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Advanced studies in Hellenism in Eurasia



The concept of Romanisation, with its suggestion of Romans disseminating culture from the centre of their empire to the more peripheral parts has come in for a lot of criticism in post-colonial days. Several alternatives have been offered – not always quite satisfactory, as a majority remained grounded in a dichotomy between Roman on the one hand, and native on the other.
However, different attempts to supersede this dichotomy are underway.

The comparable paradigm of Hellenisation has never been discussed in a way that could match the liveliness of the debate on Romanisation. But the 2 lecturers in this course, classical archaeologist Versluys and ancient historian Naerebout, have both been active in opening up new venues in looking at, and problematising, Hellenisation.
While it is undeniable that cultural phenomena that ultimately derive from Greek models proved to be attractive for many groups that come into contact with such phenomena – especially (but not exclusively) since the days of Alexander the Great who conquered large slices of the non-Greek world and of the Roman Republic which in its turn conquered large slices of the Greek world – the real challenge lies in explaining what is actually going on when people start doing things ‘the Greek way’. Or is it their way of doing Greek? And what are we actually referring to when we label something as ‘Greek’?

By means of a number of case studies, ranging from the kingdom of Commagene in eastern Anatolia, by way of Egypt, to the area of modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan, we will seek to understand, by the confrontation of multiple possible interpretations, what drives along cultural change.
There is no formal entry test, but at the start of the course students will be asked to reflect explicitly upon their individual understanding of what Hellenisation is.

Course objectives

General learning objectives:
The ability to:

  • independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • independently identify and select archaeological and historical sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  • give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  • participate in current debates in the specialisation;

For RMA-students, in addition to the above:
The ability to:

  • independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  • participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation:

  • Knowledge and comprehension of the archaeology of western and central Eurasia in the Graeco-Roman period, focusing particularly on the following:
    • unification, globalisation and acculturation processes in the Graeco-Roman world, 400 BC-400 AD;
    • notions of ‘hybridity’;
    • insight into the recent large-scale debates in the field with respect to ‘Hellenisation’ and ‘Romanisation’;

For RMA-students, in addition to the above:

  • Insight into the comparative method and the application of socio-academic methods to the archaeology and history of the ancient world.

The student:

  • Will be aware of the debates surrounding culture contact and culture change in the ancient world;

  • Will be able to contribute to such debates by the analysis of specific cases and do so from a multidisciplinary perspective involving archaeology and ancient history, and their respective sources;

RMA-students will move beyond the analysis of case studies and will consider the debates from a theoretical standpoint: formulating a critique of existing theoretical stances and suggesting possible new departures.


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

Mode of instruction


Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of seminar;

  • 26 hours of literature study;

  • 90 hours for research and writing a paper.

Assessment method

Written paper based on research in literature and primary sources (100%).

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

To be announced.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. M.J. Versluys.


MA-students of the History department and MA-students of the Archaeology department will follow part of this course together.