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Ancient history and archaeology (TSM)

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Course overview

Ancient history and archaeology are both concerned with understanding social, political and cultural experience in the past. This course offers you the opportunity to range across these two broad disciplines. You will study the Greek and Roman worlds by working with historical and literary documents alongside the material remains of ancient sites and artefacts. You also explore Greek and Roman relationships with neighbouring cultures, such as Egypt and the Near East, within the Mediterranean and beyond. There are opportunities to participate in archaeological fieldwork and in study tours to classical sites. All material is studied in translation and no knowledge of Greek or Latin is required.

Is this the right course for you?

You will enjoy this course if you are interested in studying the history and culture of the Greeks and Romans - their achievements and their profound influence on the modern world – through the complementary study of history and archaeology.

Course content

Over your four years you will develop a broad understanding of the ancient world through its history and archaeology, moving from introductory courses in the first year, to more focused thematic topics in the second and third years, and choosing from a range of specialised options in your final year. The course is taught through a mixture of lectures, practical classes and small-group seminars, which encourage lively discussion and the development of independent thinking.

The Junior Freshman year

In the Junior Freshman (first) year you will take three courses - see below. There are approximately six hours of classes in the Junior Freshman year.

  • Greek and Roman history - an introductory survey of the Greek and Roman world from the Greek Archaic age to the early Roman Empire. The course covers topics such as politics and power, the Athenian invention of democracy, the rise of Alexander, the emergence of Rome as a major imperial power, colonisation, war and conflict.
  • Greek and Roman art and architecture - an introductory survey of the development and major artistic achievements in architecture, sculpture and painting. The course places art and architecture in its social and political context; it focuses on themes such as the use of narrative and mythology in art, urbanisation, and on the development of architectural forms such as temples, theatres and Roman baths.
  • Sources and methods in history and archaeology - an introduction to the materials, methodologies and theories employed by historians and archaeologists. This course is specially designed to develop the practical, analytical and critical skills required to assess ancient evidence. The course mixes lectures with smaller seminars which focus on discussion and hands-on work with artefacts.

The second and third years

Courses in the second and third years offer the opportunity to focus on specific themes and periods in the history and archaeology of the Mediterranean, develop a deeper awareness of methods and theory, discuss key themes of relevance to both the ancient and modern world, and to work with artefacts. Over the two years you will study topics in: Greek archaeology and history, Aegean Bronze Age archaeology, Roman archaeology and history, and History and archaeology of Roman Britain. There are also options to do practical archaeological work or an approved study tour to the Mediterranean in place of a taught course in these years. All the courses are taught by lectures and small-group seminars.

In the Greek archaeology and history courses you explore major themes such as colonisation, empire, the emergence of literacy, slavery, war and ideology, religion, and social issues such as sexuality, gender and death. These courses range in time from the development of the Greek city-states, such as Athens and Sparta, to the Hellenistic kingdoms founded in the wake of Alexander. The Bronze Age course takes you back in time to the early palatial civilisations of the Minoans and Mycenaeans.

In Roman history you will study imperial history from Augustus to the emperor Constantine, examining the period from a number of perspectives, from the emperors themselves to the lowliest of slaves, and ranging from imperial politics and military strategy, to economics and social concerns such as religion and rebellion. Roman archaeology takes you the length and breadth of the Roman world, exploring cities and urban life, frontiers and the army, trade, transport and technology. In the Roman Britain course you will assess the impact of Roman culture on Britain as a remote Roman province and consider issues such as imperialism, acculturation and identity.

The Senior Sophister year

If you decide to study ancient history and archaeology in the final year you will be able to choose two special subjects from a range on offer. Courses offered recently include Ancient Cyprus; Egypt; Entertainment and spectacle in the Greek and Roman worlds; Goddesses of the ancient Mediterranean; Anthropology and the Greeks; Kings and cities; Rhetoric: the art of persuasion.

You will also write a thesis on a subject of your choice. This is an opportunity to do research which will allow you to develop independent ideas and acquire critical skills while investigating in great depth an area that particularly interests you.

Assessment

A combination of end-of-year examination and continuous assessment (e.g. essays, seminar presentations and team projects, artefact studies and short commentaries on texts) is used and a thesis is written in the final year.

Study abroad

Trinity College has strong links with many Classics departments abroad, including active participation in the Erasmus exchange programme with universities in Cyprus, France, Switzerland and Turkey, and students are able to avail of College-wide exchanges, for example, to North America and Australia. This allows students the option of spending a year abroad.

Career opportunities

Recent graduates have entered many fields including archaeology, heritage and museum work, art restoration, teaching and higher education policy, publishing, heritage and museum work, business, accountancy and social work. Each year some of our graduates also opt to pursue a research career in history or archaeology beginning with postgraduate study in Ireland or abroad.

Further information

www.tcd.ie/Classics

E-mail: classics@tcd.ie

Tel: +353 1 896 1208

 


Graduate Profile

Aoife Condit, postgraduate in Classics, TCD

The Department of Classics in Trinity College was particularly attractive to me because I have always adored Trinity College's campus and the courses offered by the department seemed to be exactly what I wanted. I have found the course content of the AHA programme to have a good balance between the literary sources and the archaeology, allowing us, as students, to have a fuller understanding of not only the larger history but also the daily life of the ancient world. I found the seminars in second and third year particularly enjoyable for being able to sit and discuss ideas more informally, and while there were some weeks I may not have enjoyed having to do my own research, in hindsight they certainly prepared me for the more thorough research necessary in fourth year for both my courses and my thesis. Fourth year has been without doubt my favourite year; after three years of learning research techniques I have found this year based around seminars instead of lectures and my own personal research for the thesis more fun than I probably ever thought when leaving secondary school. I would give credit for this not only to the opportunity of having this year within our undergraduate degree but also to the professionalism and enthusiasm displayed by the staff for their subjects and passed on to us."

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