Impact of an Empire

Academic year2019-2020                                                                    
Day(s)Tuesday and 2 Fridays
Number of meetings        9
Dates of all meetingsTuesday 31 March, 7, 14, 21, 28 April, 12, 19 May 2020

Friday 24 April 10.00-12.30 Workshop numismatics 
Friday 1 May 10.00-12.30 Museum visit 
LocationVrije Universiteit, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam
RoomWill be announced later, De Boeleaan 1105 (no 1105 at this map)
  • Dr. A.M.J. (Ton) Derks, Faculty of Humanities
  • Dr. J.G. (Joris) Aarts, Faculty of Humanities

Course Description

Impact of an Empire 3

The course not only offers an insight into various aspects of the Roman Empire, but also reflects on comparable phenomena in modern timesecturers

Content and course goals

This course is about the impact of the Roman Empire, which has been one of the greatest and most long-lasting Empires in world history. It emerged as early as the second century BCE and at its largest it stretched from the Scottish Highlands in the North to the Sahara desert in the South, and from the Atlantic coast in the West to Iraq in the East.

Within this huge territory an enormous diversity of tribes and groups with vastly different ethnic, linguistic and cultural backgrounds were living together. Now one of the key issues in this course is what the impact of the empire was on those pre-existing local communities. How did the change of rule change local affairs and lives of individual people at grass-roots level? In order to make sense of the enormous wealth of both archaeological and documentary evidence that is available, we will use an anthropological approach. In this sense, you might call this course interdisciplinary, as it makes use of the disciplines of archaeology, history and the social sciences. 

Just to prevent any possible misunderstanding on the meaning of the term ‘impact’ in the course title, it should be made clear that this course is NOT about the afterlife of Rome, that is, the impact of Rome on the later medieval and modern history of Europe, Africa and the Near East. However, we will invite you to reflect on current hot issues (such as identity, migration and violence) by considering the similarities and dissimilarities between our modern western society and the Roman world. We will use the Roman example as a way to critically reflect on contemporary society and consider comparison between the Roman world and the globalizing world we live in as an important tool to reach this course goal.

Subjects of the course’s lectures:

  • A black book of Roman imperialism
  • Government and patronage
  • The Roman economy
  • Urban and rural landscapes
  • Social identity and religion
  • Connectivity and the transfer of knowledge
  • Impact of empire: conclusion and discussion

Course book
The course book we will be using is Greg Woolf (ed.), 2003: The Cambridge illustrated history to the Roman world, Cambridge. It is imperative to have access to this book at the start of the course. Other reading material necessary for the assignments will be provided through Canvas.

Working formats and activities
Lectures, oral presentations, classroom discussions, research paper, responses, workshop, and museum visit. The course will be concluded with an individual paper.

Assessment methods
Details of the assessment methods are provided in the course manual.

Target group
Every student of the honours-trajectory except students of Archaeology, Classics and Ancient Studies