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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryByzantium 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 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 modern Turkey, Greece, the Black Sea and south Italy. Established patterns of urbanism declined and the early medieval period saw a radical realignment in the economic, social and political structures of Europe, the Mediterranean and western Asia. 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 as well as the contribution of environmental and climate studies as a key for understanding many of these transitions. We will consider the impact that the Arab invasions had on the Byzantine world by land and sea; in particular, on urbanism, religious art and architecture and on trade in the eastern Mediterranean provinces. The course requires students to engage with both written and material evidence, including the study of monumental architecture, maritime archaeology, pottery and coins.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Byzantine Archaeology: The archaeology of the Byzantine empire and its neighbours AD 500-850. (PGHC11260)
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
Not being delivered
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.

Haldon, J. 2016 The empire that would not die, the paradox of Eastern Roman survival, Harvard.

Izdebski, A. 2013. A Rural Economy in Transition: Asia Minor from Late Antiquity into the Early Middle Ages. Warsaw.

Niewöhner, P. (ed.) 2017. The Archaeology of Byzantine Anatolia: From the End of Late Antiquity until the Coming of the Turks, Oxford.

Jeffreys, E., et al. 2008 The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, Oxford

Ousterhout, R. 2019 Eastern Medieval Architecture, the Building traditions of Byzantium and neighbouring lands, Oxford.
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 secretaryMr George Bottrell-Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)50 8349
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