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Current issues in the archaeology of the frontier regions of the Roman Empire


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree obtained;

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


The Roman conquest ushered in major changes in society, technology and organisational complexity as well as altering the nature of people’s relationship with material culture. In this course we examine the life cycle of artefacts, ranging from extraction to final discard.
In the northern provinces in particular the conquest introduces massive changes in material culture, reflecting not only the increasing demands of the military apparatus, but also changing attitudes to possessions, their use and their disposal on the part of the local population.

We will explore the impact of technology and expanding horizons, the role of consumers in the distribution of goods and the underlying continuity of religious practices in the final discard of particular artefacts. Topics chosen will relate to ongoing departmental research, both national and international.
Debate in the provincial Roman community as expressed in the annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference and its publications informs the theoretical background to this programme.

The course is open to RMA-students, who will be given a different focus for their assignments, with an emphasis on theoretical and methodological approaches. They will be expected to lead a session, or introduce one of the guest lecturers, leading the closing discussion.

Course objectives

After completing this course, the student

  • will begin to understand the complexity of Roman materiality in North-Western Europe and beyond;

  • will be familiar with significant sites and materials;

  • will be acquainted with the recent theoretical debate;

  • has gained writing skills;

  • has gained presentation skills.

For RMA-students, in addition to the above:

  • Ability to assess literature in context;

  • Ability to contextualise and assess discussion, and give feedback to the participants;

  • Increase interdisciplinary awareness.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 × 2 hours of lectures, including group feedback (2 ects);

  • Ca. 210 pages of literature (1 ects);

  • Assignments (ca. 3,000 words: final paper = 2,000 words + weekly assignments) (2 ects).


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

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Assignment results.

Assessment deadline

The assignments have weekly deadlines, the last deadline being 1 week after the last class.

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

Reading list

The reading list will be posted on Blackboard.


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

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

Contractonderwijs: all information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).

Contact information

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