nl en

Advanced Studies on a Global Revolution: Change and Innovation in Afro-Eurasia in the Hellenistic and Roman Period (250 BC – AD 250)


Admission requirements

Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme.


From around 250 BC onwards we witness an unprecedented intensification of connectivity all across Afro-Eurasia. People in the period clearly were aware of what they were living through. In his World History, for instance, written in ca. 150 BC, Polybius (Histories 1.3) remarks: “From this point onwards history becomes one organic whole: the affairs of Italy and Africa are connected with those of Asia and of Greece, and all events bear a relationship and contribute to a single end”.

The period 250 BC – AD 250 indeed set a decisive stage in the interconnection of the different Afro-Eurasian spheres. As a result, the oikumene is characterised by expanded geographies, heightened cultural interconnectedness, dramatic changes and enduring innovations more than ever before. Some even regard this period as the world’s first Modernity.

In this course we will explore this defining and fascinating half-millennium in world history in depth, and from an Afro-Eurasian perspective. Our starting points are the scholarly debates on the two concepts that have traditionally been used as explanans for most of this change and innovation: Hellenisation and Romanisation.

Critically discussing these (Eurocentric) concepts, and exploring what they might still bring us, is an important exercise that goes to the very heart of the disciplines of Classics, Ancient History and Classical Archaeology - and of much of cultural history as a whole.
These debates will be illustrated by a wide variety of case studies that will take you from the western confines of the Roman Empire to China and from the Caucasus to North-Africa. Fasten your seatbelts!

Course set-up

Lectures will have to be prepared by the reading of (and making assignments on) selected literature, and are always followed by a critical discussion on both the content of the lecture and this literature in tandem.

Course objectives

  • Advanced knowledge of and insight into the archaeology of Afro-Eurasia between 250 BC and 250 AD, i.e. the main areas and sites referred to in the literature and in the lectures;

  • Advanced knowledge of and insight into globalisation and acculturation processes in Afro-Eurasia between 250 BC and 250 AD, and the ability to formulate a critical opinion on these debates;

  • Advanced understanding of the problems related to the notions of Hellenisation and Romanisation and their historical afterlife, and the ability to apply this in a multidisciplinary context;

  • Advanced ability to critically assess specialist literature with regard to both historical and archaeological approaches and theoretical background;

  • Advanced ability to report such assessments in written format;

  • Advanced ability to independently set up and carry out a small research project, and the ability to come up with original creative approaches.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Discussion.

Course load

  • 7 × 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 210 pages of literature (1,5 ec);

  • Short written assignments (1 ec);

  • Final essay of 2,500 words (+/- 10%) (1,5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Short (weekly) written assignments (20%);

  • Final essay (80%);

  • Participation in discussion (0.5 bonus, used to round up final grade).

Compensation is possible according to the OER (Onderwijs- en Examenreglement / Course and Examination Regulations).

There is no retake for the written assignments, only for the final essay (with new topic) if the first attempt has been taken seriously.
If you fail the retake for the final essay, any passes for the short written assignments will no longer count (i.e., grades cannot be used the next year).

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Late submission of the paper will result in a lowering of the grade (0.5 point per day).

Reading list

The reading list will be made available on Brightspace or through e-mail.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time. The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. M.J. (Miguel John) Versluys.


Compulsory attendance.