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The Archaeology of Athens and Attica


Introductory Description

Athens was undoubtedly the most important city of Classical Greece. Its ideological and material footprints resonate in the modern world through institutions such as democracy, the iconic images of the Parthenon, Greek statues, or
vases. This module will explore and consider interpretations of the archaeology of Athens and its surrounding polis of
Attica. The main chronological focus of this module will be the Archaic-Hellenistic periods, but we will also delve into
the preceding Early Iron age (ca. 1050-750 BCE) to consider the formation of the Greek polis (or city-state) system.

Principal Module Aims

This module is intended to provide a material complement to Democracy and Imperialism and a regional complement
to City of Rome. We will consider issues such as sacred and technological landscapes, power and display,
sustainability, economy and resource management, as well as regionalism and identity among others. This module
covers key archaeological material from Athens such as the Acropolis, the Agora and the Kerameikos, as well as sites
and material from around Attica such as Eleusis, Brauron, Marathon, Thorikos and Rhamnous. Finally, we will
consider material from less well-known sites, such as the quarries on Mts. Pentelikon, the rude Archaic graffiti on Mt.
Hymettos, the healing sanctuary of Amphiaraos and the colossal fortress of Agiosthena. By the end of this module,
students will have gained skills in reconstructing histories from things, they will have gained experience in synthesising
and presenting material remains and will be familiar with the relationship that landscape and ecology have on the
development of culture.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will gain a systematic introduction to and understanding of the complex and diverse nature of our
    evidence for interpreting the ancient city of Athens, and its surrounding region of Attica. They will also gain an
    appreciation of how the geographic setting, and topography of Athens helped to inform its place in the ancient
    Greek world.
  • Students will gain an ability to analyse and critically assess a range of primary and secondary source material.


  • One 2,500-3,000 word essay due in Summer term (60%).
  • 1hr Image Test to take place on the final day of class (40%).

This is a photograph of the Parthenon in Athens. It has been taken from the south east. Photograph by Conor Trainor