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There will be two hours of teaching per week, consisting of either two 1-hour lectures or, in some weeks, a 1-hour lecture and a 1-hour seminar.

Classes will commence in week 2 of term 1. There will be no classes for this module in week 1.


Mondays, 12.00-13.00, S0.11

Tuesdays, 10:00-11:00, H5.45 (Term 1, week 2); OC0.01 (Term 1, week 3 onwards)

Seminars will be held Tuesdays, 11.00-12.00, in R0.12 (Term 1) and S0.18 (Term 2)

All students are required to attend both classes or seminars each week. Attendance will be taken. If you have to miss a class or seminar because of illness please notify Josie by phone or email, preferably before the class takes place.

Term 1 begins with a chronological survey of developments, including Roman relations with two powerful eastern states, those of the Parthians and their successors, the Sasanians, and emphasises the growing importance of the region in Roman strategies. It then moves on to examine the political makeup of the region: the administrative provinces; ‘client’ kingdoms such as that of the Herodian dynasty; and the hierarchy of cities, taking into consideration ways in which the Roman authorities manipulated these political entities, and why they might have done so. It concludes with the ways in which Roman rule affected transport and communications and the marking of time.

Term 2 deals more exclusively with archaeological evidence and material culture. The first part deals with economic matters. What distinguished a city from a village? Whose needs did the cities serve? What was the relationship between nomads and villagers? We look at some remote areas of Syria where ancient landscapes and villages have survived almost intact. We then survey the evidence for long distance trade: luxury goods from the east, and Mediterranean products. The second part deals with social matters: urban society and the question of identities in the Roman Near East. It considers the roles that architectural and artistic styles and the various media used (stone sculpture, mosaic, painting) had to play in the formation of identities.

We then turn to religion, another important signifier of identity. How different from Graeco-Roman norms were the temples of the region? What do they reveal about ritual activities? In the fourth century Christianity was adopted as the empire’s official religion, but paradoxically doctrinal differences among Near Eastern Christians may have weakened imperial control there. Finally, we examine the role of the army. Did it contribute to ‘Romanization’? Was it effective in defending the provinces, or were armies stationed in the east mainly for other reasons?