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

Undergraduate Course: Byzantine Archaeology: The archaeology of the Byzantine empire and its neighbours AD 500-850. (ARCA10055)

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
Summary Byzantium was a unique state located between the new, dynamic Islamic world and the early medieval kingdoms of continental Europe. The study of Byzantium raises issues relevant for understanding of current politics across the eastern Mediterranean and the significance of images and belief in the medieval and the modern worlds.
Course description Constantinople in the early medieval period
Greece: the transition from late antiquity to the middle ages
A material world: The Ceramic Evidence
Amorium, a Byzantine city in Anatolia?
Building Byzantium
Iconoclasm in Byzantium
Early medieval Urbanism Polis or Kastro?
Seaways: shipping and harbours
Byzantium's neighbours: Islamic Greater Syria and the new Bulgar polity in the Balkans
Uncovering Byzantium in the 20th and 21st century

This course aims to understand the end 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. The early medieval period saw a radical realignment in the economic, social and political structures of Europe, the Mediterranean and western Asia which remains 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. From the late sixth century the empire faced new challenges including invasions by the Slavs, Bulgars and other barbarians in the Balkans and Greece.
We 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 the loss of many of the eastern provinces to the new Islamic world. We will consider the rise of Islam and the impact that the Arab invasions had on the Byzantine world, in particular, on urbanism, religious art and architecture and on trade in the eastern Mediterranean provinces (notably Asia Minor and the former Byzantine communities of Syria and Jordan). 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 modern worlds. Other themes will include the concept of a 'dark age', the evidence for shipping and harbours, and the use of historical and archaeological sources.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Pre-requisites: Archaeology 2A and 2B, or Honours entry to degrees in Classics, or equivalent.
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Archaeology or Classical Archaeology 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
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  7
Course Start Semester 2
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 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework (essay): 40%, Examination (2 hour paper): 60%.

Part-Year Visiting Student (VV1) Variant Assessment:
If this course runs in the first semester - Semester 1 (only) visiting students will be examined in the December exam diet.

Feedback Students are given the opportunity to receive formative feedback on their presentations which is the basis for their assessed essay. Students will receive written feedback on their assessed coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours or by appointment.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the main elements of Byzantine and Islamic archaeology in the early middle ages
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the key issues concerning the relationship of art historical evidence with archaeological and textual sources
  3. demonstrate an awareness of current historical and archaeological debates concerning the early medieval world in the eastern Mediterranean.
  4. demonstrate skills of interpreting and analysing the material and textual sources for transformation and change in the early medieval world.
  5. demonstrate an understanding of the contemporary 'national' interpretations and challenges facing the study of Byzantine archaeology
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
Sarris, P. 2011. Empires of Faith: The Fall of Rome to the Rise of
Islam, 500-700 (Oxford). Good for transition from classical world and military events
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).
¿ur¿i¿, 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 written examination, 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 to produce a concise summary
Additional Class Delivery Information One hour lectures and student-led presentation and discussion
KeywordsByzantine Arch
Course organiserProf Jim Crow
Course secretaryMiss Alexandra Adam
Tel: (0131 6)50 3767
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