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Jerusalem - City of Grief and Glory


Admission requirements

This course is intended for students enrolled in the (Research) MAs Classics and Ancient Civilizations, Ancient History or Religious Studies.
In addition to the general rules set out for admission to the master program, students are required to hold a BA either in Classical Languages, Ancient History, Egyptology, Assyriology, Archaeology or Religious Studies. Minimum number of participants is 3, maximum is 20.


The city’s names say it all: For centuries Urushalimu, Yerushalayim, Ierusalem, Aelia Capitolina, Hierosolyma or Al-Quds have been destroyed, rebuilt, invented and re-invented. Glorious new cities were erected on layers of destruction, only to be destroyed again by external enemy or internal strife. The seminar is tracing Jerusalem’s development from its scant Bronze Age beginnings to the splendor of the Early Muslim period. We will re-visit what has remained – both in/on the ground and in cultural imagination – of the walls, palaces, houses, tombs and especially the sanctuaries of this unique city between the Ancient Near East and the Mediterranean World.

Course objectives


  • of the major political and historical developments of ancient Jerusalem through the Bronze and Iron Ages, the Hellenistic and Roman and the Byzantine and Early Muslim (Umayyad) period;

  • of the cultural profile of some exemplary places and regions within the cioty and its environs with their relevant heuristics;

  • of exemplary literary and non-literary sources relevant for reconstructing the ways of life and ideologies connected to Biblical, Greco-Roman, Jewish, early Christian and Erly Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem.


  • research: independent formulation of a complex research question, collecting materials, analyzing results, constructing arguments, formulating conclusions;

  • critical assessment of primary and secondary literature; oral presentation: the oral presentation will give a clear and well-argued interpretation of specific textual passages, making effective use of a handout and/or PowerPoint;

  • written presentation: the paper will offer a clear and well-structured presentation of original research.

  • the student must demonstrate his or her grasp of critical issues in recent scholarship, and assess recent scholarly contributions by confronting them with the original source material;

  • this course aims at active participation and preparation: the student demonstrates involvement in the topic by asking well-informed and constructive questions and making contributions to the collective progress, on the basis of antecedent independent preparation.

The requirements for MA and ResMA students are differentiated:

  • MA students may expect more help in choosing their topic, literature and research question, and when preparing their presentation (with handout). Their paper may consist of an assessment of the status quaestionis on a given topic.

  • ResMA students are expected to come up with their own original topic, literature and research question for the presentation (with handout). Their paper will have the more complex form of a scholarly report on a given issue discussed in current research. In addition to that, they will write a proposal / abstract for a paper to be held at a (fictitious) conference.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminar: lecture elements by instructor, assignments to students, presentations and discussions by students.

Assessment method

Assessment method

  • Assignments (report on research question and bibliography), for ResMA students also proposal for (fictitious) conference paper.

  • Oral presentation;

  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources and the formal requirements of the Reader Academic Skills CAC (2019) or Instructions from the program Ancient History (2022).


Written paper: 60 %
Oral presentation: 30 %
Assignments: 10%
The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor. Only the final paper can be re-taken.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.
There is no required reading before seminar starts. Relevant literature will be indicated via the Bright Space class module.
Recommended are:

Reading list

  • K. Galor / H. Bloedhorn, The Archaeology of Jerusalem. From the Origins to the Ottomans, New Haven / London 2013.

  • K. Galor, Finding Jerusalem. Archaeology between Science and Ideology, Oakland 2017.

  • K. Bieberstein, A Brief History of Jerusalem. From the Earliest Settlement to the Destruction of the City in AD 70, Wiesbaden 2017 (ADPV 47).

  • S. Weksler-Bdolah, Aelia Capitolina in the Roman Period in Light of Archaeological Research, Leiden / Boston 2020 (MnS HACA 432).

  • J. Van den Bent / T. Hart (eds.), Jeruzalem, Jeroesjalajiem, Al-Quds. De heilige stad door de eeuwen heen, Hilversum 2020 (Zenobiareeks 7).


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Arsenaal