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BA Latin and French

Year of entry: 2020

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Course unit details:
The Hellenistic World: History and Archaeology

Unit code CAHE34322
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics & Ancient History
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


From Alexander’s death to the Roman conquest of the eastern Mediterranean, this course examines the political and socio-economic conditions that defined the last three centuries BC. This is a world that expands from western Greece to Central Asia with constant fluctuation of its extent and complex patterns of interaction amongst different communities. The approach will be geographic and thematical: What is the nature of court culture in Macedon, Seleucid Asia and Ptolemaic Egypt? What does material culture reveal about Attalid and Bactrian identity? What happens to the old cities of the Greek world and the relationship between city and citizen? By focusing on warfare, economy, religious practice, art, women, luxury, the underclass, fusion and hybridity, Rome and the Hellenistic world, the course explores change and continuity in Hellenistic societies. It requires engagement with literary, epigraphic and archaeological evidence and introduces the students to long-standing debates and mainstream methodologies in the study of the Hellenistic world.


  • To be introduced to:
  1. -the historical narrative and socio-political developments of the period the course covers
  2. the material and visual culture of the Hellenistic world
  3. the key scholarly problems and methods in the study of the Hellenistic world, including issues of identity – ancient and modern –, debates over ‘east’ and ‘west’ and problems studying and preserving cultural heritage
  • To learn how to examine the visual and material properties of architectural monuments and other types of objects (e.g. pottery, sculpture, small bronzes and terracottas)
  • To learn how to engage with and interpret the relevant textual sources
  • To learn how to apply an integrated and inter-disciplinary approach in studying the Ancient World by combining textual with material evidence



Topics may include: Macedon and court culture, Egypt and kingship ideology, Attalid self- representation and art, Seleucid cities, Bactria and identity in Central Asia, Graeco-Macedonian identity and ‘otherness’, key political developments in the early, middle and late Hellenistic periods, inter- and intra-city interaction, warfare, the Hellenistic polis, literary sources for the Hellenistic period,  royal palaces and urban planning, elite and non-elite domestic space, economy and commerce (Delos and Rhodes), women, religion, underclass, Hellenistic luxury and Rome, art


Teaching and learning methods

  • 2 x 1-hour lectures per week;
  • 1 x 1-hour seminar per week;
  • 1 dedicated consultation hour per week;
  • Blackboard: will be used as a repository for course materials and digitised readings, as well as a source of relevant web links, etc.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand how to analyse relevant types of evidence
  • Comprehend what shaped the Hellenistic world and its societies
  • To be able to contextualise the Hellenistic period into the history of the Mediterranean & Asia more broadly
  • Understand how to select and apply relevant theoretical concepts and models for interpretation and analysis
  • Understand how to examine archaeological evidence for historical research

Intellectual skills

  • Conducting independent research
  • Constructing and presenting arguments  and analysing evidence
  • Presenting observations and own opinion in a clear and concise manner and in a professional manner both orally and in writing


Practical skills

  • Engage with texts and objects
  • Manage time effectively
  • Engage in critical discussion and debate

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Process, organise and summarize large bodies of information in a timely manner
  • Present ideas, information, argument in a coherent manner and in well-written form
  • Communicating own opinion and findings with confidence
  • Being effective as a team member


Employability skills

Analytical skills
The course involves a large number of important employment skills, most notably an ability to analyse and examine a large amount of often difficult information, an ability to see both sides of an argument, the ability to synthesise an argument in a cogent form, the ability to retrieve information from complex sources and present it in a compelling and cogent fashion.

Assessment methods



Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Commentary (selection out of textual or archaeological evidence)









2.5 hours





Feedback methods



Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback


Oral feedback



Recommended reading

Austin, M.M.  Hellenistic World (Cambridge and New York, 2nd ed. 2006)

P. Bilde (ed.), Aspects of Hellenistic Kingship (Aarhus 1996).

Bugh, G. R. (ed.) The Cambridge companion to the Hellenistic world (Cambridge 2006).

Erskine, A. (ed.) Companion to the Hellenistic World (Oxford 2005).

Pollitt, J.J. Hellenistic Art (Cambridge 1986)

Kuhrt, A. and S. Sherwin-White, From Samarkhand to Sardis (London 1993),

Stewart, A. Hellenistic Art (Cambridge 2014)

Walbank, F. W. The Cambridge ancient history. Vol.7. Pt.1, The Hellenistic world. (Cambridge 1984)


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maria Kopsacheili Unit coordinator

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