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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: Roman Slavery (ANHI10011)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course aims to be a general introduction to the topic of forced and slave labour in the ancient world. It covers major topical issues within slavery studies, such as enslavement processes, the role/s of slaves in society, law and slavery, male and female slave labour, slave resistance and rebellion, numbers of slaves, etc. Although the course specifically focuses on the Roman world, it will also cover other selected parts of the ancient world, e.g. Greece and the Ancient Near East.
Course description The course offers focussed study of slavery in the Roman world, covering a range of important topics that cover both thematic and conceptual issues, as well as questions concerning the source material.

A typical class schedule may look like this:

W1 General introduction; definitions of slavery and other forms of un-free labour. The historiography of ancient slavery studies.
W2 Roman slavery in the Mediterranean context: evidence and models.
W3 The Roman slave supply and the demography of slavery.
W4 The Slave Mode of Production: slave labour; the villa economy.
W5 Slaves as entrepreneurs, managers, agents and civil servants
W6 Slave families, slave women and slave children. Slaves in old age.
W7 The social condition of slaves: treatment, violence, protection
W8 Resistance, rebellion and compliance (la mentalité esclavagiste).
W9 The end of the slave status at Rome: manumission and the Roman freedman
W10 Slavery as an intellectual and ideological problem
W11 The decline and fall of Roman slavery?

In the course of the semester, the students should acquire familiarity with a) various types of slave labour exploited (e.g. agricultural, industrial and commercial), as well as the differences between public and private slavery; b) the various bodies of evidence available for the study of ancient slavery (i.e. archaeology, epigraphy, literary evidence and papyrology); and c) the various approaches taken by scholars towards the study of (ancient) slavery (e.g. comparatist, feminist, Marxist, quantitative).

Because of the significance of slave and forced labour in ancient societies, the topic offers itself as a valuable introduction to the study of the ancient world as a whole, as well as to issues of labour, labour rights and movements - or their absence. Likewise, the course is an ideal introduction to the study of slavery as a historical phenomenon, and the course is therefore explicitly comparatist.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Ancient History 2a: Past and Present in the Ancient World (ANHI08014) AND Ancient History 2b: Themes and Theories in Ancient History (ANHI08013)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students should have achieved Passes in 'Ancient History 2a: Past and Present in the Ancient World' (ANHI08014) AND 'Ancient History 2b: Themes and Theories in Ancient History' (ANHI08013); or equivalent experience at the Course Organiser's discretion.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter (at least 2 of which should be in Ancient History) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate in written examination, coursework and class discussion an understanding of the complexity of the topic and its interrelatedness with other important topics
  2. demonstrate in written examination, coursework and class discussion a knowledge of some important aspects of ancient slavery as a system of exploitation
  3. demonstrate in written examination, coursework and class discussion an ability to use critically a variety of different categories of material, epigraphic and literary evidence
  4. demonstrate in written examination, coursework and class discussion an understanding of some of the major historiographical issues relating to the study of slavery
  5. demonstrate in written examination, coursework and class discussion an awareness of some of the differences and similarities between ancient and modern slavery
Reading List
K.R. Bradley, Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World, 140BC-70BC (1998)
K.R. Bradley, Slavery and Society at Rome (1994)
K.R. Bradley, Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire (1987)
N. Fisher, Slavery in Classical Greece (1993)
W. Fitzgerald, Slavery and the Roman literary imagination (2000)
K. Hopkins, Conquerors and Slaves (1978)
H. Mouritsen, The Freedman in the Roman World (2011)
D.W. Rathbone, 'The development of agriculture in the ager Cosanus in the Republican period: problems of evidence and interpretation', JRS 71 (1981), 10-23
D.W. Rathbone, 'The slave mode of production in Italy', JRS 73 (1983), 160-168
U. Roth (ed.), By the Sweat of your Brow. Roman Slavery in its Socio-Economic Setting (2010)
U. Roth, Thinking Tools. Agricultural Slavery between Evidence and Models (2007)
T.E.J. Wiedemann, Slavery (1997)
T.E.J. Wiedemann, Greek and Roman Slavery (1988)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsRoman Slavery
Course organiserDr Juan Lewis
Tel: (0131 6)50 4563
Course secretaryMs Elaine Hutchison
Tel: (0131 6)50 3582
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