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CCC: Cultural Contact in the Hellenistic World


Admission requirements

Required for all Research Master Students


Following the conquest of Alexander the Great in the 4th c. B.C.E., and continued by the Roman Empire for another number of centuries, contacts between the various civilizations of the Mediterranean (Greece, Rome, Egypt, Asia Minor) with the farther Middle East (Parthia, India, Mesopotamia) led to a high degree of cultural interaction throughout and formed what is now – for better or worse – is called “Hellenism”. “Old” traditions met new challenges and developed strategies of resistance and adaptation (e.g., Egypt, Judaism). A comparative presentation and discussion of 11 key phenomena guided by experts in the respective fields reflect on forms and foundations of “Hellenization and Romanization of the East” and the “Orientalization of the West”.

Course objectives

  • the student will be made familiar with various regional variants of contacts between “Greek” and “Oriental” cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean;

  • the student will be able to critically assess modern scholarly interpretations of such “Hellenisms”;

  • the student will have the opportunity to connect his or her own expertise from previous studies to come to a better understanding of theancient world as a world of cultural contacts and exchange;

  • the student will be made familiar with fundamental sources (texts, inscriptions, elements of material culture) as examples of cultural contacts and learn how to critically use them in order to form his or her own explanations of the problem;

  • the student will be encouraged to compare the phenomenon of ancient cultural contacts with other forms of blending cultures in history;

  • the student will have the opportunity to work out and present a case study of her or his choice.



Mode of instruction

Seminar style classes with individual study of scholarly literature, student presentations and end paper.

Assessment method

Active participation in class work is expected, end paper will be graded.


Blackboard will be used to distribute course materials and exchange information.

Reading list

Will be made available by individual session chairs via Blackboard.



Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.


Prof. dr. Jürgen K. Zangenberg (LUIRS, course coordinator)

Students are also advised to be in contact with their respective MA track leader and a member of the academic staff who can function as supervisor for the end paper (further information will be given in the first meeting)