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Frontiers of the Roman Empire


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree obtained;

  • Basic familiarity with provincial Roman archaeology. If in doubt, please contact the lecturer (see below).


The Roman Limes, i.e. the frontier and its supporting installations, includes some of the most spectacular archaeological monuments in northern Europe. Barriers, such as Hadrian’s Wall, and forts such as the Saalburg, Novae, Udhruh and Lambaesis link the nations of modern Europe, North Africa and parts of the Near East with a common past, and provide the basis for the current application for UNESCO world heritage status.
A particular focus of the course will be the special characteristics of the North Sea frontier. In these peripheral regions – especially the North-Western provinces – the long-term military presence is the dominant factor in the archaeological record. We will investigate various aspects of the current debate on Roman frontiers and frontier communities as well as the role of the army in the development of provincial structures and its interaction with the indigenous inhabitants of the region. Topics will vary from year to year, but will include the structure and purpose of the frontier lines, issues of gender, migration, and relations with communities beyond the frontier.

Course objectives

  • Basic understanding of the complexity of the Roman frontier systems in North-Western Europe and beyond;

  • Familiarity with significant sites and excavations;

  • Acquaintance with the recent theoretical debate;

  • Writing skills.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lecture + feedback (1 ects);

  • 360 pages of literature (1,5 ects);

  • Assignments (3,000 words) (2,5 ects).


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

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Participation (10%);

  • Assignments (30%);

  • Final essay (60%).

Assessment deadline

The assignments have weekly deadlines, the last one being the day before the last class.

Reading list

The reading list will be posted on Blackboard.


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

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact mw. dr. C. van Driel-Murray.