Skip to main content

Unit information: Athens and its Acropolis in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Athens and its Acropolis
Unit code CLAS30028
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Momigliano
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Athens, the present capital and largest city of the modern Greek state, is also one of the most famous cities of antiquity. From its modern construction as the birthplace of Western civilisation to its image as the capital of a brutal military dictatorship (1967-1974) and stage of anti-austerity riots (2010-2012), this city and especially its Acropolis have played a crucial role in the way in which scholars and the general public view and relate to Greece, both ancient and modern. This unit provides an overview of the history and topography of Athens, from the earliest traces of human habitation to the present day, and explores: a) some of its most famous ancient monuments, with particular reference to the Athenian Acropolis; b) how these monuments have been shaped and re-shaped by ideological and other concerns; and c) some interpretations and responses elicited by these monuments, from antiquity to the present.


1. Develop knowledge and understanding of key phases and key moments in the settlement history of Athens.

2. Become familiar with: Athenian topography; some of Athens' main monuments dating from different periods; relevant literature on the subject.

3. Develop an understanding of different interpretations of and responses to selected Athenian monuments, from c.18th-21st century AD.

4. Develop critical, oral and written skills

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to

(1) Describe the main topographical features of Athens and the main phases/key moments in the settlement history of this city; relate a number of Athenian monuments to these developments.

(2) Discuss critically some Athenian monuments, especially from the Acropolis, together with relevant ancient and modern texts; compare different interpretations and responses to these monuments, and situate them in their historical and intellectual environment.

(3) Correlate monuments and relevant texts with wider debates concerning archaeology, history, arthistory, literature etc. (e.g. the use of material culture for political propaganda and in the construction of cultural identities in different periods).

Students will also be expected to show:

(4) Skills in critical thinking and in written communication appropriate to level H.

Teaching Information

2 hours per week (seminar).

Assessment Information

One summative coursework essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of 2 hours (50%). Both elements will assess ILOs (1) (2) (3). The coursework essay in particular will offer students the opportunity to demonstrate ILOs (4).

Reading and References

Beard, M. 2004. The Parthenon (London: Profile)

Camp, J. 2001. The Archaeology of Athens (Yale University Press)

Damaskos, D. & Plantzos, D. (eds) 2008. A singular Antiquity: Archaeology and Hellenic Identity in twentieth-century Greece (Athens: Benaki Museum)

Hamilakis, Y. 2007. The Nations and its Ruins: Antiquity, Archaeology and National Imagination in Greece (OUP)

Hurwit, J.M. 1999. The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology and Archaeology from the Neolithic Era to the Present (CUP)

Travlos, J. 1971. Pictorial Dictionary of Athens (London: Thames & Hudson)