This module surveys seven hundred years of Roman rule in the region between the Euphrates river and the Mediterranean, from its annexation by Pompey the Great in 64 BC to the Muslim conquest in the seventh century AD. We look at the impact of Rome and its administrative systems on local societies and economies, examining many disparate sources of information: from calendars to pottery; from taxes to temple building; and from art and civic architecture to cult activities and codes of dress. The students will engage with the various debates surrounding these forms of evidence, and what they tell us about the cultural dynamics in a Roman province. Key themes explored are: the relationship between institutions and social identities, technologies of production; and the social functions of consumption.
Students will gain knowledge and understanding of the impact of Roman imperialism on a distinct part of the Mediterranean through texts, material culture and social theory; be able to identify objects and buildings and comprehend the technologies involved in their production and the resources employed; and to think critically about the value of various forms of evidence, literary and material, and how this evidence can be used. They will gain an understanding of how geography and resources have shaped settlement in the Near East, and how a variety of sources (historical narratives, inscriptions, architecture, art, coins, pottery etc.) can be employed in the construction of the social and economic history of Roman provinces, and the limitations of these sources.