BA Latin and Linguistics

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Living and Dying in the Ancient World

Unit code CAHE10602
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Archaeology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Drawing on literary, art historical and archaeological evidence, this course introduces you to key developments, concepts and ideas common to many ancient societies in and around the Mediterranean between the Neolithic and Roman periods. Intentionally designed to be interdisciplinary, you will explore how ancient people lived and died from a variety of angles and thus gain insights into theoretical approaches and philosophical underpinnings of core disciplines in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. Topics explored revolve around central issues experienced by mankind, and include the appearance of cities and resulting consequences of urbanisation, the emergence of writing and the social impact of literacy, the nature and importance of public entertainment, how societies cope with death and the legacy of the past. Over the duration of the course, you will explore several central themes in lectures, seminars, and your written submissions, and engage directly with the ancient evidence at the heart of each issue. By doing so, you will gain a broad foundation in the ideas and concepts you will use throughout your degree programme in the School.


  • To introduce students to a range of issues at the very core of ancient (and indeed modern) societies through a series of case studies.
  • To introduce students to a wide variety of pertinent literary, art historical and archaeological evidence from ‘Old World’ societies.
  • To help students develop an awareness of the diversity of theoretical approaches, concepts and evidence available for the analysis and interpretation of social issues.
  • To encourage students to develop critical skills by analysing a variety of key evidence types.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should/will be able to:




Lecture schedule (subject to lecturer availability):


Theme 1: Cities and Urbanisation (Introduction: What are cities?)

Theme 1: Cities and Urbanisation (Case Studies: The first cities in the Middle East: new ways of living; The dirty side of Romans towns: sewage and waste disposal)

Theme 2: Writing and Literacy (Introduction: Writing and literacy now and then)

Theme 2: Writing and Literacy (Case Studies: The purpose and social meaning of literacy in Roman and late antique societies; Oral literacy in Greek and Roman Palestine)

Theme 3: Public Entertainment (Introduction: Public entertainment now and then)

Theme 3: Public Entertainment (Case Studies: the Roman games: power and spectacle; fieldtrip to Chester to see the amphitheatre, shrine of Minerva and bath house)

Theme 4: Death and the Afterlife (Introduction: death and the afterlife)

Theme 4: Death and the Afterlife (Case studies: death and afterlife in ancient Egypt; Death in the modern world)

Theme 5: Reception of the Past (Introduction)

Theme 5: Reception of the Past (Case Study: Ancient Athens: the modern uses and abuses of ancient democracy)

Conclusion (Putting it all together: Roman triumphs)

Essay Writing Skills





Teaching and learning methods

This is a team-taught course. 11 weekly one-hour lectures are supported by 11 weekly one-hour seminar sessions. Compulsory reading that complements the lecture topic is assigned to students in preparation for each seminar. Reading and supplementary material is delivered primarily through the course Blackboard site.

The course will be delivered fully through Blackboard, including all course literature and compulsory seminar preparation.

Weekly lectures (2 hours)

Weekly seminars (1 hour)

Weekly dedicated consultation (1 hour)


  • course handbook;
  • assessment guidelines;
  • relevant eLearning content.

Knowledge and understanding

  • have acquired basic knowledge of core issues for different cultural and (pre)historical contexts from the ‘Old World’;
  • have developed an awareness of different types of evidence, as well as an appreciation of the problems involved in marshalling these different kinds of evidence;
  • demonstrate some knowledge of the critical methods which link many of the disciplines within the School.

Intellectual skills

  • demonstrated an ability to evaluate and reflect upon different theoretical approaches and evidence types;
  • have acquired experience in summarizing ones intellectual position;
  • have acquired experience in marshalling the evidence to support one’s own argument. 

Practical skills

  • Acquired experience in presenting and reflecting upon evidence orally in a group context.
  • Demonstrated an ability to utilize Blackboard.
  • Demonstrate an ability to research a topic using library and internet resources.
  • Developed an awareness of appropriate academic conventions for presentation of written arguments.
  • Acquired experience in planning, conducting and presenting an essay of 2,000 words.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • have gained practice in managing time and working to deadlines;
  • have acquired experience in contributing to group discussions;
  • demonstrate an ability to communicate in written work;
  • have developed experience in a critical use of the Internet to retrieve information;
  • have gained experience in utilizing computer word processing software.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Cognitive Skills: the critical evaluation of scholarly materials; summarising a body of literature; structuring and sustaining arguments vocally and in written form.
Practical and Professional Skills: this course unit provides an outline understanding of the ancient world by drawing on the contribution of many different disciplines. You gain a foundational knowledge of several case studies as well as the theoretical and philosophical frameworks utilised by different disciplines.
Cognitive Skills: the critical evaluation of scholarly materials; summarising a body of literature; structuring and sustaining arguments vocally and in written form. Personal Capabilities: writing and oral presentation skills, group working, independent learning.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)


Formative and summative

2000 words



Formative and summative

2000 words



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Concise formative written feedback is provided throughout the semester for each submitted seminar preparation assignment and form the basis for the subsequent summative Portfolio feedback.

Formative and summative

The seminars are a place for directed discussion and thus provide verbal formative feedback on the development and presentation of argument and interpretation.


The essay feedback form gives formative written feedback and a summative mark.

Formative and summative


Recommended reading


Baines, J. and Millard, A.R. 1992. Literacy. Anchor Bible Dictionary 4: 333-40.

Edwards, C. 2007. Death in Ancient Rome. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

Futrell, A. 2006. A Sourcebook on the Roman Games. Oxford: Blackwell.

Garland, R. 1985. The Greek Way of Death. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Hornung, E. 1999. The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife. Ithaka, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Kyle, D.G. 2007. Sport and Spectacle in the Ancient World. Oxford: Blackwell.

Kyle, D.G. 1998. Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome. London: Routledge.

Lamberg-Karlovsky, C.C. 2003. To Write Or Not To Write. In T. Potts, M. Roaf and D. Stein (eds), Culture Through Objects: Ancient Near Eastern Studies in Honour of P.R.S. Moorey (Oxford: Griffith Institute), pp. 59-75.

Marcus, J. and Sabloff, J.A. (eds), 2008. The Ancient City: New Perspectives on Urbanism in the Old and New World. School of American Research Press.

Mieroop, M. v. d. 1999. The Ancient Mesopotamian city. Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Morris, I. 1992. Death –Ritual and Social Construction in Classical Antiquity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Morris, I. 1987. Burial in Ancient Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Parker Pearson, M. 1999. The Archaeology of Death and Burial. Stroud, Sutton.

Revell, L. 2010. Ways of Being Roman: Discourses of Identity in the Roman West. Oxford: Oxbow.

Segal, A.F. 2004. Life After Death: A History of the Afterlife in Western Religion. Doubleday.

Smelik, K. 1991. Writings from Ancient Israel. Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Smith, M.L.  (ed.), 2003. The Social Construction of Ancient Cities. Washington. Smithsonian Books.

Storey, G. (ed.) 2006. Urbanism in the Preindustrial World: Cross-Cultural

Approaches. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

Swaddline, J. 1999. The Ancient Olympic Games. London: British Museum Press.

Taylor, J.H. 2001. Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

van der Toorn, K. 1994. From her Cradle to her Grave: the Role of Religion in the Life of the Israelite and the Babylonian Woman. Sheffield: JSOT Press

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 156

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ina Berg Unit coordinator

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