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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Byzantine Archaeology: The archaeology of the Byzantine empire and its neighbours AD 500-850. (PGHC11260)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course aims to understand the transformation of the Classical world and the emergence of new and diverse material cultures, institutions and ideologies in the Byzantine empire and its neighbours, including the Islamic world. An important theme is the relationship of text and material culture for understanding past societies.
Course description Constantinople the transition from late antiquity
Rome-Constantinople-Jerusalem in the eighth century
Seaways and trade
Amorium, a Byzantine city in Anatolia?
Building Byzantium
Iconoclasm in Byzantium and the Islamic world
Early medieval Urbanism Polis or Kastro?
Setting the scene: Byzantium's neighbours, Islamic Greater Syria and the new Bulgar polity in the Balkans
Hagiography and Archaeology, engaging text and material culture
Uncovering Byzantium in the 20th and 21st century

The early medieval period saw a radical realignment in the economic, social and political structures of Europe, the Mediterranean and western Asia which remain fundamental for understanding many of the tensions in the modern world. Byzantium was a unique state located between the new, dynamic Islamic world and the early medieval kingdoms of continental Europe. The course examines the material culture and structures of Byzantium and its neighbours from the Justinian's reign in the 6th century to AD 850. The study will begin by considering Justinian's empire and in particular by reviewing the recent debate on the end of urbanism in late antiquity. The empire faced new challenges including invasions by the Slavs, Bulgars and other barbarians in the Balkans and Greece and we will consider aspects of state-formation of Bulgaria. We will look at the rise of Islam and the impact the Arab invasions had on the Byzantine world as well on urbanism, religion and transport in the eastern Mediterranean. Orthodox Christianity was crucial for the survival of the Byzantine state and the crisis concerning the worship of religious images known as Iconoclasm, raises issues relevant for understanding the significance of images and belief in the medieval and the modern worlds.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework equivalent to a 4000 word essay 100%
Feedback Students are encouraged to discuss their essay with the course tutor and there is the opportunity for feedback following assessment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. A knowledge and understanding of the main elements of Byzantine and Islamic archaeology in the early middle ages ?
  2. An understanding of the key issues concerning the relationship of art historical evidence with archaeological and textual sources
  3. An awareness of current historical and archaeological debates concerning the early medieval world in the eastern Mediterranean.
  4. An understanding of the contemporary 'national' interpretations and challenges facing the study of Byzantine archaeology
  5. A recognition of the contribution of material and textual evidence for an understanding of past societies
Reading List
Whittow, M. 1996 The Making of Orthodox Byzantium 600-1025. London: Macmillan. Provides a historical overview of the period from a Byzantine perspective
Whickham, C. 2009 Inheritance of Rome a history of Europe 400-1000 (Penguin) HUB this takes a wider view
Mango, C. ed. 2002 The Oxford History of Byzantium (Oxford)
Mango C.1980 The empire of New Rome (London)
Jeffreys, E., et al. 2008 The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, Oxford
Brubaker, L. and Haldon, J. 2001 Byzantium in the Iconoclast Era (ca 680-850): The Sources. Ashgate: Aldershot.
Cormack R. 1985 Writing in Gold Byzantine Society and its Icons (London)
Cormack R. 2000 Byzantine Art (Oxford).
Curcic S. 2010 Architecture in the Balkans from Diocletian to Süleyman the Magnificant (New Haven 2010).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills At the end of this course the student will be able, through coursework and class discussion, to demonstrate his/her:
written skills and oral communication skills
analytical skills to understand the strengths and weaknesses of textual and material evidence from the past
ability to recognise and focus on important aspects of a wide-ranging subject and understand different viewpoints and perspectives
ability and confidence to undertake independent research
Additional Class Delivery Information N.B. Timetable is arranged annually
Course organiserProf Jim Crow
Course secretaryMiss Danielle Jeffrey
Tel: (0131 6)50 3782
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