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Unit information: Non-Literary Sources for Ancient History in 2015/16

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Unit name Non-Literary Sources for Ancient History
Unit code CLAS22319
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Momigliano
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit concentrates on the non-literary evidence which ancient historians use: art, archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics. This kind of evidence is useful not only for confirming our literary sources or plugging gaps in the literary record but also for questioning and contradicting the elite perspective offered by those sources, and for addressing aspects of ancient society which the literary sources entirely ignore. The unit will focus on a range of different types of non-literary evidence, considering their nature and the issues involved in their interpretation, and will explore their contribution to specific historical debates.


To develop students understanding of the nature and significance of different kinds of non-literary evidence for ancient history, and to develop their skills in its interpretation.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students should:

  • be familiar with the uses and problems of the whole range of non-literary evidence (in particular images, coins, archaeology and epigraphy), and the contribution it can make to ancient history.
  • have had some experience in evaluating the ways that ancient historians make use of such evidence in studying particular problems in ancient history, and in producing their own interpretations of pieces of evidence.
  • be able to use the knowledge acquired in lectures and through their own researches to construct coherent, relevant and persuasive arguments on the use of non-literary evidence in ancient history.
  • have had the opportunity to develop their skills in oral and written communication, in smaller groups and in general discussion, and in essays and written exams.

Teaching Information

Lectures and seminars.

Assessment Information

Three written assessment tasks, analysing the nature and use of different forms of evidence in relation to specific historical questions. Two of 1500 words (25% each) and one of 2000 words (50%).

Reading and References

  • J.Bodel, ed., Epigraphic Evidence (2001)
  • M. Beard & J. Henderson, Classical Art. From Greece to Rome (2001).
  • M. Crawford ed., Sources for Ancient History (1983).
  • K. Greene, The Archaeology of the Roman Economy (1986)
  • C. Howgego, Ancient History from Coins (1995)
  • C. Renfrew & P. Bahn, Archaeology: theories, methods and practice (1991)