OverviewThis course will survey the evolution of the Mediterranean city from AD 300 to 650, the urban crisis that followed, and the direction which urban life took thereafter. City life in this period was, until recently, poorly understood, hindered by the prejudices of classical archaeologists, who removed late levels without record, and the selective interests of Christian archaeologists who concentrated on churches. Now new archaeological fieldwork has revealed much greater complexity, from urban collapse in the West to the flourishing cities of the sixth century East, which provided a foundation for much of Early Islamic urbanism.
Although north-west Europe is included, the Mediterranean is the predominantly the focus of this module where urban life was strongest, throughout the period. Lectures will explore both thematic and regional syntheses, with a major distinction drawn, not between a Greek East and a Latin West, but between a Mediterranean core and a northern periphery. An attempt will be made to link changes in the physical appearance of cities to wider events and processes: whether military, political, religious or economic in character. Seminars will explore aspects of the rich source material available, whether drawn from architectural remains, stratigraphic archaeology, epigraphy, or selected written sources of the period.
This module appears in:
Total Contact Hours: 40
Also available under code CL639 (Level 6)
Method of assessment
• Essay 1 (1,600 words) – 20%
• Essay 2 (2,400 words) – 30%
• Essay 3 (3,000 words) – 40%
• 2 x Seminar Handout (500 words each) – 10%
Indicative Reading List -
Christie N. and Loseby S.T. (1996) ed. Towns in Transition: Urban Evolution in Late. Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Aldershot: Scholar Press
Lavan L. (2001) ed. Recent Research in Late Antique Urbanism. Portsmouth: Rhode Island
Liebeschuetz J. H. W. G. (2001). The Decline and Fall of the Roman City. Oxford: OUP
Mango C. (1985). Byzantine Architecture. London: Faber
Rich J. (1992) ed. The City in Late Antiquity. London and New York: Routledge
Saradi H. G. (2006). The Byzantine City in the Sixth Century. Literary Images and Historical Reality. Athens: Society of Messenian Archaeological Studies
Students who successfully complete this module will be able to:
- Distinguish different forms of urbanism, both between different periods and between different regions;
- Distinguish between different types of city within the same settlement network, and understand the relationship of cities to the surrounding countryside;
- Demonstrate critical understanding of the problems of interpreting fragmentary and problematic sources for urban life in this period;
- Recognise connections between changes in settlement morphology, building types and occupation to contemporary societal processes.