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Sicily in Antiquity (keuzevak)


Compulsory attendance


Prerequisites and restrictions

GLTC: This course is open to BA2 students of GLTC.
Archaeology: Students must have completed the propedeuse.


Throughout Antiquity, the island of Sicily attracted settlers from various cultural backgrounds: Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans have all left their mark on the island. The course will present students with the archaeological evidence of this fascinating melting pot of cultures, concerning especially its developments from the early Archaic to the late Roman Imperial period. The material remains of Western Greek colonies will be studied along with Phoenician trading posts, Hellenistic fortresses and late Roman villas.

Furthermore, literary sources will be discussed in the course to highlight the social, political and economic significance of Sicily’s material remains for the ancient contemporaries
A detailed course plan will be provided later on.
For GLTC students the course will be the preparation for an excursion to Sicily that will include ancient sites from Greek as well as Roman times (e.g. Syracuse, Selinunte and Piazza Amerina will be visited).

Learning outcomes

Students will acquire a basic knowledge of ancient Sicily’s cities, buildings and monuments in view of archaeological and literary evidence. The course will also introduce students to the methodological problems and the information value pertaining to archaeological material on the one hand and the literary sources on the other.

The excursion to Sicily for GLTC students will have various related aims: students will practice their (English) presentation skills; they will make themselves familiar with the modern Southern Italian way of life; and they will gain practical experience in travelling through the South of Italy in particular. Cooperation and teamwork (both scholarly and social) are some of the most important objects of this excursion.

Mode of delivery

  • Lectures with active participation;

  • Excursion (for GLTC students).


  • GLTC students will (1) give oral presentations (in English), for which they will be working together in groups; they will also (2) write a paper of ca 3,500 words (in Dutch or English), which they will have to submit before the date of departure. The topics will be distributed during the first sessions of the course.

  • BA Archaeology students will write two 2-3,000-word essays in English.
    The topics will be distributed during the first sessions of the course.

Reading list

  • F. Coarelli & M. Torelli, Sicilia. Roma et. al.: Laterza (1997);

  • T. J. Dunabain, The western Greeks: The History of Sicily and South Italy from the Foundation of the Greek Colonies to 480 B.C..Oxford: Clarendon Press (1948);

  • M. I. Finley, Ancient Sicily. London: Chatto & Windus (1979);

  • V. Hinz, Der Kult von Demeter und Kore auf Sizilien und in der Magna Graecia. Wiesbaden: Reichert (1998);

  • R. Holloway, The Archaeology of Ancient Sicily. London u.a.: Routledge (1991);

  • C. Lehmler, Syrakus unter Agathokles und Hieron II. Die Verbindung von Kultur und Macht in einer Hellenistischen Metropole. Frankfurt am Main: Verl. Antike (2005);

  • K. Lomas, Rome and the Western Greeks 350 BC – AD 200: Conquest and Acculturation in Southern Italy. London et. al.: Routledge (1993);

  • I. Malkin, “Herakles and Melqart: Greeks and Phoenicians in the Middle Ground” in: E. S. Gruen (ed.), Cultural Borrowings and Ethnic Appropriations in Antiquity. Stuttgart: Steiner (2005) 238 ff.;

  • D. Mertens, Städte und Bauten der Westgriechen. Von der Kolonisation bis zur Krise um 400 vor Christus. München: Hirmer (2006);

  • G. Pugliese Carratelli, The Western Greeks: Classical Civilization in the Western Mediterranean [… exhibition at Palazzo Grassi]. London: Thames and Hudson (1996);

  • C. Smith & J. Serrati, Sicily from Aeneas to Augustus: New Approaches in Archaeology and History. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press (2000);

  • M. Vonderstein, Der Zeuskult bei den Westgriechen. Wiesbaden: Reichert (2006);

  • R. J. A. Wilson, Piazza Armerina. London et. al.: Granada (1983);

  • R. J. A. Wilson, Sicily under the Roman Empire: The Archaeology of a Roman Province, 36 BC – AD 535. Warminster: Aris and Phillips (1990).

Time schedule

Course schedule details can be found in the bachelor 3 time schedule.