Approaches to the Late Iron Age and Roman Countryside


Course Objective

If you successfully complete the course, you will:
1. have acquired a good knowledge of the most important theoretical
approaches that have been used by archaeologists and ancient historians
to study the Roman and pre-Roman countryside;
2. have shown the ability to connect these theoretical approaches to
concrete cases and reflect critically about the ways archaeologists or
historians have applied them;
3. have acquired a deeper knowledge of the Late Iron Age and Roman
countryside in one region of the Roman empire;
4. have learnt how to write a critical review of an academic study on
the Roman countryside which meets the academic standards of scientific
journals within the fields of archaeology or ancient history.

Course Content

While the main residences of Roman villas first drew the attention of
archaeologists as early as the 17th or 18th centuries, the Roman
countryside as a separate and coherent field of study has emerged only
fairly recently. Systematic study of the rural world of the Roman empire
first developed after World War II when in many areas of the empire
survey projects were set up which aimed at a better understanding of the
organization of the landscape. During the last couple of decades, in
many European countries rescue excavations have generated an explosion
of new data on hitherto under-researched parts of the countryside.
In this course, we will explore the distinctive theoretical approaches
and perspectives that archaeologists have adopted in the past to
interpret the available data on the Roman countryside. We will look at
the political, economic, social, and religious organization of the
landscape. While the main focus of the course is on the Roman period,
attention will also be paid to the landscapes of the Late pre-Roman Iron
Age in order to see to what extent the Roman countryside can be
considered a transformation of the pre-existing Late Iron Age situation.
Key concepts are structure and agency, postcolonialism, identity and
cultural hybridity, as well as Romanisation. Topics to be dealt with in
the lectures are rural settlement and the organization of the
countryside in the Late pre-Roman Iron Age, the political impact of
empire on land holding and land division in the Roman provinces, the
integration of marginal landscapes into the networks of the Roman
empire, and the religious organization of the countryside. Examples in
the lectures will be mainly taken from the north-western provinces, but
attention will also be paid to the Mediterranean.

Teaching Methods

Lectures and seminars.

Method of Assessment

Participation in classroom discussions (10%), three assignments (45%),
and review essay (45%)


All obligatory course literature will be made available during the
course or may be borrowed from or consulted in the university library.
All students are expected to read the compulsory literature for each
class, as this is a pre-condition for having fruitful discussions in
class. Participation in the classroom discussions will be graded.

Target Audience

This course is aimed at graduate students in archaeology who wish to
pursue a career in Late Iron Age or Roman field archaeology. Students in
Ancient studies or Ancient history specializing on Rome may take this
course as well.

Additional Information

The course will be taught in English. Most course literature will be in
English, but incidentally you may be asked to read a paper in another

Recommended background knowledge

Bachelor in Archaeology, Ancient History or Ancient Studies

General Information

Course Code L_BEMAARC021
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. A.M.J. Derks
Examiner dr. A.M.J. Derks
Teaching Staff dr. A.M.J. Derks
prof. dr. N.G.A.M. Roymans

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: