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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Classical Art/Classical Archaeology

Undergraduate Course: The Near East from Justinian to the Fall of the Umayyads (CACA10046)

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
SummaryPlague, warfare, and religious and cultural transformation. The roughly two hundred years from the reign of Justinian to the fall of the Umayyads could be summed up in this short sentence. It was not only a period of radical change with far-reaching historical consequences, but also of great innovations in art and architecture that has left us with some of the best-known monuments of the Near East.
Course description This thematic course explores the Near East from the first half of the sixth century to the middle of the eighth century. We will examine the effects of socio-political and religious change through archaeological studies of life in urban and rural environments, technological advances, economy, infrastructure and warfare. The course will explore the sixth-century building boom in the countryside (villages and monasteries) and the return of the rural villa in the seventh and eighth centuries (the Umayyad qusur). We will explore the material culture of warfare through the extensive Sasanian/Byzantine and Byzantine/Islamic frontier zones. The course will highlight the most iconic monuments of the early Islamic period (such as the Dome of the Rock and the Great Mosque of Damascus) and examine them within their Late Antique contexts, while also exploring artistic innovations and new ideas such as iconoclasm and the emergence of architectural calligraphy as an art form. We will finish with an overview of developments after the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate, when the power base in the Near East moved from Damascus to Baghdad and the surviving Umayyad elites fled to Spain.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed The Transformation of the Roman World, ca. 300-800: Towards Byzantium and the Early Medieval West (ANHI08015)
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking The Near East From Justinian to the Fall of the Umayyads (Online) (PGHC11557)
Other requirements Students must have progressed to Honours.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting 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) 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? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to critically engage with key aspects of the religious, cultural and social history of the Near East from the sixth to the eighth century CE.
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to critically engage with both textual sources and material culture pertinent to the Near East from the sixth to the eighth century CE.
  3. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, bibliographical research skills and an ability to independently find additional information on topics relevant to the course as well as analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship.
  5. demonstrate, as required, an ability to make informed contributions to class discussion and summarise succinctly the key points in relevant scholarship.
Reading List
Avni, G. (2014), The Byzantine Islamic Transition in Palestine, OUP.

Brown, P. (1971), The World of Late Antiquity, Thames and Hudson

Decker, M. (2009), Tilling the Hateful Earth: Agricultural Production and Trade in the Late Antique East, OUP.

Eger, A. (2014), The Islamic-Byzantine Frontier. I.B. Tauris.

Evans, H.C. (ed.) (2015), Age of Transition: Byzantine Culture in the Islamic World, YUP.

George, A. and A. Marsham (eds.) (2018), Power, Patronage, and Memory in Early Islam: Perspectives on Umayyad Elites, OUP.

Mourad, S.A., N. Koltun-Fromm and B. der Matossian (eds.) (2019), Routhledge Handbook on Jerusalem, Routledge.

Sarris, P. (2011), Empires of Faith: The fall of Rome and the rise of Islam, OUP.

Walmsley, A.G. (2009), Early Islamic Syria, Bristol Classical Press.

Ward-Perkins, B. (2005), The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization, OUP.

Whittow, M. (2003), 'Decline and Fall? Studying long-term changes in the East' pp 402-423 in L. Lavan and W. Bowden (eds.) Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology. Brill.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Louise Blanke
Tel: (0131 6)50 2368
Course secretaryMiss Sara Dennison
Tel: (0131 6)50 2501
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