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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Classical Archeology"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Jens Koehler
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: W2:15 PM 5:00 PM
PREREQUISITES: Partially on-site; activity fee: €25 or $33
OFFICE HOURS: cell. 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 on Classical Archaeology, i. e. on Italy and the Mediterranean from Minoan Crete to Late Antique Rome. The discipline’s changing interests, methods, and excavation techniques from the 18th century to recent approaches will be analyzed.

-        How to get from the excavation of ancient monuments and artifacts to an interpretation of the material evidence of past civilizations? How to read a stratigraphy, how to establish a typology?

-        Why became survey techniques (e. g. ground penetrating radar, GPR) a standard of any archaeological investigation? How to overcome problems when excavating under special conditions: think of underwater archaeology, or when studying special finds: e. g. human remains?

-        What are the pros and cons when employing Natural sciences (e. g. radiocarbon dating, 14C), historical data (coins and inscriptions), or stylistic evidence (art and architecture)? What does each method contribute to a better understanding of ancient communities in their chronological context?

-        Archaeology does not end with the excavation: What does ‘post-excavation’ mean? Restoration and reconstruction efforts as well as the presentation to the public (of excavation sites and in museums) will be discussed.

-        Finally, a view on the dark side of archaeology. Art crime, as illegal looting of archaeological sites and trafficking of art, are actual threats and may show the risks to lose our past.

Visits to archaeological sites (and to present excavations in Rome, where possible) shall intensify the understanding of the in-class lessons.

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 NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Introduction to ArchaeologyGreene, K.n/an/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 December 6-10. 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

Sept 6 at 2:15pm

1) Introduction. Archaeological practice, theories and methods. History of research: Capitoline Hill.

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

Chapel 1
then walk

Sept 13

2) Archaeological survey techniques. Discovery and pre-excavation.

Greene ch. 2


in classroom

Sept 20

3) Visit to the Forum Romanum. History of research and archaeological excavation.

Claridge, Rome 62-123

meet at the Arch of Constantine

Sept 27

4)  Theory and practice of excavation

Greene ch. 3

pick oral presentation topic

 in classroom

Oct 4 at 01:30 pm ! (or Fri Oct. 6 - TBC)

5) & 6) Visit to Ostia Antica. Archaeological excavation and restoration.


Meet at the pyramid, Piazzale Ostiense

Oct 11


Oct 18

7) Midterm Test


no lesson


in classroom

Oct. 20 make-up for 11/1

8) Chronology and dating methods. Dendrochronology, Carbon 14 and related methods.

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

in classroom

Oct. 25

9) Visit to the Gipsoteca/Museum of Classical Art. Greek sculpture and stylistic dating.

D. E. E. Kleiner; N. H. Ramage – A. 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 metro A stop Castro Pretorio

Nov 1

holiday - no lesson

paper outline due

Nov 8 (TBC) 10) Visit to Villa of the Auditorium. Excavation, economy, pottery. K. Greene, Roman Pottery; Claridge, Rome.


Meet at TBA

Nov 15

11) Oral presentations (1).

Numismatics: Coinage.


oral pres.

in classroom

Nov. 22

12) Oral presentations (2).

Epigraphy: Inscriptions.


oral pres.

in classroom




Nov 29 

13) Visit to the Via dei Fori Imperiali. Archaeological heritage. Restoration.

Claridge, Rome 161-196. 312-319.

Meet at Column of Trajan

Dec 6

14) Art crime: Tomb raiders and the illicit art market. Review for final exam.

Greene p. 14ff. ch. 5. 6;www.artcrimeresearch.org

paper due

in classroom

Dec. 11-15 TBA

15) 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
























































Book Title


Rome. Archaeological Guide (2010)

A. Claridge

Rome and Environs (2007)

F. Coarelli

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

C. Renfrew - P. Bahn

Reader in Archaeological Theory (1998)

D. S. Whitley

Burial, Society, and Context (2001)

J. Pierce, M. Millett, M. Struck

Understanding Archaeological Excavation (1986)

P. Barker

The Archaeological Process (1999)

I. Hodder

Archaeological Theory. An Introduction (1999)

M. Johnson



Book Title


Archaeology. A Very Short Introduction (2012)

P. Bahn

In the Beginning. An Introduction to Archaeology (2005)

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

The Archaeology of Roman Economy (1986)

K. Greene

Roman Pottery (1992)

K. Greene

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

J. Coulston, H. Dodge

An Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology (1996)

N. Thompson de Grummond

A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (1992)

L. Richardson

The Ancient Mediterranean Environment between Science and History (2013)

W. V. Harris (ed.)