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

Postgraduate Course: Agricultural Slavery in the Graeco-Roman World (PGHC11152)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn this course, students will study the key texts and materials for agricultural slavery in the Graeco-Roman World (esp. agricultural manuals, archaeological remains, epigraphic records). In doing so, they will be introduced to the major issues of modern debate and the various approaches and methodologies adopted by modern scholars, which should equip them to formulate their own questions in the field.
Course description Greek and Roman societies depended largely on the exploitation of slave and un-free labour, of which the forced extraction of agricultural labour formed a major part. The study of agricultural slavery and related forms of exploitation thus provides a key to the study of slavery in antiquity as a whole. It provides also a key to the study and interpretation of ancient societies and of slavery as a universal system for the extraction of forced labour. In view of the active use of knowledge of ancient slave systems by slave owners in the New World, the study of ancient texts and materials also bears directly on the study of the exploitation of slave and un-free agricultural labour in more recent periods

The course will explore:

1. The potential and limitations of the ancient evidence for agricultural slavery;
2. The range of approaches and attitudes to (agricultural) slave labour in antiquity;
3. The range of forms and types of agricultural slave and un-free labour;
4. The relationship between free and unfree labour in an ancient agricultural context;
5. Definitions and concepts of slave labour;
6. Methodologies and approaches taken by modern scholars to the topic;
7. Comparatist potential and limitations;
8. Differences and similarities esp. between Greek and Roman slavery;
9. Differences and similarities between agricultural and urban slavery;
10. The role of slavery studies within labour studies.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
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, in written coursework and group discussion, an ability to analyse independently ancient materials relating to agricultural slavery in antiquity
  2. demonstrate, in written coursework and group discussion, sound and wide-reaching understanding of key issues and themes in ancient slavery studies
  3. demonstrate, in written coursework and group discussion, an advanced understanding of the impact of historiographical issues on the study of ancient slavery
  4. demonstrate, in written coursework and group discussion, advanced understanding of the interrelatedness of ancient and modern slavery studies
  5. demonstrate, in written coursework and group discussion, originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers; and a considerable degree of autonomy
Reading List
K.R. Bradley (1998), Slavery and Rebellion in the Roman World, 140BC-70BC

K.R. Bradley (1994), Slavery and Society at Rome

K.R. Bradley (1987), Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire. A Study in Social Control

W.W. Buckland (1908), The Roman Law of Slavery

M.I. Finley (1980), Ancient Slavery and Modern Ideology

M.I. Finley (ed.) (1987), Classical Slavery

M.I. Finley (1980), Slavery in Classical Antiquity

M.I. Finley (1959), 'Was Greek Civilisation Based on Slave Labour?', Historia 8, 145-164

N. Fisher (1993), Slavery in Classical Greece

K. Hopkins (1978), Conquerors and Slaves

M.H. Jameson (1977/8), 'Agriculture and Slavery in Classical Athens', Classical Journal 73, 122-146

D.W. Rathbone (1981), 'The Development of Agriculture in the 'Ager Cosanus' in the Republican Period: Problems of Evidence and Interpretation', JRS 71, 10-23

D.W. Rathbone (1983), 'The Slave Mode of Production in Italy', JRS 73, 160-168
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsAgriSlavery Agriculture Slavery Graeco Roman
Course organiserDr David Lewis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3851
Course secretary
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