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BA Archaeology

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Living and Dying in the Ancient World

Unit code SALC10602
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.

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.

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


Assessment methods

Portfolio  100%


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 self-reflection that is linked to the final Portfolio submission gives students the opportunity to reflect upon their improvement throughout the semester, and to highlight those areas that need further development.



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
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ina Berg Unit coordinator

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