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Current Issues in the Archaeology of the Frontier Regions of the Roman Empire


Admission requirements

  • Admission to the Master Archaeology programme, or equivalent;

  • Preferably BA2-course The Roman Frontier obtained, or else basic knowledge of provincial Roman archaeology. If in doubt, please contact the lecturer (see ‘Contact’ 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. The case studies presented 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 forms the theoretical background to this course.

Course set-up

Lectures and guest lectures, ending with discussion. Students will be given specific literature to read before each class. This will be used to formulate relevant questions. These questions will be used for the discussion at the end of each class. Each student will choose a subject for the final assignment, and will present the preliminary results of this during classes.

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.


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

Mode of instruction

Lectures, including student presentations.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the mode of instruction may change before or during the course.

Course load

  • 14 × 2 hours of lectures (2 ec);

  • Assignments (3 ec).

Assessment method

Average grade of the group assignments.

A retake of the individual assignments is not possible, but the individual grades can be compensated.

The assignments have strict weekly deadlines.

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

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the assessment method may change before or during the course.

Reading list

The reading list will be posted on Brightspace.


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.

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

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).


For more information about this course, please contact dr. ir. M.J. (Mark) Driessen.


Compulsory attendance.