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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Classical Archaeology"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Jens Koehler
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: T9:15 AM 12:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: Partially on-site; activity fee: €25 or $33
OFFICE HOURS: 338-5256504

This is an introduction to the major cultures of the classical world, ca. 2000 BC to AD 400, with archaeology as the primary body of evidence. Following an introduction to the history of classical archaeology and current archaeological theory and methods, the course traces the development of society in the Mediterranean basin from the Minoans and Mycenaeans to the complex system of the Roman Empire. The course involves lectures and museum visits and integrates information from current archaeological projects.

Students will be introduced to archaeological research, focusing predominantly - but not exclusively - on Classical Archaeology, i. e. on Italy and the Mediterranean. The recovering of ancient monuments and artifacts by excavation is only one archaeological method to get information on the past. We will learn about radar surveys, aerial reconnaissance and underwater archaeology. The interpretation of stratigraphy and dating methods based on natural sciences (as C14, dendrochronology, thermoluminescence), on historical data or on stylistic evidence jointly contribute to establish a chronology. Apart from fieldwork, the question remains what to do with the regained facts: We will see the changing interests of the discipline by an overview of the history of archaeology, from the first scientific excavations in the 18th century to new approaches in the last years. Finally, the presentation to the public (restoration, museums) and problems as illegal digging of archaeological sites and trafficking of art will be discussed.

Visits to archaeological sites and - if possible - present excavations in Rome shall intensify the understanding of the course's content.

Students may have to pay some extra-fee to cover entrance fees to archaeological sites and museums.


Students are introduced to different methods and theories of archaeological research. They can acquire the tools to recognize the most important classes of archaeological materials. The analysis of unknown monuments and objects allow students to study and think critically. The nature of the exams, the term paper, as well as oral presentations and class discussion, are aimed to a further development of critical analysis, presentation and communication skills.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Archaeology. An Introduction (2010, 5th ed.)Greene, K.Routledgen/an/a 

Midterm Test The midterm test will consist in short questions and an essay question. Date: see schedule. 20%
Final Exam The final exam takes place in the week of Dec. TBA. It consists in identification, short questions and cumulative essay questions. 30%
Oral Presentation Each student has to give one oral presentation on a topic or a site or a monument to be selected (list follows). The presentation of 5-10 minutes should be accompanied by a class handout (1-2 pages). Date of presentation as best related to the class schedule. 15%
Paper The outline of 1-2 pages should include a thesis, possible chapters, and a first bibliography. The paper should be 5-7 double-spaced pages, exclusive of images and bibliography. due dates: see schedule. 25%
ParticipationIn addition to timely presence, active participation is expected of all students. You are expected to come to class having read the assignment and to be prepared to answer and make relevant questions and to share your own observations. 10%

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 of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for t
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

All scheduled classes are mandatory. You are allowed only one unjustified absence; every unjustified absence thereafter will result in the lowering of your grade. Attendance will be taken at each class. Because this is an on-site course with special scheduled permits to sites and museums it has strict time limitations. You must, therefore, always be punctual. You should calculate around 40-50 minutes travel time to our meeting points (specified below in the class schedule). Please refer to the university catalog for attendance and absence policy.

For legal reasons no visitors are allowed to follow the class.
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.



Session Focus

Reading Assignment

Other Assignment

 Meeting Place/Exam Dates

Sep. 3, at 9:15 am

1) Introduction. Archaeological practice, theories and methods. Archaeology in the city center of Rome (Theater of Pompey, Largo Argentina temples).

introduction books; syllabus; Claridge, Rome 4-32. 239-246.

in classroom C. 0. 2.
then walk

Sep. 10, at 9:15 am

2) History of research: Capitoline Hill. Area sacra of Sant'Omobono.

Greene ch. 1; Claridge, Rome 459-460. 259-262. 282-285.

start in classroom.
(then walk)

Sep. 17, at 8:30 am

3) Theory and practice of excavation.

Greene ch. 3

pick oral presentation topic

in classroom

Sep. 24, at 8:30 am

4) Pottery. Typology, production, chronology. Visit to Mount Testaccio.

K. Greene, Roman Pottery; Claridge, Rome 402-405.

meet at the pyramid, Piazzale Ostiense

Oct. 1, at 8:30 am   

5) Visit to Ostia Antica. History of research and archaeological excavation.


meet at the pyramid, Piazzale Ostiense

Oct. 8, at 8:30 am

6) Archaeological survey techniques. Underwater archaeology.

Greene ch. 2

in classroom

Oct. 15, at 9:15 am

7) Midterm Test


in classroom C. 0. 2.



Oct. 22 no class


Oct. 29, at 8:30 am

8) Chronology and dating methods. Dendrochronology, Carbon 14 and related methods. The art history approach

Greene ch. 4; Claridge, Rome 494-496.

paper outline due

in classroom

Nov, 5, at 8:30 am 9) Visit to the Gipsoteca, Museo dell'Arte Classica, Università La Sapienza. Ramage-Ramage, Roman Art (4th ed.) 24-27; R. R. R. Smith, Hellenistic Sculpture (1991) 14-18; D. Strong, Roman Art (2nd ed.) 36. 58-63.

meet at main entrance
(Piazza Aldo Moro)

Nov. 12, at 8:30 am

10) Historical dating: Coinage. Oral presentations 1.

Claridge, Rome 33-34. 44-45. oral pres.

in classroom
(then walk)             

Nov. 19, at 8:30 am

11) Inscriptions.(Santa Maria in Trastevere).
Oral presentations 2.

Claridge, Rome 33-34. 44-45. .

oral pres.

in classroom

Nov. 26, at 8:30 am

12) Roman burials. Human remains. Conservation, Restoration. (Museo Pigorini?).

Greene ch. 5.6. Human remains (p. 214ff.); Claridge, Rome 60-61. 222-223.


TBA: in classroom or
pyramid, Piazzale Ostiense

Dec. 3, at 9:15 am

13) Presentation to the public, reconstructions(Aqua Virgo. City of Water).
Archaeological heritage. Tomb raiders and illicit art market. (Centrale Montemartini).

Greene ch. 6; www.artcrimeresearch.org

paper due

start in classroom.
then by bus.

Dec. 9-13.

Final Exam


in classroom TBA

this is a preliminary schedule; on-site visits depend on other institutions than JCU and may be changed; 

you can call the front office at 06-6819121


Archaeology. Theories, Methods, Practice (3rd ed. 2000)

C. Renfrew - P. Bahn

Archaeology. A Very Short Introduction (2012)

P. Bahn

Rome. Archaeological Guide (2010) also as ebook

A. Claridge

Rome and Environs (2014) also as ebook

F. Coarelli



In the Beginning. An Introduction to Archaeology (2005)

B. M. Fagan, C. R. De Corse

An Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology (1996)

N. Thompson de Grummond

The Archaeology of Roman Economy (1986)

K. Greene

Roman Pottery (1992)

K. Greene

Burial, Society, and Context (2001)

J. Pierce, M. Millett, M. Struck

Ancient Rome. The Archaeology of the Ancient City (2000)

J. Coulston, H. Dodge

A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1992)

L. Richardson

The Ancient Mediterranean Environment between Science and History (2013)             

W. V. Harris (ed.)

Seeing Beneath the Soil: Prospecting Methods in Archaeology (2003)

Clark, E.

Understanding Archaeological Excavation (1986)

P. Barker

Reader in Archaeological Theory (1998)

D. S. Whitley

The Archaeological Process (1999)

I. Hodder

Archaeological Theory. An Introduction (1999)

M. Johnson

TRAC 2000-2015: Proceedings of the annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference

various edd.

Archaeology, Cultural Heritage, and the Antiquities Trade (2006)

Brodie, N.