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The archaeology of ancient religions: Paganism, Judaism, Christianity


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Degree students (including Dutch BA graduates): BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.

SAP and Exchange Students: BA degree. Admission only after formal application.


In 2013, Blackwell will publish a Companion Handbook on the Archaeology of Roman Religion while simultaneously Oxford UP will present an Encyclopaedia of Bible and Archaeology. This shows that, apparently, for scholars of ancient religions, archaeology is a special category.
At the same time, religion is an important framework of interpretation for all archaeologists; and one they tend to struggle with.

In this course we will bring archaeology and religion together and approach the subject from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, mainly focusing on the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
The first part of the course will provide the students with some important (theoretical) debates in the field, presented on the basis of detailed case studies by national and international specialists.
The second part of the course will focus on the eastern Mediterranean in particular and pay attention to, amongst other themes, the interaction between Judaism and Hellenism, the Jewish diaspora and nascent Early Christian material culture.

Course objectives

  • Understanding of the theoretical questions involved when studying ancient religions on the basis of material culture;

  • Knowledge of and insight in the selected case studies presented in class;

  • Ability to conduct independent research on a specific topic, related to the theme of the course.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 classes (2 ects);

  • Essay, including literature (3 ects).


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Lecture and assignments, including presentations by students.

Assessment method

  • Presentation;

  • Assignment.

Assessment deadline

Assignments need to have been handed in by the start of the next block.

Reading list

To be announced.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

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

Contractonderwijs: all information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr M.J. Versluys or dr T.D. Stek.