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Byzantine archaeology



This course will explore various aspects of the transformation of Late Antiquity into Byzantium (ca. 300-900 C.E.) based on archaeological evidence. How did the Late Roman world survive in the East? And what was ‘Byzantium’?
There will be a focus on the transformation of both towns and countryside, from the empire’s new capital Constantinople to rural settlements in Jordan, Syria and the Mediterranean.

Apart from famous buildings and landmarks such as the Hippodrome and the Hagia Sophia in modern Istanbul, attention will be paid to trade and economy, power systems and everyday life conditions. Furthermore, the rise of new religions (Christianity and Islam) will be treated, as well as their impact on the cultural transformation and interaction of people in the Near East and the Mediterranean, based on archaeological evidence.

The course starts with an introduction to Byzantine archaeology by the lecturer. The successive meetings will include a short presentation by students on themes which will be explored during the seminar.

Course objectives

After this course students:

  • have obtained primary knowledge about the political, religious and cultural changes that took place in the Near East and in the Mediterranean between 300-900 C.E.;

  • can reflect upon the key archaeological data on which these conclusions are based;

  • have the ability to critically reflect on both data and their interpretation in discussions and in writing.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA3 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Seminar with short presentations by students.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7x2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Final essay of 2,500 words + abstract of 500 words (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • Presentation + short abstract of 500 words (40%);

  • Active participation in the class discussions (10%);

  • Final essay of 2,500 words (50%).

A retake is only possible for the final essay and only if all other requirements have been met.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA3 examination schedule.

Reading list

The reading list will be published on BlackBoard prior to the first meeting.


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.

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

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr. J.A.C. Vroom.


Compulsory attendance.