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Byzantine Archaeology


Admission requirements

This is a seminar with a limited amount of participants (max. 20 students), and is meant for Archaeology students exclusively.


This course explores various aspects of the transformative period from Late Antiquity to the Early Medieval era in the Mediterranean and the Near East, based on archaeological evidence. Its main topic will be the Early Byzantine world (ca. 300-900 C.E.).

Some important questions are: How much of the Late Roman world survived and what changed? What was "Byzantium", and how different was it from the Eastern Roman Empire and/or contemporary states?

These themes and questions will be explored utilising archaeology. The focus lies on the transformation of both towns and countryside, from the empire’s largest urban centres to rural settlements (among which Gortyn on Crete).

Apart from famous monuments and historic landmarks, attention will be paid to trade and economy, power systems and state formations. Furthermore, the rise and spread of new religions (Christianity and Islam) will be addressed. Above all, the impact on everyday life and its associated material culture is central and forms the basis throughout this course.

The course starts with an introduction to Byzantine archaeology. The successive meetings will include a short presentation by students on themes that will be explored during the classes in group discussions.

Course objectives

After this course, students

  • have obtained primary knowledge about the political, religious, socio-economic 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 BA2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar with student group presentations on set themes;

  • Reading list.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the mode of instruction may change before or during the course.

Course load

  • 6 x 3 or 4 hours of lectures, including presentations (1.5 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Final essay on a set research question (2,000 words) + abstract of 500 words (1.5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Presentation + assignments (among which a short abstract of 500 words) (40%);

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

  • Final essay of 2,000 words (50%).

All essays must be submitted through Turnitin or Brightspace, and only on-time Turnitin/Brightspace submissions count. A retake is only possible for the final essay, and only if all other requirements have been met and a serious and complete first final essay has been submitted.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 examination schedule.
Deadlines for assignments are included in the course syllabus.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the assessment method may change before or during the course.

Reading list

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


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • Start registration for the BA2 seminars:
    Series 1: 14 September 2020, 07:00 hrs
    Series 2: 11 January 2021, 07:00 hrs
    Series 3: 22 February 2021, 07:00 hrs

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. J.A.C. (Joanita) Vroom.


Attendance is not compulsory but strongly recommended.