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

Postgraduate Course: The Near East From Justinian to the Fall of the Umayyads (Online) (PGHC11557)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryPlague, warfare, and religious transformation. The roughly two hundred years from the reign of Justinian to the fall of the Umayyads could be summed up in this short statement. However, it was not only a period of radical change with far-reaching historical consequences, but also a period 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 religious aniconism and iconoclasm. 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 Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking The Near East from Justinian to the Fall of the Umayyads (CACA10046)
Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. 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. 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. Apply bibliographical research skills to independently seek out additional information on topics relevant to the course.
  5. Analyse and critically reflect on the key points in relevant scholarship.
Reading List
Avni, G. (2014), The Byzantine Islamic Transition in Palestine, OUP.

Bagnall, R. (ed.) (2007), Egypt in the Byzantine World 300-700, CUP.

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 Independent research skills

Ability to critically engage with primary textual and material sources

Ability to produce logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence

Ability to make critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Louise Blanke
Tel: (0131 6)50 2368
Course secretaryMiss Danielle Jeffery
Tel: (0131 6)50 7128
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