MPhil in Archaeology - structure and subject lists

The MPhil in Archaeology adds a further option and student-led research project onto the MSt year. It is ideal if you are thinking of carrying on to doctoral research and wish to acquire higher levels of research skills and/or complete a medium-sized individual research project before embarking on doctoral study. Flexibility is built into the degree to allow you to create your own unique courses that reflect your chosen area of study.  

The structure of the degree comprises the subjects as set out in the following table and details of each subject can be found in the the tabs at the bottom of the page.

M.Phil. Archaeology

Subject lists

Core subjects are usually taught in MT and will present you with a general overview of that topic.   These are listed in the Exam Regulations as Schedule A courses and will be assessed at the end of Trinity Term by unseen written exam.  More details of each subject including availability for the coming year(s) can be found below.

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maritime

Maritime societies have become a major research interest in archaeology, as the terrestrial bias of much traditional archaeological research has gradually been recognised. This paper will provide an overview of key theoretical and conceptual issues relevant to maritime archaeology, and in particular the study of coastal, island and other maritime societies. It will explore a broad range of social, cultural, technological and environmental issues relating to human ancient coastal and island occupation and seafaring, including ethnographic aspects of maritime societies, social aspects of seafaring and voyaging, developments in maritime technology, and the ecology of island colonisation. The paper will stress archaeological perspectives on maritime societies, but will also draw upon anthropological, palaeoenvironmental, documentary, and other sources of information to offer a holistic approach. In covering this range of themes, the paper will address maritime societies and seafaring through time, from the earliest records of coastal subsistence and movement across the sea through to maritime activities documented in textual sources.

Course co-ordinator: Dr Damian Robinson

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One of the most vital areas within archaeology over the last forty years has been the debate concerning method and theory. Archaeological theory has shifted from the attempts to generalise about human life developed by the New or Processual archaeologists from the 1960s onwards. In the late 1970s there was a reaction against grand theory and a greater concentration on local prehistoric sequences and the fine details of people's lives by the so-called post-processualists. Today there is a huge range of archaeological theories in use, focussing on issues of identity, gender, mind, material culture, art and aethetics, as well as the more traditional questions of technology and subsistence. Archaeology has drawn on a huge range of theory from outside the discipline, ranging from evolutionary and ecological theories, post-modernist and post-colonial theories, feminist and gendered perspectives and theories of history and change. How relevant any or all of these theories are to archaeological subject matters and problems is debatable, but these are subjects that need debating if we are to decide the most profitable and productive directions for archaeology. Recently, archaeological method has become a source of intense debate, looking at how social and intellectual factors influence the ways in which archaeological sites are excavated and interpreted. Excavation and analysis are not purely technical matters, but have great influence on how we create our basic forms of evidence and make sense of them.

Coordinators: Prof Chris Gosden and Prof Dan Hicks

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The tendency, even today, to refer to high quality translucent white wares as china harks back to a period where this rarefied material was only obtainable from the East. Yet, the production of Chinese porcelain, with all its global impact, is only one late episode in a complex social relationship between humans and clay that stretches back almost 20,000 years. This course focusses on the emergence and development of ceramics in prehistoric and historic China, providing both general training in ceramic analysis and the specific context needed by students wishing to specialize in the study of Eastern Asia. From the first modern archaeological excavations in China which uncovered remarkable prehistoric assemblages of elaborately painted earthenware?to long-standing research on Imperial kiln sites and the recent discovery of the earliest pottery in the world, archaeological ceramics research has played an important part in uncovering China's past. Traditional archaeological approaches will, therefore, form the foundations of the course. However, students will also be shown how archaeological interpretations of pottery in the past can be shaped within frameworks drawn from ethnographic, ethnoarchaeological, and historical research. In addition, by connecting Archaeological Materials component of the MSt course, students will be given a general introduction to suitable techniques for the analysis of both high- and low-fired ceramics. The course will introduce China?s early relationship ceramics and consider how geography and climate help us to contextualize early finds and understand the character of later production. Focusing on concrete examples from the Chinese Neolithic to the Qing Dynasty, the course will show how ceramics can help us to explore innovation, specialization and centralization in production, to both define and transgress the boundaries of cultural units, and to investigate the character of long-distance exchange. The course is taught by several specialists, including a practicing potter, who will provide students with insight and perspective into a wide range of research theories and methodologies. Within this framework, the students will have the opportunity to develop a framework for a research project of their own that may lead to a MSt/MPhil dissertation or a DPhil thesis.

Coordinator: Dr Anke Hein

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Archaeobotany is the study of plant remains from archaeological sites

This module explores in detail the role of environmental archaeology in the understanding of past human societies. Recovery of evidence of organic remains and their soil matrix is nowadays a key part of archaeological investigation. Critical evaluation of the possibilities and limitations of this evidence is required for the subject to play its full role in the analysis and interpretation of human activity in relationship to the environment. Focus is given to both the methods used to study past human and natural environments and the theoretical framework that interpretation requires. Teaching is based around lectures which consider particular lines of evidence which are then demonstrated in practical classes. Classes and tutorials are used to develop themes which cut across or link the lines of evidence and to provide a theoretical basis for the subject.

Coordinator: Dr. Michael Charles

palaeolithic

This course surveys the dramatic social changes that emerged from the end of the last Ice Age to the end of the second millennium BC in Europe, including the agricultural transition, the spread of monuments and metallurgy, and the emergence of remarkably stable 'egalitarian' social systems alongside intermittent developments of lasting social inequality. This course is suitable for students without prior advanced training in later European prehistory.

Coordinators: Dr Rick Schulting and Prof. Amy Bogaard

historical

This course considers the development of European societies as reflected in their material cultures from the demise of the Western Empire to the Viking Age. It offers an overview of a wide geographical region during some 500 years; although the emphasis is on western and northern Europe, including Britain, consideration is also given to central and eastern Europe and in particular the impact of nomadic peoples on these regions. The main components of the course examine the interaction between the late Roman world and 'barbarians'; the role of material culture in the construction of post-Roman identities; mortuary ritual and votive deposition; the emergence of kingship; rural settlements and their economies; the rise of towns; and the archaeology associated with the conversion to Christianity.

Coordinator: Prof Helena Hamerow

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This course provides and overview of the key issues in landscape archaeology, highlighting the role of spatial technology in the management and interpretation of the archaeological landscape. It will be delivered through a series of seminars and practical classes which outline the theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches which have furthered our understanding of the development of the cultural and physical landscape. Seminars will explore a wide range of topics, including the tensions between the formal economic models central to spatial archaeology and the discourse on space and place characteristic of more recent humanistic approaches to the landscape. Practical classes will include working with spatial data, archaeological prospection, modelling artefact distributions and analytical GIS.

Coordinator: Dr Rick Schulting

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This course will focus on issues of long term change and continuity in Europe between the late Bronze Age and the Roman periods. We will focus on the changing relationships between people and material culture, settlement and landscape, together with the issues of identity they raise. As well as considering issues of both continuity and change, we will look at the nature of connections across Europe including those running east west as well as between the Mediterranean and Europe north of the Alps. We will also explore new approaches to material culture and to the manner in which time and space can be categorised and understood in Europe at the end of prehistory. The course will have a basic chronological structure, ending with considerations of the coming of the Roman Empire and issues of so-called 'Romanization'.

Coordinator: Prof Chris Gosden

Option subjects are courses that enable students to develop deeper understanding of a particular field of research in a tutor-led, group setting.   Schedule B options from the M.St. in Archaeology are listed below however students are also able to choose a subject from Archaeological Science Degree (listed under Schedule C) or a sub-set of subjects from the Classical Archaeology Degree (listed under Schedule D).  It is strongly recommended that students take their option subject in Hilary Term wherever possible to avoid overload with their first term where they will be studying their Core subject.  Some subjects however, e.g. the Archaeological Science options or Archaeology of Eurasia are taught across two terms. 

Not all subjects are available every year.  

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Colonialism has been the dominant element of world history for the last five hundred years and an important aspect of world history for the last 5000 years. Archaeology has much light to throw on colonial forms past and present, complementing written accounts and oral histories. A comparative approach to colonial past and present is taken, drawing on perspectives from post-colonial theory, anthropology, world-systems theory as well as archaeology. Material culture from archaeological sites is an important source for the study of colonialism, but so too are museum collections and archival materials. Through its concentration on the material aspects of human existence archaeology has a unique perspective complementing those drawn from many elements of post-colonial theory which do not consider the material world in any great detail. Case studies which can be considered range from early Mesopotamia, Greek settlements, the Roman Empire, the Incas and Aztecs and colonialism post-1492.

Course co-ordinators: Prof. Chris Gosden and Prof. Dan Hicks

The forests, grasslands, and deserts of Eurasia create an almost continuous ecological corridor across the northern half of the continent, bridging an apparent divide between East and West. Understanding the patterns of social connectivity, mobility, and human-environment interaction in this vital interstitial zone is currently a major focus of interdisciplinary research. Addressing itself to students of China, Western Europe, and the Classical World who are seeking to contextualize their research foci, this course introduces the archaeology of northern Eurasia from the beginning of the Holocene to the rise of the first nomadic empires. It explores transformation of Eurasian societies, the transmission of technologies and ideas, and the challenge of analytical scales which can make the archaeology of Eurasia appear simultaneously homogeneous and highly variable. The lecture part of this course is geared to graduate and undergraduate students alike, providing them with a general overview of the major archaeological phenomena in this region from the early 3rd to the late 1stmillennium BCE. Additionally, the tutorials provide an opportunity for graduate students to discuss case studies and develop a greater awareness of the methodological problems of defining identity groups, investigating cultural contact and human movement in the archaeological record, and assessing the relationships between humans and their natural environment.

Coordinator: Dr Anke Hein

This course covers roughly the period from 450-750 and examines current debates in several areas of the subject, including migration theory and the nature of post-Roman Britain; death and burial; the links between material culture and identity; settlements and settlement patterns.

Coordinator: Prof Helena Hamerow

This course, which covers the period roughly from 750-1050, considers key areas of Late Saxon studies to which archaeology has made particular contribution, namely: the development of towns and the economic basis of kingdoms; the nature of the Scandinavian presence in Danelaw; the way in which the art and the architecture of the 10th century reflect cultural contacts as well as political and religious developments; the origins of castles and of the manor; the development of trade and industry. Students will become familiar with specific case-studies as well as current academic debates.

Coordinator: Prof Helena Hamerow

This course provides a practical introduction to the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in archaeology. Since it's adoption in the late 1980s, GIS has become an essential part of the archaeological tool kit and has revolutionised the way in which archaeologists manage spatial data and think about spatial relationships. Whilst the use of GIS has been widely criticised for encouraging retrogressive positive approaches, the potential of GIS for enabling a 'humanised' approach to the archaeological landscape was recognised early in the adoption process. Seminars and practical classes will highlight the principal trends in GIS-based archaeology, from early applications grounded in formal models and economic theory, including Site Catchment Analysis and Thiessen Polygons, to more recent humanistic approaches based on modelling movement and visibility, including viewshed analysis and Least Cost Pathways. The analytical potential of GIS will be explored within the broader context of spatial archaeology, highlighting the methodological and theoretical implications of GIS-based approaches with reference to key case studies. Practical classes will be based on the topics covered in the seminars and will provide hands on training in the use of ArcGIS and ancillary software including SPSS and Landserf.

Coordinator: Dr Rick Schulting

This paper examines the historical development of the study of material culture in archaeology since the late 19th century, and introduces current debates. It traces the changing status of the study of objects from antiquarianism through the 20th century in culture-historical archaeology, processual and post-processual archaeologies, and in the present. The paper addresses key themes in the archaeological study of material culture, including materiality, museums, technology, aesthetics, material agency, heritage, the built environment, landscapes, consumption and historical change. It introduces contemporary relationships between archaeology and allied disciplines in the study of materiality: including anthropological material culture studies, Science and Technology Studies (STS), Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and non-representational theory. Through two extended essays, students draw upon these theoretical approaches to explore a particular body of material culture of their chosing. The textbook for the paper is The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies (Dan Hicks and Mary Beaudry, eds, Oxford University Press 2010).

Coordinator: Prof Dan Hicks

Southern Africa has not only produced some of the oldest fossils of anatomically modern humans, but also has one of the richest and arguably best understood rock art traditions in the world. In addition, anthropological research here has made a significant contribution to both the development of general models of hunter-gatherer economic and social organization and, more recently, to their ongoing critique. This course provides a broad overview of some of the main recent developments in the archaeology of southern Africa's hunter-gatherers. The overall treatment is chronological, from the first anatomically modern humans at Klasies River Mouth to the impact of the Namibian liberation war on Bushman communities in the Kalahari. Within this framework, the emphasis will be placed on changing paradigms in the explanation of the Middle and Later Stone Age past and on the relationship between archaeological and anthropological data in understanding social and economic change. The relations between hunter-gatherers and the pastoralist, farming and settler societies with whom they have increasingly shared the southern African landscape over the past 2000 years form another major theme. The extensive southern African collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum are available for the teaching of this course, all the literature for which is in English.

Coordinator: Prof Peter Mitchell

Body and Adornment: material culture of later medieval Britain, c. AD1100-1600 This course investigates the material culture of mainland Britain, focussing on objects that were worn and adorned clothing during the period AD1100- 1600. Using archaeological material, and other sources of evidence, the course will examine how these artefacts were used in the daily lives of people, and how their context of use was affected by major social events, such as the Black Death and the Reformation. Themes covered will include the history of artefact studies, sexuality, devotion, magic, death and burial. Although the emphasis is on Britain, evidence and material from mainland Europe will be included to place the topics within their wider contexts. A multidisciplinary approach will be taken to understand the themes fully, drawing predominantly on archaeological evidence, but also using material from history, art history, anthropology and related disciplines. Material from the Ashmolean Museum's medieval collections will be made use of to allow the students to identify, handle and interpret archaeological material culture. How medieval material evidence is collected and disseminated will also be investigated, highlighting the importance of grey literature and electronic resources, such as the Portable Antiquities Scheme database.

Coordinator: Dr Eleanor Standley

The course investigates the economic and other interaction of the city and the countryside during late antiquity, using evidence from field survey, excavation and written sources. Examination of urban life at Rome, Constantinople and major provincial cities in the western and eastern empires focuses on their varying roles as administrative and economic centres and on evidence of prosperity given by sustained building activity. Trade, particularly in the case of port cities, is considered on a local and an inter-regional basis, and as providing links to the countryside. The countryside, in turn, is viewed with regard to land tenure (with reference to Egyptian documents) and farming. Industrial activity is examined in city and countryside alike and sources of raw materials traced. Evidence for long-distance trade with northern Europe and the Far East is assessed, and the evident productivity of the eastern Empire is reviewed within the context of the future Arab conquest in the 630's.

Coordinator: Dr Ine Jacobs

Despite the extensive research conducted there over the last three decades, the archaeology of sub-Saharan Africa is still largely unknown to most western audiences. This course focuses on two key processes in world prehistory over the last 10,000 years: the development and spread of systems of food-production and the formation of state societies. These processes are examined using data from several regions of Africa south of the Sahara in order to illustrate the diversity of the African experience. In addition to this comparative focus, particular themes examined will include the relevance of oral tradition and linguistics to reconstructions of prehistory, the symbolic role of metallurgy in many African societies and the extent to which influences from outside Africa were of importance to the continent's development. Potential students should note that it is also possible within this option to concentrate specifically on the archaeology of farming societies and early states in southern Africa. This provides a more tightly focused complement to Archaeology of Southern African hunter-gatherers, but both courses can be taken independently of the other. All the basic reading for this option is in English, though some knowledge of French is necessary for those wishing to investigate original papers on some aspects of West and Central African prehistory.

Coordinator: Prof Peter Mitchell

Humans, it has been famously said, have depended on the exploitation of wild plant and animal resources for more than 99 % of their evolution. But hunter-gatherers are defined by more than how they obtain food. This course examines diversity in the organization of hunter-gatherer societies using examples from both the archaeological and anthropological records. Particular themes include mobility and land use patterns, the organization of technology, diet, exchange, gender relations and similarities and contrasts between egalitarian and non-egalitarian hunter-gatherers. In addition, the range of theoretical perspectives from which hunter-gatherer societies have been explored will also be considered. Prominent here are social evolution, middle range theory, optimal foraging, Marxist and structural-Marxist perspectives and neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. Opportunities also exist for making use of the rich archaeological and anthropological collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum in teaching this course.

Coordinator: Prof Peter Mitchell

The course examines the historical development of seafaring within the communities of the Mediterranean basin and their near neighbours. The tutorials and associated lectures will identify the main trends in the technological development of both military and merchant naval architecture both at sea and on land. They will also examine the changing attitudes of Mediterranean communities through the development of larger political units and increasing international trade and exchange. The nature of the archaeological, textual and iconographic evidence will be discussed in order to understand issues such as the lack of warships in the archaeological record and the apparent collapse of trade after the 2nd century AD as seen by the evidence of wrecked merchant ships.

Coordinator: Dr Damian Robinson

The purpose of the course is to provide an up-to-date overview of the current methods and techniques in maritime archaeology and its allied sub-disciplines of maritime history and anthropology. It will also highlight the importance of contemporary issues in maritime archaeology such as the requirement for a robust legislative framework for the management and protection of submerged sites, the problems with treasure hunting and the necessity to document the fast disappearing traditional lifeways of maritime communities. There are no temporal or geographical limits upon the examples of best and worst practise that will be used in this course.

Coordinator: Dr Damian Robinson

A study of the earliest arrival of humans in Europe more than a million years ago, and subsequent developments during the Pleistocene and the earlier Holocene (to 4000 BC). Archaeological evidence is used to explore the behavioural responses of archaic and modern humans to climatic and environmental change, and to trace technological, social, economic and cognitive development. Direct study of artefacts supplements the written sources.

Coordinator: Prof Nick Barton

This course covers the Palaeolithic period in outline on a world-wide scale, but encourages the development of students' particular interests by treating in greater detail a selection of the most important current themes. Examples of these include: the origins of humans in sub-Saharan Africa; their first spread to other areas of the Old World; the subsequent dispersal of physically 'modern' humans; the technological, social and cognitive developments which characterize the Upper Palaeolithic; and the responses of humans in different regions to the major environmental changes brought about by the rapid ending of the Last Glaciation. Teaching, by lectures, classes and tutorials, is spread over all three terms. The direct study of actual archaeological material is an important supplement to the literature as a source of learning, right through the year.

Coordinator: Prof Nick Barton

Many current debates in archaeology, ranging from the origins of agriculture to the rise and collapse of urban centres and empires, rely on ideas concerning the production and consumption of plants. This paper introduces the theory and methodology that underpin the analysis of macroscopic plant remains from archaeological deposits. Core topics include the identification of charred and waterlogged plant remains, issues of preservation and recovery, analytical approaches to the interpretation of archaeobotanical data and presentation of results. The practical component of the paper consists of eight laboratory-based classes (2-3 hours each) and covers the key stages of archaeobotanical investigation, from on-site recovery to sample sorting, identification, quantification and data analysis. The tutorial component (five sessions) focuses on principles underlying analytical techniques and broader issues of interpretation.

Coordinators: Prof. Amy Bogaard and Dr. Michael Charles

The course involves in-depth study of selected, specific topics in Aegean Prehistory. It is not a general overview of Aegean Bronze Age, but asks students for detailed treatment of specific issues lying in three main areas: application of theory and method to specific problems; study of an individual site or class of sites; study of an individual artefact or class of artefacts.

Coordinator: Dr Lisa Bendall

Students may choose a subject from the Archaeological Science Degree (listed under Schedule C) as listed below as one of their option subjects.   It should be noted that Archaeological Science options are taught across MT and HT terms which needs to be balanced carefully with other work you are undertaking in MT for your Core subject (Schedule A).

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We need to be able to put past events onto a timescale if we are to understand them properly. Scientific dating allows us to explore the relationship between different sites and regions. Furthermore, chronologies built up from dating and other evidence enable us to understand processes at work in the archaeological record. This course looks at the scientific dating methods most commonly applied, including the practical aspects of radiocarbon, luminescence, tephrochronology and dendrochronology. It also provides an introduction to the use of statistical methods for combination of information from direct dating and other archaeological information. There is a strong emphasis on the critical evaluation of dating evidence.

Coordinator: Prof Christopher Ramsey

Scientific methods are playing an increasingly important role in archaeological research, and this is particularly true of organic materials. Developments in the analysis of stable isotopes, lipid residues, trace elements and ancient DNA are providing new lines of evidence for a host of central questions, including past subsistence and environmental change, migration and genetic origins. This course provides a detailed, critical overview of these topics, both in terms of the techniques themselves, and their archaeological applications. More traditional bioarchaeological analysis of human, faunal, and plant remains also feature. The course includes a strong practical component, with a series of laboratory-based practicals. It makes use of the ongoing research of both members of staff and research students to present the latest approaches.

Coordinator: Dr Rick Schulting

Scientific analysis of archaeological materials can uncover networks of exchange, reconstruct technological processes, and identify cultural choices and behaviours that are otherwise inaccessible to the archaeologist. This course provides students with a strong understanding of the potential uses and limitations of these methods, with an emphasis on how they help address questions about the human past. Lectures in the first part of the course will focus on methodological approaches to analysing common archaeological materials, covering the fundamentals of material structure, raw materials, and production processes. The second part of the course is organized in discussion-based seminars that centre on key archaeological themes, such as craft production, innovation, and culture contact. These seminars cover both the theoretical approaches to these issues and the ways that materials science can contribute to these discussions. Weekly practicals include both hands-on experimental archaeology sessions and lab-based exercises aimed at introducing various methods of materials analysis. These sessions help students think about how ancient people transformed and manipulated materials, and how those behaviours are translated to the archaeological record.

Coordinator: Dr Nathaniel Erb-Satullo

Students may choose a subject from the Classical Archaeology Degree (Schedule D) as listed below as one of their option subjects.   It should be noted that Classical Archaeology options are taught either in MT or HT terms which will need to be balanced carefully with other work you are undertaking in MT for your Core subject (Schedule A).  It is recommended that you take a subject running in a different term to that in which your Schedule A subject is taught.

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With the collapse of the palatial system around 1200 BC, Aegean communities needed to adopt new social-economic structures to survive the crisis. The ones which achieved the fastest adjustment were also those which continued to be in contact with communities in the Eastern Mediterranean. The course examines the nature of their exchange with the East, both during the Late Helladic IIIC period and the Early Iron Age. It scrutinizes evidence of such exchanges, providing the essential background for understanding the period which led to the so-called 'Orientalizing revolution'. Study cases include: the revival of communication in the Late Helladic IIIC middle; Euboean enterprise in the East; Cyprus and the Aegean in the eleventh and tenth centuries BCE; Phoenicians and North Syrians in the Aegean; patterns of exchange, from gift-exchange to trade networks.

Course co-ordinator: Professor Irene Lemos

Writing is often seen as a fundamental characteristic of 'civilisation'. When Arthur Evans discovered clay documents at Knossos on Crete, the prehistoric societies of the Aegean joined their western Asian counterparts as 'truly civilised'. This course offers an introduction to the writing and administrative systems used in the Aegean in the second millennium BC, with an emphasis on the Linear B script of Crete and mainland Greece. Major topics include: a cross-cultural examination of the uses of writing and administration; the predecessors to Linear B in the Aegean (Cretan Hieroglyphic and Linear A); the discovery of Linear B and its decipherment; the nature of the Linear B script, its history and pattern of use; what Linear B can tell us about the internal organisation of the major Mycenaean palaces (Pylos and Knossos); what Linear B can tell us about their external organisation; other scripts in use in the Mediterranean. There will also be a practical class using the Linear A and B materials in the Ashmolean Museum.

Course co-ordinator: Dr Lisa Bendall

Although in the fringe of the Greek poleis, Macedonia figures prominently in Greek affairs from the late 6th century BC (during the period of Persian control of the region), because of its resources (timber, gold and silver mines) and its position along trade routes. From the 4th century BC and especially during the reigns of Archelaos and Philip II, it becomes a region fully involved in Greek culture and in the Hellenistic period it was one of the major kingdoms in the Aegean. Following the discovery of the royal burial mound at Vergina, ancient Aigeai, in 1978, there has been a drastic increase in the archaeological exploration of Macedonia and in publications about the history, epigraphy, archaeology and art of the region. Many new sites have been investigated both in the heartland of Macedonia, west of Axios, and in the territories that were annexed by Philip II (Aigeai, Pella, Dion, Veroia, Pydna, Aiani, Thessaloniki, Amphipolis, Philippi, Demetrias in Thessaly and smaller centres, such as Petres). The very rich body of archaeological material from the region gives insight into domestic architecture, the emergence of palatial architecture and administration (palaces at Pella, Aigeai and Demetrias), civic life, funerary iconography and architecture, minor arts (gold jewellery, glass manufacture, terracottas), economic activity, local cults and the representation and self-promotion of Macedonian kings within Macedonia and in the Greek world. In many cases it is also possible to trace developments to the 6th and 5th centuries BC, when Temenid control of the heartland of Macedonia became tighter but also to comprehend the impact of Rome in the region, and the transformation of certain cities such as Veroia, Thessaloniki, Dion into vibrant economic centres in the Late Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The aim of the option will be: a) to examine the material culture of the region from roughly the 6th century BC to the late 2nd c BC and compare it with that of other Greek regions; b) to identify, when possible, what are, local, Macedonian, features in the material record.

Themes that can be explored in depth include: Macedonian cities; funerary archaeology; religion and cult; economic activity; art in Macedonia; Demetrias as a Macedonian city.

Course co-ordinator: Dr Maria Stamatopoulou

This course will focus on the topography and archaeology of Athens and Attica, from the 6th century BC, the period when Athens began dominating international markets to the aftermath of Sulla's destruction. Athens is the single best documented ancient Greek polis: the rich literary, archaeological, and epigraphic evidence allow us to examine the internal changes and the ways in which the city developed over time and negotiated its place in relation to other Greek communities, either as an imperial power in the 5th century BC or as part of the Hellenistic world. Themes that will be studied are: the topography of Athens and major demes such as Rhamnous, Aixonides Alai; the organization of civic space; cemeteries in the city and in the demes; defense systems for the city and the demes; economy and trade (silver mines; pottery production); administration (emphasis on the Athenian Agora); sanctuaries (Athenian acropolis; Rhamnous; Eleusis; Brauron; Sounion); art and iconography.

Coordinator: Dr Maria Stamatopoulou

This option will examine what archaeology can tell us about the life of women in the Greek world. The period covered is roughly from the 8th century BC to the end of the Hellenistic period. The close study of literary, archaeological, epigraphic evidence and the visual imagery regarding women will aim to appraise and occasionally challenge paradigms about women's life and position in ancient Greek society. Themes that will be explored are: the role of women in cult and festivals; women and burial; working women; the adornment of women; education of women; images of women in classical Athens (pottery, grave reliefs); Hellenistic statuary of women; terracottas.

Coordinator: Dr Maria Stamatopoulou

In exploring the development of towns and their related territories in the first three centuries AD, this course provides an introduction to Roman urbanism and the lively modern debate over how it worked and whom it served. The study of the physical design of the city, its public and private buildings, and its infrastructure, along with the objects of trade and manufacture, is placed in the broader context of the types and patterns of rural settlement, agricultural production, transport and communications. This allows various themes to be investigated, including what it meant to live in a Roman town, and in its countryside, and what contributed to the remarkable prosperity of urban centres before the widespread retrenchment of the third century. Those taking the course will become familiar with the physical character of Roman cities based on representative sites, and with major landscape studies in Italy, Greece and North Africa. Particular attention is paid to problems and biases in assessing the character of the physical evidence; and in testing theoretical models against hard data.

Coordinator: Prof. Andrew Wilson

The Greek polis began to emerge in the eighth century BC as settlements and populations became more concentrated, but the public buildings and sophisticated appearance we might associate with the idea of a city was slower to develop than the initial ideas about statehood. The course studies the material evidence relating to Greek cities from c. 750 to 50 BC, and analyses their physical evolution in relation to the changing conception of a polis. The aim is to relate the physical remains to the political, social and economic developments in ancient Greek societies, and to see how these developed in response to the continually changing historical context. Areas of emphasis will include the physical provision for political institutions, the development of sanctuaries, the choice and use of imagery for public display, domestic architecture and domestic life, and the defence of city and territory.

Coordinator: Prof Irene Lemos

According to some views of the ancient world, the Roman economy was stagnant and under-developed; according to others, the Roman empire saw economic activity on a scale unparalleled again until 16th-18th century Europe, with the mass-production of certain types of artefact, agricultural specialisation for export, and considerable amounts of long-distance trade. This course examines the contribution which archaeology can make to that debate, and where between these two extremes the truth might lie. Topics covered include: coinage and the metal supply; the economic impact of technological progress; agricultural specialisation and investment; the use of ceramic data to illuminate trading patterns; the interpretation of shipwreck evidence; the effect of ancient transport technologies on the distribution of goods; urban crafts and the involvement (or otherwise) of elites in non-agricultural activities.

Coordinator: Prof. Andrew Wilson

One of the most fascinating periods in the study of Early Greece is that which starts with the rejection of the palatial system and ends with the appearance of the city-states. The course examines the archaeological evidence from a number of sites (mostly cemeteries and settlements, with the addition of a few cult sites). Broad themes and trajectories in this period are studied through specific sites, such as Argos, Athens, Corinth, Knossos, Lefkandi, and Tiryns. The course also considers recent approaches to the period, with an emphasis on the archaeological study of regional societies and their political and social structures. The transformation of these early communities from their Late Bronze Age past is examined closely, highlighting aspects of continuity and discontinuity and elucidating survival or rejection of earlier social structures.

Coordinator: Prof Irene Lemos

The course covers the urban development of Constantinople from its foundation by Constantine in 324 until its fall to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Combined archaeological and written evidence forms the basis for study of utilitarian infrastructure (defence, water supply, commercial and harbour facilities, etc.), ceremonial/imperial architecture (palace, hippodrome, honorific monuments), and cult buildings. Key written texts to consult include the Notitia urbis Constantinopolitanae (ca. 425), the Miracles of St. Artemius (ca. 650), the Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai (8th c.), the Book of the Eparch (912) and the Book of Ceremonies (6th-10th c.). Material evidence is provided by surviving structures (circuit walls, cisterns, churches, etc.), and excavated sites (Great Palace, Saraçhane, Zeuxippos Baths, etc.). Consideration will be given to the character of the city during its initial period of expansion (4th-6th c.) and in the following periods of recession (8th c.) and economic recovery (from the 9th c.) until its fall to the Fourth Crusade (in 1204) and its final period (1261-1453).

Coordinator: Dr Ine Jacobs

Communities and individuals in the eastern Aegean area made outstanding contributions to literature, philosophy, and art in the Archaic period. This course studies the material and visual culture of early Ionia and the eastern Aegean. Recent archaeological work in major Ionian sites, such as Ephesos, Klazomenai, Miletus, Phocaea, and Samos, also provide the opportunity to study the development of urban space (public and domestic architecture), the growth of funeral display, and the emergence of sanctuaries.

Coordinator: Prof Irene Lemos

This course explores the development of Etruscan civilisation in the first millennium BC and its significance for understanding contemporary and later developments around the Mediterranean. Within a broadly chronological structure, subjects ranging from the rituals of daily life and death to the development of autonomous cities such as Veii, Tarquinia, and Caere are studied using a range of archaeological, artistic, scientific, historical, and linguistic evidence. Emphasis is placed upon close examination of sites and artefacts including, where practical, those held in local museums.

Coordinator: Dr Charlotte Potts

The study of Greek and Roman housing has attracted renewed scholarly interest in recent years, while new discoveries, new detailed publications of individual sites, and new approaches all provide material for a re-evaluation of the nature and functions of domestic space in the ancient world, and in particular its role in the formulation of social identities. This course will explore different approaches to reading domestic space in the Greco-Roman world, including issues of nomenclature and definition, spatial analysis, decorative systems, and artifact distribution, while questions of regional variation, and of the wider urban setting, will also be addressed. While the main focus will be on urban housing from a wide range of sites including Olynthus and Delos in the Greek world and Pompeii and Ostia in the Roman, it will also examine Hellenistic and Roman palaces, and Roman villas.

Coordinator: Dr Janet DeLaine

The new pictorialism of the classical period and later was deployed in the surviving media of tomb paintings, floor mosaics, and domestic wallpainting, as well as in the lost works described by ancient authors. The course studies the following major topics: the beginnings of Greek painting in the archaic period and its relation to ceramic art; fifth-century painting through the oblique evidence of painted pottery and ancient texts on big names such as Polygnotos and Zeuxis; the new evidence of tomb paintings from Macedonia and Thrace in the fourth and third centuries; the redeployment and manipulation of the Hellenistic repertoire in wallpainting and mosaic floors at Rome and Pompeii in the second and first centuries BC; and the use of the different wall systems and categories of painted subject to decorate and articulate domestic and reception spaces in Pompeian houses. The emphasis of the course is on the continuity between the Greek and Roman periods, on the invention and continuous reformulation of a common pictorial repertoire.

Coordinators: Dr Maria Stamatopoulou and Prof Bert Smith

The Greek Coinage option is open to anybody interested in learning about money and coinage in the Greek world - no experience with coins is needed. Through a series of lectures, tutorials, and coin-handling sessions, students will gain an overview of Greek coinage from the beginnings of electrum in the sixth century down to the period of Roman rule. The course will focus on how coins can be used as evidence for the study of classical archaeology and art, exploring themes such as how coins can be used to document patterns of trade, reflect developments in classical art, and provide examples of civic and personal iconography. The Coin Room of the Ashmolean Museum houses one of the finest collections of Greek coins in the world and is a key centre for the study of ancient coins. Students may gain experience of working with coins by participating in a range of volunteer projects based on the collection. The Coin Room also houses the numismatic section of the Sackler Library and maintains an extensive collection of plaster casts and auction catalogues.

Coordinators: Prof Chris Howgego

This course studies burial practices in the Greek world from the Archaic to the end of the Hellenistic periods. The principal themes that will be explored are the: methodology of mortuary archaeology; treatment of human remains; grave goods; marking; cemetery organization; commemoration of the dead; the question of the heroization of the dead in the post-classical poleis. Besides Athens, sites that can be studied in depth, are for: mainland Greece: Corinth, Boeotia (Tanagra, Thebes, Akraiphion), the Cyclades (Paros, Naxos, Thera, Delos), Rhodes, Thessaly (Krannon, Pharsalos, Demetrias), Macedonia (Aigai/Vergina, Pella, Aiani, Archontikon, Sindos, Amphipolis), Epirus (Ambrakia), Thasos as well as Taras, Metaponto, Syracuse, Acragas in the west; Pantikapaion on the Black Sea; Halikarnassos; Xanthos, the Troad in Asia Minor.

Coordinator: Dr Maria Stamatopoulou

Large statues and reliefs in stone and metal were among the most prominent public symbols in ancient Greek society, and surviving examples retain today a strong visual impact. Dramatic new discoveries, from excavation and shipwrecks, are constantly revising and sharpening our knowledge of this distinctive historical phenomenon. The course studies the sudden emergence of large marble statues in the archaic period, the revolutionary figures that embodied the new visual system that we know as 'classical' in the fifth and fourth centuries, and the major new categories of sculpture that were developed or invented in the third and second centuries -- such as honorific portraits, heroic groups, and genre statues. The course has an excellent resource in the Cast Gallery of the Ashmolean Museum, which contains a collection of some 600 plaster casts of Greek statuary and relief. Subjects include: archaic kouroi; the Siphnian treasury; the early classical revolution; the Olympia and Parthenon sculptures; athletic statuary; grave reliefs; early Hellenistic portraits; the Great Altar at Pergamon; Hellenistic genre; the Laocoon and Sperlonga groups.

Coordinators: Dr Maria Stamatopoulou and Prof Bert Smith

Painted vases give the fullest visual account of life and mythology in ancient Greece, and provide important archaeological data for refining and adding to knowledge of various aspects of ancient Greek culture. The course looks at the techniques and styles, from the eighth to the fourth century BC. The Ashmolean Museum has a fine collection of painted pottery of the period covered by the course, and examples from the collection are used in classes and lectures.

Coordinator: Dr Thomas Mannack

Macedonian kings and Roman emperors employed large painted narratives and grand marble relief pictures to publicise their deeds and exemplary virtues. These pictures were historical in the sense that they represented contemporary and recognisable figures engaged in real-looking actions -- rather than mythological heroes and events. The course studies first the early Hellenistic narratives of Macedonian royal power and charismatic conquest grouped around Alexander the Great. It then looks at the changing narrative priorities of republican dynasts and Roman emperors from Augustus to Theodosius I. The main themes and questions concern the different kinds of historical event chosen and the different ways repeated events and ceremonies are handled, according to context, audience, and changing ideas of royal and imperial power. Historical subjects for study include: Alexander battles; Augustan processions and sacrifice; Julio-Claudian dynastic succession; Flavian triumph; imperial peace and war on Trajanic monuments; imperial narratives in the provinces (Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Leptis); Antonine apotheosis; Constantinian re-cycling of earlier reliefs and themes; imperial ceremony and the sacred court of late antiquity.

Coordinator: Prof Bert Smith

The course follows the 'life' of four major types of objects from the end of antiquity to the present day - sculpture, engraved gems and cameos, coins, and painted pottery. Attention is focused on the discovery, collection, exhibition and scholarship of the objects, and special emphasis is given to the resources for their study in Oxford University's museums and archives.

Coordinator: Dr. Peter Stewart

This course provides an introduction to the countryside and landscapes of the Classical world, and to archaeological means of investigating them. The study of past landscapes employs a range of aerial and surface techniques, and involves consideration of processes of landscape change through environmental and human factors. A large proportion of the ancient population lived in the countryside, and processes of colonisation in both the Greek and Roman worlds had a considerable impact on the structuring of rural landscapes. In particular, Roman land allotment by centuriation divided up many areas in a manner sometimes still traceable through patterns of land tenure today. Greek and Roman large-scale drainage and land reclamation projects radically altered whole regions and brought new land under exploitation. Topics to be studied include: aerial photography; field survey; settlement patterns; centuriation and the organisation of landscapes; landscape changes - natural and human agency; deliberate transformations of nature; water management: irrigation, drainage and land reclamation.

Coordinator: Prof. Andrew Wilson

The course provides an overview of architectural development from the 4th to the14th century, covering buildings belonging to the secular and religious, public and private spheres. Individual types include urban honorific monuments, administrative buildings, baths, defensive installations, communal accommodation (barracks, inns, hospitals, monasteries), habitation, tombs, churches (basilical and centralized) and synagogues. Building and decorative materials are studied.

Coordinator: Dr Ine Jacobs

The course reviews the development of monumental art from the 4th through the 14th centuries, covering floor mosaics, wall and vault mosaics and wall painting. Aspects considered include the Hellenistic and Roman origins of this art, its close links with architectural form and function, the iconography featured, and the `export' of wall mosaics abroad in the 11th-13th centuries.

Coordinator: Dr Ine Jacobs

The course examines the historical development of seafaring communities. It will identify the main trends in the technological development of both military and merchant naval architecture both at sea and on land and examine the changing attitudes of Mediterranean peoples through the development of larger political units and increasing international trade and exchange. The nature of the archaeological, textual and iconographic evidence will be discussed in order to understand issues such as the lack of warships in the archaeological record and the apparent collapse of trade after the 2nd century AD as seen by the evidence of wrecked merchant ships.

The paper can also be used to provide an up-to-date overview of the current methods and theory in maritime archaeology and its allied sub-disciplines of maritime history and anthropology. Contemporary issues in maritime archaeology can also be studied, such as the requirement for a robust legislative framework for the management and protection of submerged sites and the problems with treasure hunting. This area of the course can also draw widely for its examples of best practise and may include case studies from the ancient world of the Mediterranean as well as the medieval and modern periods where appropriate.

Coordinator: Dr Damian Robinson

The gods and heroes of myth lived through their representations, and narratives recounting their deeds formed the subject matter of a large part of Greek and Roman art. While these narratives had their own momentum that can be studied independently in a 'vertical' manner, tracing how given narrative schemes evolved through time (the traditional pursuit of iconographic studies), there is also a strong 'horizontal' or contextual dimension to the subject. The course focuses on this latter aspect and studies how mythological narratives could be re-shaped for different media and contexts of use, how they could articulate contemporary concerns for a variety of local audiences. These contexts and concerns need to be studied too in order to understand the choice and handling of the mythological subjects represented. Drawing on different aspects of its often rich associations, the same mythological narrative might carry different meanings -- for example, in a private and in a public setting, in a tomb and in a temple. The course thus studies both the evolving repertoire of figure schemes and how myth functioned as a powerful refracting mirror -- that is, how its heroes could address contemporary matters but also retained their character and attraction as full-blooded independent beings. Greek and Roman engagement with myth is examined in the following contexts and media: painted symposium pots; temple sculpture; South Italian funerary pots; Lycian tombs; the Great Altar at Pergamon; domestic wallpainting in Rome and Pompeii; mythological sarcophagi; and mythological mosaics in late antiquity.

Coordinators: Prof Bert Smith and Dr Thomas Mannack

 

Pompeii and Ostia are the best-preserved and most extensively excavated cities in Roman Italy, as well as being the most extensively studied after Rome itself. The twist of fate which meant that Pompeii was destroyed just as Ostia was expanding in the later part of the first century AD has led to them being considered as representing two separate and contrasting phases of urban development in Italy, and their different histories of destruction and excavation have often meant that they have been studied in very different ways. In this course the emphasis is on taking the two cities together, exploring the similarities as well as the differences, and using methodologies designed for one site to interrogate the other. The exceptionally rich data-sets available for each city allow detailed analysis of a very wide range of issues, and the course is designed to allow students to pursue topics of special interest to them. Topics covered in recent years include food supply and diet, religion, population and urban zoning, economic structures and commercial landscapes, and housing.

Coordinator: Dr Janet DeLaine

Classical archaeology began as art history with J.J. Winckelmann, and images, monuments, and visual styles remain essential kinds of evidence for understanding Greek and Roman culture. Classical art has traditionally been explained in terms of artistic development, which places most emphasis on the creator-craftsman and locates the main motive forces of difference and change within the image-making process. The main aim of the course is to consider other approaches. It studies the main assumptions of the methods used to study ancient art, concentrating on work in the last two generations; it looks critically at traditional assessments based on evolutionary gradualism and seeks to bring out explicitly the range of other historical factors that might be in play in and around any given ancient image. Such factors include the social milieu of its buyers and public, technical aspects of materials and workshop manufacture, changing ideas about the subject represented, as well as broader mentalities prevailing in the relevant period, region, and user-group.The idea that none of these factors had a fixed or predictable relationship to each other in the way they might affect ancient images is explored through study of recent controversies in the field and the study of periods of rupture in ancient visual history -- looking at the different kinds of explanations that have been and might be offered to account for rapid change and re-orientation. Subjects include: attributions and the role of the artist; style and ethnicity in archaic art; the classical revolution; the Parthenon frieze controversy; the Augustan revolution; the symbolism controversy in funerary iconography; Greek versus Roman in the 'copies' controversy; the re-orientation of art in late antiquity.

Coordinator: Prof Bert Smith

Architecture is the quintessential Roman art and the well-preserved remains of Roman monuments, buildings and engineering works dominate our vision of the empire. Against a background of the development of Roman architecture from the second century BC to the Tetrarchy, presented in a series of lectures, this course comprises a series of seminars exploring what the Romans themselves thought about their built environment. Using the De architectura of the Roman architect Vitruvius as a starting point, the seminars will address: the nature of architecture and the training of architects; the relative merits of different construction methods and building materials; the design of temples; public buldings intheir civic setting; urban and rural housing; and engineering works and machines. Throughout, the emphasis will be ont he role of architecture in Roman society, and on the varied ways that architecture was employed by individuals and communities to express and enhance their status.

Coordinator: Dr Janet DeLaine

The invasion of Britain in AD 43 by the Emperor Claudius saw the beginning of a process through which an island shrouded in mists at the very edge of the known world became incorporated into the Roman imperial system. But how did Britain become 'Roman'? Were the trappings of classical civilization a mere superficial gloss on top of an enduring Celtic society? Or are the changes in material culture symptomatic of a more profound development, through which models of Roman society enabled provincial elites and those lower down the social hierarchy to negotiate and then articulate entirely new identities?

This paper is a case study that examines the development of a provincial society. The main topics considered are the globalizing nature of Roman conquest and incorporation and how this is played out in the physical environment, economy, society, religion and general culture of Britain.

Coordinator: Dr Damian Robinson

Numismatic evidence can shed light on a wide range of questions of historical and archaeological interest in the Roman period. This course, which covers the principal developments in Roman coinage from its beginnings c. 320 BC until c. AD 500, will explore the numismatic approaches to monetary, economic, political, and cultural history, as well as numismatics as a branch of art history. Both hoards and site finds will be examined from an archaeological perspective. Since students are taught by means of tutorials, the course can reflect often individual interests, as well as covering the broad range of the subject. Lectures are normally also available and include an opportunity to handle some of the relevant coins. Students are also encouraged to make use of the collection in the Heberden Coin Room (Ashmolean Museum), which includes 60,000 Roman coins, and is one of the 'top ten' collections in the world.

Coordinator: Prof Chris Howgego

Roman North Africa (covering parts of modern Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco) was one of the most prosperous areas of the Roman world. It produced much of Rome's grain, and exported, among other things, olive oil and pottery in vast quantities. The ruins of hundreds of once flourishing cities may be seen all over the North African countryside today, and the region produced one of the richest and most vital mosaic traditions in the Empire. This course provides an introduction to the archaeology of the region, examining the particular Romano-African civilisation that emerged and its debts to previous local cultures. Topics studied include the urban development of North African cities (including Lepcis Magna, Timgad and Carthage); aqueducts and water supply; agriculture and rural settlement; the army and the frontier system; North African mosaic art; and how and why the once flourishing urban systems were radically transformed in the changing social and political conditions of late antiquity.

Coordinator: Prof. Andrew Wilson

Portrait images permeated the Mediterranean world in the Roman period, in the form of statues, busts, reliefs, coins, and gems, and the sharp definition and careful styling of individual appearance in these media was a widespread Roman norm. An extensive range of subjects and portrait styles emerged to meet the social and cultural complexity of the Roman Empire. The course studies (1) the functional categories of Roman portraits in their contexts of use, such as honorific statues in the public sphere and busts in houses and tombs, (2) the range of subjects, from emperors to freedmen, (3) local preferences, for example, in Athens, Pompeii, or Palmyra, and (4) broad changes in time of portrait practice and portrait style from the late Republic to late antiquity.

Coordinators: Prof Bert Smith and Dr. Peter Stewart

This option is explores the transformation of Graeco-Roman artistic traditions as they were disseminated through the provinces of the Roman Empire. It will concentrate on material from selected provinces, especially Britain, and seek to understand the technical, stylistic, and iconographical differences that emerged when 'Roman' sculpture was produced sometimes far from its Mediterranean roots. It will also consider the varying functions and usage of art in different parts of the Roman world. The themes examined may include: critiques of the concept of 'Romanization'; the meaning of 'provincialism'; the significance of local materials and economic factors in artistic production; gravestones in Britain, Germany and the Balkans; the stone portraits of Palmyra; funerary art in Roman Egypt; Romano-British mosaics; and the question of where 'provincial' art ends in the Near East and beyond.

Coordinator: Dr. Peter Stewart

More large-scale marble sculpture was produced in the early and middle Roman empire than at any other comparable time in antiquity or since. Statues, reliefs, and carved figure compositions were deployed in imperial society for an extraordinary range of purposes and in huge quantities. The course studies the different categories and uses of carved figures, their range of subjects and themes, and their marked changes through time. Particular themes are sculptured monuments in the service of imperial ideas and the interaction of social context and level with sculptural style. Subjects include: late republican interaction with Hellenistic sculpture; the Ara Pacis; the production of imperial portraits; funerary monuments of Roman freedmen; historical reliefs under Trajan (the Arch of Beneventum and Trajan's Column); sarcophagi; sculptural programmes in the Greek East; monuments of the Tetrarchs and Constantine.

Coordinators: Prof Bert Smith and Dr Janet DeLaine

The course involves in-depth study of selected, specific topics in Aegean Prehistory. It is not a general overview of Aegean Bronze Age, but asks students for detailed treatment of specific issues lying in three main areas: application of theory and method to specific problems; study of an individual site or class of sites; study of an individual artefact or class of artefacts.

Coordinator: Dr Lisa Bendall

The city of Rome has been studied in detail longer than any site from classical antiquity, generating a unique field of study based on by far the richest body of evidence available for any ancient city, including literary sources, epigraphic and numismatic evidence, well-preserved monuments and excavated remains. Nevertheless, new evidence and new approaches are continuing to challenge existing interpretations even in repect to such central areas as the imperial fora. The course introduces students to this exceptional discipline by addressing aspects of the nature and development of the city of Rome from the late third century BC to the fourth century AD, with emphasis on broad issues of urban form and function rather than on individual monuments per se. Since students are taught by means of tutorials, the course can reflect individual interests. Recent special topics include: reading urban boundaries; the nature of residential and commercial neighbourhoods; the economics of construction in Trajanic Rome; and the religious topography of the 3th-4th centuries AD.

Coordinator: Dr Janet DeLaine

Dissertations are usually selected from any of the subject areas outlined in Schedules A-D.  You are encouraged to develop dissertation ideas with your general supervisor throughout the first term and the final topic is to be submitted for approval at the start of Hilary Term.  Your dissertation supervisor may be someone different to your general supervisor depending on the topic that you eventually select.  Guidance on developing dissertation topics and how to construct the dissertation can be found in the Notes for Guidance.

Examples of recent dissertations:

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  • Pagan practices in Viking England? A Multidisciplinary Approach
  • To what extent is colonialism perpetuated through the representation of colonial relations in ethnographic museums?
  • The Role of Religion in Viking-Age Graves in Iceland
  • Separating the (Wo)Men from the Boys: Exploring the Relationship Between Age, Gender and Childhood in Kentish Burial Ritual between the 5th and 7th Centuries
  • Production Technology Research of Ge Kiln in the Song and Yuan Dynasty.
  • Radiocarbon modelling of human occupation in southern Africa across the Pleistocene/Holocene transition
  • The Neolithic Plant Economy of Tell Nebi Mend, Syria
  • Maritime Archaeological Methods and Techniques in Inland Waterways: A Hypothetical Application in Waterways of the United States Inland Northwest.
  • The comparative analysis of the tombs of Nanyue Kingdom - using Guangdong and Guangxi as examples
  • Comparison of the maritime trade in the South China Sea and the Mediterranian. 
  • A comparison between Mycenaean and Babylonian documentary texts.
  • Garum Masala: Was the Indo-Roman Spice Trade of Food Ingredient Truly One-Sided?
  • Blurred Boundaries: mentality, spirituality and magic in Later Medieval Britain
  • The Emergence of Ceramics in Southern China
  • The Archaeology of the Pitt Rivers Museum's Benin Collections. A historiography of Benin at the Pitt Rivers museum, and how the idea of colonialism has changed over time at the Museum. 
  • The Value of Children in Viking Age Scandinavia: The Archaeological Evidence 
  • Material Engagement and Landscape:  Deconstructing the monumentality and topography of Pentre Ifan
  • Early Anglo-Saxon Board Games: A Re-assessment of the Evidence, 400-700 AD
  • Assessing the evidence for slavery in pre-Viking England (5th to 9th centuries)
  • Walls for war? A comparative and multi-faceted approach to the function of walls in Neolithic China
  • A European Perspective of the Transition from Hunter-Gathering to Herding
  • Colonial Corporealities: Assessing the Impacts of the Spanish Conquest on Maya Bodily Ontologies
  • The interrelations of ship technology and nautical societies in the eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic period. 
  • Aegean Bronze Age 
  • Archaeology of thought
  • An Evaluation of the interpretation and mythology of Bushmen rock art.
  • Sir John Evans and Medieval Archaeology: An investigation into the significance of his collections 2016/17

The choice of a thesis subject and title is normally the result of a continued process of discussion and amendment in which students and supervisors play a joint role.  You are encouraged to develop dissertation ideas with your general supervisor throughout the first year and the final topic is to be submitted for approval at the end of Trinity Term.  Your thesis supervisor may be someone different to your general supervisor depending on the topic that you eventually select.  Guidance on developing thesis topics and how to construct the thesis can be found in the Notes for Guidance.

Examples of recent theses:

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  • Majiayao, Qijia, and Xindian: Changes in Ceramic Production from the Neolithic through the Middle Bronze A
  • Gender, Sex and the Body in the Indus Valley Civilization: A Case Study of the Terracotta Figurines from Mohenjo-Daro
  • A lithic approach to testing Upper Palaeolithic population movements: The European Gravettian and North African Later Stone Age
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