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COURSE NAME: "Ancient Rome and Its Monuments "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Alberto Prieto
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: W 9:15-12:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: On-site; activity fee: €40 or $52
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

Rome City Series - This on-site course considers the art and architecture of ancient Rome through visits to museums and archaeological sites. The course covers the visual culture and architecture of Rome beginning with the Iron Age and ending with the time of Constantine. A broad variety of issues are raised, including patronage, style and iconography, artistic and architectural techniques, Roman religion, business and entertainment.

The faculty e-mail address is incorrect. The instructor, Alberto Prieto, can be reached at [email protected]

This course will familiarize the students with the purposes, meanings, materials, and messages of Roman art and architecture over the course of 1100 years, from the founding of a village on the Palatine hill in the 8th century BC to the reign of the emperor Constantine the Great in the early 4th century AD, when the city reached the peak of its architectural and artistic development. We will follow a physical and intellectual route that emphasizes the chronology and specific themes of the city’s transition from leading city of Italy to capital of a Mediterranean-wide empire while making the most of the city’s historically scrambled topography. The ancient architecture preserved in the contemporary urban fabric and the ancient art preserved in museums will be analyzed both synchronically (within a given period of Roman history) and diachronically (across periods), with changes linked to significant historical events and subtle cultural trends. We will consider everything from humble everyday objects like toy dolls to the more familiar portrait busts, statuary, wall and floor decorations, furniture, and structures of all shapes and sizes, both public and private, analyzing them as reflections and conveyors of the identity, interests, and social, economic, religious, political, and military preoccupations of the human beings who commissioned or “consumed” them. Finally, as Roman history was marked by regular contact with other cultures, we will learn to distinguish between the elements of art and architecture in Rome that were specifically Roman in origin and those that were borrowed or taken from others.

As a result of this course, the student will understand how the art and architecture of Rome, both public and private, originated, developed, and changed between ca. 750 BC and AD 337. The student will be able to explain the origins, developments, and changes in terms of historical events, available resources, and internal and external cultural factors representing real and specific human needs and desires. The student will also be able to describe the visual language of Roman art and architecture in Rome, using both broad principles and specific examples illustrated by visits to significant preserved structures and museum collections, as well as the original context and meaning of artworks currently housed in museums.
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Rome. An Oxford Archaeological Guide (2nd ed. 2010)A. ClaridgeOxford University Press0199546835  
A History of Roman ArtS. L. TuckWiley-Blackwell1444330268  

participationbe punctual, alert, and attentive, take good notes, ask questions, contribute to conversations in an informed and positive manner 15%
mid-term examinationcovers material from the first half of the course25%
final examinationfocuses on material from the second half of the course and builds on material covered in the first half30%
on-site presentation & short paper on a site or monument in Romegrade will depend on the quality and depth of the research and the clarity of the oral and written expression10%
visual analysis + research paper on a theme or topic selected by the studentgrade will depend on the quality and depth of the research and the clarity of the oral and written expression20%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence that the student adequately performed and retained the readings and written exercises assigned for the course.
BThis is a highly competent level of performance that addresses the question or problem raised. There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work suffers from some minor errors or omissions and provides evidence of having performed and retained the majority of the readings and written exercises assigned for the course.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance. The answers include minimal information offered in the lectures, reference readings, and exercises without directly and cogently answering the questions and with little or no original thought. The student has a basic grasp of the material.
DMost of the important and directly relevant information is omitted in the answers, and much irrelevant and inaccurate information is included or invented. Numerous errors in the spelling of essential terminology indicate that little effort was invested in preparation. In effect, the student has engaged with the course contents at a minimal level.
FThe work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Many of the questions are left unanswered, and much of the material in any answer is irrelevant. In effect, the student has not engaged with the course contents at all.


As the material covered in the course is cumulative in nature, students are expected to attend every class session. However, there may be days over the course of the semester in which students are sick or otherwise indisposed. Students are allowed to miss one of the fourteen scheduled class sessions without question or penalty, although students who miss a class are required to understand the material covered in their absence. The University does not require medical certificates for routine illnesses causing minor absences from regular class meetings. Every subsequent absence from class not substantiated by a valid excuse will result in a loss of 3 points from the 15-point participation component of the course, equivalent to 3% of the final course grade. Personal travel is never considered a valid excuse for missing class. Students with serious illnesses, chronic conditions, or personal emergencies that result in excessive absences should see the instructor and the Associate Dean.

Since class time is limited and there is much material to cover, punctuality is essential. Students should budget ample time to reach the meeting point, seeking to arrive about 10 minutes early and thus leaving time for a last-minute coffee or restroom visit. Three arrivals to class more than 15 minutes after the start time without a documented excuse (such as vehicle breakdown) will be counted as an unexcused absence from a class session.

Absence from major examinations require the permission of the Dean’s Office, insofar as the student may seek to take a make-up exam, submit a make-up assignment, or count another assessment more so as to cover the missed exam. Likewise, the student needs the permission of the Dean’s office in order to take exams early or reschedule them in any way. The Dean’s Office will only excuse such absences when they are caused by serious impediments, such as a student’s own illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which the student is attending the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences or rescheduling requests due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. A student seeking such an excuse must notify the instructor and the Dean’s Office, as soon as possible, and no later than the beginning of the exam, to have the chance of being excused from the exam and thereby avoid the penalty of a 0 for that assessment.

Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Students who will miss class to observe a religious holiday must notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period (during the first week of classes). Students missing a class for this reason also must make prior arrangements with the instructor to make up any work missed.

See also pp. 75-78 of the 2016-2018 Catalog.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


The readings for each week, which will be listed in the formal course syllabus distributed on the first day of class, will total approximately 70 pages on average. They will be chosen from the course textbooks and other sources; all readings from other sources will be supplied in PDF format on the course website.

W 9/5 Course introduction; geography and geology of Italy and Rome; resources and materials; early cultural contacts and influences

W 9/12 Republic and triumph

W 9/19 Late Republic

W 9/26 From Republic to Empire

W 10/3 Augustan Campus Martius

W 10/10 Rome 2.0

W 10/17 Capital of Empire; review for mid-term exam

W 10/24 Mid-term exam; paper colloquia

W 10/31 Imperial Campus Martius

W 11/7 Entertainment and leisure

W 11/14 Infrastructure and cemeteries

W 11/21 Late empire and Christian transformation

W 11/28 National Roman Museums

W 12/5 City of Rome Museums; review for final exam