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A Global Revolution? Change and Innovation in Afro-Eurasia in the Hellenistic and Roman Period (250 BC – AD 250)


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master Archaeology programme.


From around 250 BC onwards we witness an unprecedented intensification of connectivity all across Afro-Eurasia. People in the period clearly were aware of what they were living through.
In his World History, written in ca. 150 BC, Polybius (Histories 1.3) remarks: “From this point onwards history becomes one organic whole: the affairs of Italy and Africa are connected with those of Asia and of Greece, and all events bear a relationship and contribute to a single end”.
The period 250 BC – AD 250 indeed set a decisive stage in the interconnection of the different Afro-Eurasian spheres. As a result, the oikumene is characterised by expanded geographies, heightened cultural interconnectedness, dramatic changes and enduring innovations more than ever before. Some even regard this period as Europe’s first Modernity.

In this course we will explore this defining and fascinating half-millennium in world history in depth. Our route in are the scholarly debates on the two concepts that have traditionally been used as explanans for most of this change and innovation: Hellenisation and Romanisation. Critically discussing these (Eurocentric) concepts, and exploring what they might still bring us, is an important exercise that goes to the very heart of the disciplines of Classics, Ancient History and Classical Archaeology - and of much of cultural history as a whole.

Throughout the course we will constantly confront approaches from Ancient History, ultimately based on the written sources, with approaches from archaeology, ultimately based on the remains of material culture. Our case studies will take you from the western confines of the Roman Empire to China and from the Caucasus to North-Africa. Fasten your seatbelts!

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of and insight into the archaeology of Afro-Eurasia in Classical Antiquity, i.e., the main areas and sites referred to in the literature and in the lectures;

  • Knowledge of and insight into globalisation and acculturation processes in Afro-Eurasia in Classical Antiquity;

  • Understanding of the problems related to the notions of Hellenisation and Romanisation and their historical afterlife;

  • Ability to critically assess specialist literature with regard to both historical and archaeological approaches and theoretical background;

  • Ability to report such assessments in written format;

  • Ability to independently set up and carry out a small research project.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Discussion.

Course load

  • 7 × 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 210 pages of literature (1,5 ec);

  • Short written assignments (1 ec);

  • Final essay of 2,500 words (+/- 10%) (1,5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Short (weekly) written assignments (20%);

  • Final essay (80%);

  • Participation in discussion (0.5 bonus, used to round up final grade).

Prior to class, students read the assigned literature and submit discussion points. These must be submitted 2 days before class. In order to pass the course, all written assignments have to be turned in on time.

Compensation is possible according to the OER (Onderwijs- en Examenreglement / Course and Examination Regulations).
There is no retake for the written assignments, only for the final essay (with new topic) if the first attempt has been taken seriously.
If you fail the retake for the final essay, any passes for the short written assignments will no longer count (i.e., grades cannot be used the next year).

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

Late submission will result in a lowering of the grade (0.5 point per day).

Reading list

The reading list will be made available on Brightspace or through e-mail.


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.

  • 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. M.J. (Miguel John) Versluys.


Compulsory attendance.