 1100 BC, the region had experienced a series of destructions that ushered in a period of political collapse shared with much of the eastern Mediterranean. This course explores the complex societies of Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece and their material culture, their relationships with each other and with the wider Mediterranean world and their collapse.
The period between the collapse of the Bronze Age civilisations of Crete and mainland Greece and the society based on city states ('poleis') which emerges from the earliest Greek historical sources is a complex one. It has traditionally been thought of as a Dark Age, but new evidence shows that contacts and achievements were many. The sources are almost exclusively archaeological and, although they show major changes in society and settlement organisation, they also reveal continuity and regional diversity in response to the Mycenaean collapse. The eighth century saw the most profound changes, including the emergence of more elaborate settlements, more impressive sanctuaries with richer dedications, new contacts with the eastern and western Mediterranean, and the re-appearance of writing. Among the subjects covered are: explaining the Bronze Age collapse, Early Iron Age population movements, developments in metallurgy, continuity and change in ceramic and other styles of material culture, early sanctuaries, settlements and their organisation, colonisation, and the birth of the 'polis'.
The eighth century saw the emergence of many of the fundamental aspects of later Greek culture - substantial settlements, impressive sanctuaries with a wide range of dedications, the re-emergence of writing, and the development of lasting settlements around much of the Mediterranean coastal region. But it was in the seventh and sixth centuries that the monumental arts of sculpture and architecture re-appeared, and the production of figure-decorated pottery developed, especially in Corinth and Athens. This course therefore covers the formative stages of the aspects for which ancient Greece is most famous. It looks at a range of artefact types from the huge temples to tiny gems and relates these to each other and to the history and culture of the period.
The main categories of buildings, monuments, and images most characteristic of ancient city life were developed in the fifth and fourth centuries BC. The course studies a full range of material of the period, from city plans and temples to statues, reliefs, and painted pottery. Emphasis is placed on their study in their archaeological and historical contexts, and questions and themes concern the relation of new forms of public building and representation to changing historical circumstances. The fifth century BC made a decisive break with the visual modes of the archaic aristocracy, and an area of special investigation within the course is the swift emergence and consolidation of this revolutionary way of seeing and representing that we know as 'classical art'. The wide deployment and modulation of this new mode of representation by Mediterranean neighbours is also examined in the context of monuments from, for example, Lycia and Phoenicia.
The horizons of the Greek world were hugely expanded by Alexander's conquests. A vast new area was opened to Macedonian and Greek settlements, from western Anatolia to north-western India, and a new kind of charismatic kingship was introduced to the Mediterranean world. The course studies the material and visual culture of this dynamic period through its most important sites and its most characteristic buildings, monuments, and images. Particular attention is paid to the following: to recent discoveries at Vergina and Pella, where the excavated houses, tombs, silverware, and wall paintings have revolutionized our understanding of the early Hellenistic period; to Attalid Pergamon, the best preserved royal capital; to Athens and Priene, as two different examples of traditional city states; and to the well documented example of Egyptian and Greek interaction in Ptolemaic Alexandria and Egypt. Other important subjects include: the Hellenistic royal image on coins and in statues; colonial settlement, such as that at Ai Khanoum in north-east Afghanistan; changes in honorific and funerary representation; the invention of new kinds of visual narrative, allegory, and landscape. The course also looks at late Hellenistic Delos and the mass export of Hellenistic material culture to the cities of Campania and Rome in the late second and first centuries BC.
During the period 200-30 B.C. Rome progressively established itself as ruler of the Mediterranean world, ultimately absorbing the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Greek east. The archaeology of this period shows an increasing Hellenisation of Roman life, and at the same time the emergence of a distinct Roman cultural identity through the fusion of Greek and Italic models. This course covers the architecture, art and material expression of Roman culture and settlement in the late Republican period 200-30 B.C., including (but not limited to) such topics as portrait sculpture; wall painting and mosaic art; architecture; Republican temple sanctuaries; the development of Roman urbanism in Italy and the provinces, and of the city of Rome.
Octavian's victory at Actium brought and end to civil war and ushered in a period of relative stability around the Mediterranean under the Principate. The extension of Roman hegemony to the entire Mediterranean, and wars of conquest in north-west Europe, brought a vast area under Roman control and enabled the state to exploit resources on an unprecedented scale. The foundation of many new colonies exported a model of Roman urbanism around the western Mediterranean and into northern Europe, and lavish building projects were embarked on at Rome and in the provinces. Growing wealth fuelled growing consumption, and the material record shows the rapid spread both of Italian and of eastern fashions and motifs, and the emulation of elite tastes right down the social scale. This course examines the material culture, architecture, art and settlement of the Roman world both in Italy and in the provinces, from Augustus to Hadrian. Topics include (but are not limited to) colonisation, imperial relief sculpture, portraiture, public and private architecture, wallpainting, mosaics, minor arts (gems and coins), and pottery.
The period from the Flavians to the mid third century saw both the apogee of the Roman empire's prosperity and volume of architectural and artistic output, and major social and political changes that also affected art and architecture during the turbulent events of the third century. This course examines the art, architecture and material expression of Roman culture and settlement of the period, tracking development and change over time in Rome and the provinces. Topics include imperial and private portrait sculpture, monumental reliefs, funerary art, mosaics, wallpainting, public and private architecture, coins, gems, pottery and the distribution of artefacts.
The subject covers the period extending from the reign of Diocletian to the Arab conquest of the Levant, during which the western Roman Empire fell and the eastern Empire under Constantinople (founded 324) experienced expansion. The recognition of a new religion near the beginning of the period had an impact on urban development, architecture and art. Study of the period will concentrate on the interaction of the old order and the new, looking at changes to the city of Rome and subsequent imperial capitals, at the architectural form of major monuments both secular and religious, and at the persistence of pagan art coinciding with the introduction of Christian iconography. Other topics to consider, some relating to the economy of the period, include patterns of trade; the exploitation of the countryside in the east; the expansion of pilgrimage to the Holy Land and its influence on Christian art; advances in book illustration; and the role of large- and small-scale sculpture.
The period studied extends from the onset of the Dark Age to the Ottoman conquest. It will be viewed in terms of economic revival beginning in the 9th century followed by successive dynasties, each with its distinctive material culture: the Macedonian, the Comnenian and, after the interruption caused by the Latin occupation in the 13th, the Palaeologan. The cities of Constantinople and Corinth provide the basis for an understanding of medieval urban life throughout the period. Consideration of the Macedonian Renaissance focuses on the monumental use of spolia and the superior illuminated manuscripts and minor arts associated with its revival of learning. Evidence for the Comnenian period is offered by large monastic foundations of lavish embellishment, and a coherent system of wall-painting found in churches throughout the empire. The Palaeologan period is seen in terms of its dwindling political and economic power combined with a final flourishing of major mosaic works at Constantinople and Thessalonike. A diachronic study of pottery traces corresponding changes throughout the period.