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The Roman Frontier



Bachelor year 2.

Admission requirements

Bachelor Archaeology first year obtained.


The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the various aspects of the Roman Empire’s boundaries, be they physical, cultural, military, symbolic, territorial, or combinations thereof.
The goal is to build a strong and detailed knowledge of relevant case studies and archaeological sites near the edges of the Roman empire, grounded in a theoretical framework, including comparative approaches from the fields of history and anthropology.

The course will focus on the central debates in Roman Provincial Archaeology: what was the nature of the frontiers, what was the relationship between the Empire and local communities on the Empire’s edges and what happened with the frontiers once the Empire came to an end?
Specifically, Roman-period frontiers of North-Western Europe will be the focus of the course. You will get an overview of the Roman period – including related material culture - of the Netherlands, and place this research within a larger European framework.

Set-up of the course:
In the morning a topic and the overarching theme or period will be discussed. In the afternoon the course takes the form of site and museum visits, practical classes (hands-on) and discussion-based seminars, where students prepare assignments based on the topic of that morning or deal with a subject that is discussed during a guest lecture.

Course objectives

  • Insight into the chronology, material and cultures of the Roman frontiers, with particular focus on the Netherlands and Britain;

  • Insight into the major developments and the key issues and debates in the study of Roman frontiers;

  • Ability to engage closely and critically with important theoretical concepts such as identity, gender, ethnicity and ritual and apply them to the study of material culture of the frontiers;

  • Knowledge of and the ability to distinguish and identify the main types of material culture of the Roman frontier regions;

  • Ability to work in a team;

  • Capacity to use oral communication to describe and discuss theoretical constructs relating to artefacts;

  • Ability to learn independently.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Seminar with active learning (morning) and practical sessions in groups by means of assignments (afternoon).

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 24 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 12 hours of tutorial sessions (1 ec);

  • 12 hours of practical sessions (1 ec);

  • Ca. 300 pages of literature (2 ec).

Assessment method

Written examination (40%);
2 essays (60%).

There will be a two-part written examination. The first part will consist of a test which will examine your ability to (1) identify major sites and features of frontiers (2) identify the material culture associated with the frontier, and (3) identify and understand the epigraphy of the frontier.
You will be presented with 3 images in each category (a total of 9 images) and will be expected to write a brief technical commentary on 2 images in each category (a total of 6 commentaries). The aim of this part of the test is to test your knowledge of the frontier zone, identification of artefacts and ability to read Roman inscriptions. All sites, objects, and inscriptions used in the test will have featured in the course.
This section is worth 40% of the examination mark.
The second part are 2 short essays. In the essay section, you will be asked to select 2 essays out of 6 (each essay is worth 30%, so the total value of the essays is 60% of the exam mark).

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 examination schedule.

Reading list

Per meeting there will be 2 papers to read. The reading list will be distributed 2 weeks prior to the start of the class.
Make sure you are registered for this BlackBoard module in time.


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: 10 September 2018, 07:00 hrs
    Series 2: 7 January 2018, 07:00 hrs
    Series 3: 11 March 2018, 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 dr. T. (Tatiana) Ivleva.


Compulsory attendance.