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The archaeology of ancient religions: Paganism, Judaism, Christianity


Admission requirements

In addition to the general rules set out for admission to the Master program students are required to have a BA either in Religious Studies, Classical Languages, Ancient History, Egyptology, Assyriology or Archaeology.


Archaeology has become an indispensable source for the reconstruction of past cultures.
This course will approach the subject “archaeology and religion” from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, mainly focussing on the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The course will provide the student with some important (theoretical) debates in the field, the majority of the sessions will focus on various case studies from the wider Mediterranean region and pay attention to, amongst others, material remains of “pagan” religiosity (Celtic, Greek, Roman), the interaction between Judaism and Hellenism, the Jewish diaspora and nascent Early Christian material culture.

Course objectives

  • Understanding theoretical questions involved when studying ancient religions on the basis of material culture;

  • Knowledge of and insight in the selected case studies presented in the class;

  • Independent research on a specific topic, related to the theme of the course.


Please consult the timetable on the Classics and Ancient Civilizations website.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

Course Load

The total course load will be 140 hours, 24 hours will be spent for class attendance, the rest for reading the literature and preparing presentations and exams.

Assessment method

  • Presentation (40%)

  • Essay based on presentation (60%)

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average. Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the teacher.


Blackboard will be used as means of communication and to distribute study material.

Reading list

To be announced in class.


Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Prof. Dr. Jürgen K. Zangenberg:


  • Attendants who miss more than two sessions will have to repeat the course.

  • Minimum amount of participants: 3 students.