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Unit information: Material Remains of the Past in 2020/21

Unit name Material Remains of the Past
Unit code CLAS20059
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Momigliano
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces students to a wide variety of sources available to ancient historians: these sources include archaeological evidence broadly speaking, i.e. material evidence of various cultural practices: from sculpture to potsherds, from buildings to weapons, and from pollen to bones; they also include more specialized evidence related to epigraphy (inscriptions on various media), numismatics (coins), and papyrology (texts written on papyri). Students will also be introduced to the disciplines and sub-disciplines that study material remains, as well as relevant methodological and interpretative issues. They will also explore the contribution of the study of material remains to specific historical questions.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will:

  1. demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of evidence provided by the material remains of antiquity, such as those provided by archaeology, epigraphy, numismatic, and papyrology;
  2. evaluate some of the ways in which scholars make use of such evidence in studying particular problems in ancient history, and in producing interpretations of pieces of evidence;
  3. use the knowledge acquired in lectures and through their own research to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments based on the use of material evidence;
  4. demonstrate developed skills in oral and written communication, at a standard appropriate to level I.

Teaching details

This unit will involve a combination of independent investigative activities, long- and short-form lectures, and discussion. Students will be expected to engage with materials and participate on a weekly basis. Feedback will be provided for both formative and summative assessments, and this will be supported by meetings with tutors.

Assessment Details

1. Group presentation (formative). [ILOs 2-4]. 2. 2,000 word essay (summative) (100%). [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

C. Brunn and J. Edmondson, The Oxford Handbook of Roman Epigraphy (2015)

M. Crawford ed., Sources for Ancient History (1983)

J. M. Hall, Artifact & Artifice: Classical Archaeology and the Ancient Historian, (2014)

C. Howgego, Ancient History from Coins (1995)