Undergraduate Course: The History of North Africa from the Iron Age to the Islamic Conquest (CACA10044)
|School||School of History, Classics and Archaeology
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||The history of North Africa is often described as a story moving from one colonialism to another. From the Iron Age onwards, a series of colonising forces - Phoenician, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Muslim, Ottoman, French, and Italian - each tried to lay claim to the region, and each came into conflict with indigenous North Africans. This course explores the first half of this complex colonial past, a period ending with the Muslim conquests in the early 8th century, from a postcolonial perspective that highlights the ways in which local peoples took advantage of and resisted topdown strategies of imperial control.
The Moroccan historian Abdallah Laroui describes the past of North Africa as a history moving from one colonialism to another. From the Iron Age onwards, a series of colonising forces - Phoenician, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Muslim, Ottoman, French, and Italian - each tried to lay claim to the region's natural wealth, and each came into significant conflict with indigenous North Africans. This course explores the first half of this complex colonial past through the history and archaeology of the area, beginning in the Iron Age of the early first millennium BCE and ending with the Islamic conquest in 709 CE. The consideration of this multifaceted history through the lens of postcolonial theory highlights not only the top-down strategies of various imperial powers but also the ways in which local peoples both took advantage of and resisted attempts at external
After an introduction to the geography and historiography of the Maghreb and an overview of postcolonial theory, weekly sessions are organized chronologically and move from the first Phoenician colonists, through the Punic period and subsequent conflicts with Rome, and into the rapidly shifting politics of the Late Antique world and beyond. A detailed analysis of historical sources from each period is complemented by synthetic scholarship and material culture. Together, these draw out a fuller picture of the indigenous responses to foreign influences. The course concludes with an examination of how these many colonial pasts have been invoked by contemporary actors to legitimize power and create new regional identities. Overall, the course serves as an introduction to the earliest history of North Africa and, through the use of postcolonial studies, explicitly connects this more distant past to the modern history of the region.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or Archaeology (at least 1 of which should be in Classical Art and Archaeology or Roman 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.
** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Coursework: Podcast (with annotated bibliography) (20%), and
3,000 word essay (30%)
Exam: 2 hour paper (50%)
||Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
||Hours & Minutes
|Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)||2:00|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- demonstrate, by way of seminar discussion, coursework and written examination as required, command of the main sites, historical events, primary sources, and material culture of North Africa up to the early Islamic period;
- demonstrate, by way of seminar discussion, coursework and written examination as required, an ability to critically engage with dominant postcolonial theories of cultural contact and to apply those theories to North African primary sources and archaeological materials;
- demonstrate, by way of seminar discussion, coursework and written examination as required, an ability to understand and evaluate a variety of historical and archaeological source material in relation to wider research themes;
- demonstrate, by way of coursework and seminar discussion as required, improved research skills in formulating a historical argument, along with skills in academic prose, citation, and the compilation of a bibliography;
- demonstrate, by way of coursework, skills in oral dissemination of research, in particular targeting non-academic audiences and non-traditional scholarly formats.
Donatist Martyr Stories: The Church in Conflict in Roman North Africa. Translated by M.A. Tilley (1996). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
Sallust. Catiline's Conspiracy, The Jugurthine War, Histories. Translated by W.W. Batstone (2010). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tacitus. The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero. Translated by J.C. Yardley (2008). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brett, M., and E. Fentress. 1996. The Berbers. Oxford: Blackwell.
Conant, J. 2012. Staying Roman. Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439-700. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dossey, L. 2010. Peasant and Empire in Christian North Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Fenwick, C. 2020. Early Islamic North Africa: A New Perspective. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Hobson, M. 2015. The North African Boom: Evaluating Economic Growth in the Roman Province of Africa Proconsularis (146 B.C. - A.D. 439). Portsmouth: Journal of Roman Archaeology.
Hoyos, D. (ed.) 2015. A Companion to the Punic Wars. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.
Lancel, S. 1995. Carthage: A History. Oxford: Blackwell.
Mattingly, D.J. 2011. Imperialism, Power, and Identity: Experiencing the Roman Empire. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Merrills, A.H. (ed.) 2004. Vandals, Romans and Berbers: New Perspectives on Late Antique North Africa. Burlington: Ashgate.
Pitts, M., and M.J. Versluys (eds.) 2015. Globalisation and the Roman World: World History, Connectivity and Material Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stern, K.B. 2008. Inscribing Devotion and Death: Archaeological Evidence for Jewish Populations of North Africa. Leiden: Brill.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Dr Andrew Dufton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4384
|Course secretary||Miss Katherine Perry