Greek and Roman Archaeology

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will demonstrate a basic comprehension of the most significant historical developments and material cultural elements of Ancient Greece and Rome from the Aegean Bronze Age (3rd Millennium B.C.E.) to the beginning of Late Antiquity (4th century B.C.E.). Critical thinking and elaboration of the notions discussed in class is highly encouraged and reccomended.


As this is a foundation course, no previous knowledge of the ancient world is required.

Teaching methods

The course consists of 24 lectures, all provided with PowerPoint presentations and, when necessary, other visual supporting materials. One or more lectures may consist of a fieldtrip to an archaeological museum and/or site.
The instructor will be available to provide clarification on questions concerning the classes. Exact office hours will be provided during the course. Presentations and additional teaching material will be available for download.


This class is an introductory course to the archaeology, art history, and material culture of the Greek and Roman worlds from the Aegean Bronze Age to Constantine and the beginning of Late Antiquity.
Particular attention is placed on three subjects. The first one is the diachronic development of Greek and Roman civilizations and arts within their specific socio-cultural and political settings. The second is the dynamic legacy of Classical antiquity in the contemporary world. The third is the study of identity formations and cultural entanglements in the ancient Mediterranean from prehistory to the late Roman period. This third subject emphasizes the crucial contribution of diversity and interaction for the development of human cultures and societies.

Lecture 1: Introduction to Greek and Roman Archaeology
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 1–17; (and) Renfrew and Bahn 2014
Lecture 2. Greek Prehistory Part 1: Minoan Civilization
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 20–24, 32–43, 49–52; (and/or) Rutter,
Lecture 3. Greek Prehistory Part 2: Mycenaean Civilization
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 43–46, 52–59; (and/or) Rutter,
Lecture 4. Cultural Narratives: Entangled Things in the Prehistoric Aegean
Readings: J.B. Rutter,; (and) Vitale 2016
Lecture 5. Greece from the 12th to the 8th Century B.C.E.: From the End of the Mycenaean Palaces to the Rise of the Polis
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 69–96; (and) Rutter,
Lecture 6. The 7th Century B.C.E. and Greek Religious Architecture
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 131–151, 153–177; (and/or) Antonaccio 1994
Lecture 7. Archaic Greece: Sculpture, Architecture, and Vase Painting
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 180–208
Lecture 8. Classical Greece Part 1: Olympia and Aegina
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 236–246
Lecture 9. Classical Greece Part 2: Athenian Public Space and Architecture during the 5th Century B.C.E.
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 99–109, 246–253
Lecture 10. Classical Greece Part 3: The Acropolis of Athens in Its Socio-Political Context
Additional article to be assigned
Lecture 11. The Fourth Century in Greece: Archaeology and Identity
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 288–340
Lecture 12. Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Period
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 343–361
Lecture 13. Cultural Narratives: Greek Culture and the Mediterranean Worlds, 3rd to 2nd Centuries B.C.E.
Readings: Stansbury-O’Donnell 2015, pp. 380–387; (and) Additional article to be assigned
Lecture 14. Italy before Rome: Magna Graecia and Etruria
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. xxi–xlvii
Lecture 15. Rome from Foundation to the End of the Republican Period
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 1–59
Lecture 16. Augustus and the Early Empire
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 61–101
Lecture 17. The Julio-Claudian Dynasty
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 103–119
Lecture 18. The Civil War, the Flavian Dynasty, and Nerva
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 121–137
Lecture 19. Pompeii and Its Surrounding in the 1st Century C.E.
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 139–151
Lecture 20. The High Empire 1: Trajan
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 153–169
Lecture 21. The High Empire 2: From Hadrian to Commodus
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 171–229
Lecture 22. The Severan Dynasty
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 232–245
Lecture 23. From the Crisis of the 3rd Century C.E. to Constantine and Early Christian Art
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 263–306
Lecture 24. Part 1: Cultural Narratives: Romanization and the Mediterranean Worlds
Readings: Kleiner 2010, pp. 247–261; (and) Alcock 2001
Lecture 24. Part 2: Archaeological Dialogues. Interactive Discussion of Relevant Slides and Subjects Presented throughout the Course.



  • Greek Archaeology and Art History:
    Stansbury-O’Donnell, M.D., A History of Greek Art. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell, 2015. [ISBN: ISBN 978-1-4443-5015-9].
  • Roman Archaeology and Art History:
    Kleiner, F.S., A History of Roman Art. Boston: Wadsworth, 2010. [ISBN: 978-0-495-90987-3].

Other Readings:

  • Alcock 2001
    Alcock, S., “Vulgar Romanization and the Dominance of Elites,” in S. Keav and N. Terrenato (eds.), Italy and the West. Comparative Issues in Romanization. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2001, pp. 226–230. [ISBN 1842170422].
  • Antonaccio 1994
    Antonaccio, C. M., “Contesting the Past: Tomb Cult, Hero Cult, and Epic in Early Greece,” AJA 98, pp. 389–410.
  • Renfrew and Bahn 2014
    Renfrew, C. and Bahn P., Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice (Sixth ed.). London: Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2014, pp. 12–19. [ISBN 978-0-500-29021-7].
  • Rutter
    Aegean Prehistoric On-Line Lessons:
  • Vitale 2016
    Vitale, S. “Cultural Entanglements on Kos during the Late Bronze Age: A Comparative Analysis of Minoanisation and Mycenaeanisation at the ‘Serraglio’, Eleona, and Langada,” in E. Gorogianni, P. Pavúk, L. Girella (eds.), Beyond Thalassocracies. Understanding Processes of Minoanisation and Mycenaeanisation in the Aegean. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2016, pp. 75-93. [ISBN 978-1-78570-203-7].
  • Further materials may be provided during the lectures (see Syllabus).

Assessment methods

Grades are based on the combinati on of three factors:  attendance and active participation in class, ability to discuss relevant slides and topics that were mentioned during the course (Lecture 24, Part 2), and a final written test.

Specifically, grades will be determined as follows:
– Attendance and Active Participation in Class 20%
– Archaeological Dialogues (Oral Discussion during Lecture 24, Part 2) 30%
– Final Written Exam 50%

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Università di Pisa
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