Course syllabus

The Roman-era amphitheatre in the Greek-founded city of Alexandria, in Egypt





ANCHIST 110: Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome

SEMESTER 1, 2018

15 points




Dr Jennifer Hellum

Room 206-806


Prof. Matthew Trundle

Room 206-812


Assoc. Prof. Lisa Bailey

Room 206-808


Course delivery format:

Two lectures per week:

Tuesdays 12-1

Fridays 12-1

One weekly tutorial, starting in week 2

(Timetable and room details can be viewed on Student Services Online)

 Summary of Course Description:              

The ancient Mediterranean was a fascinating place. Its history has always captivated Western society, because of its enduring cultural legacy as well as its profound strangeness. This course explores the rise and development of three of the great civilisations in the region: Egypt, Greece and Rome. It tells the story of how, over thousands of years, Egyptian civilisation evolved from hunter/gatherers to become the superpower of the region, the looming yet alluring behemoth in the East. Toward the end of Egypt’s ancient rule, Greece arose as the ‘birthplace of Western civilisation,’ as renowned for its philosophers, historians, and writers as it was for its warriors and battles. The rise of Rome followed shortly after, spreading its military and cultural power, but also absorbing and being changed by the cultures it conquered, including those of both Greece and Egypt. This course examines the history of these cultures, exploring how they became so powerful, and what life was like for the men and women who inhabited them. It features pharaohs and tyrants, empresses and gladiators, commoners and priests, scribes and soldiers. From their lives and stories emerge a picture of civilisations which ebb and flow, and which had many elements in common, but were also fundamentally different from one another.

Course outcomes:

This course is designed as an introduction the history and cultures of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Lectures and readings cover material from the formation of the Egyptian state in approximately 3000 BCE to the end of the Roman empire in the fifth century CE, but focuses on particular events, moments and issues of interest. The course covers such a broad historical period, so the focus is on giving an overall sense of changes and developments, rather than a detailed narrative. More in-depth analysis of specific periods and cultures can be undertaken at stages 2 and 3. Because this is a stage one course, you will also be instructed in some of the skills necessary for doing ancient history at University level. Tutorials will discuss course materials, but also focus on how to use archaeology, ancient texts and modern scholarship in a critical manner, how to formulate and produce an historical argument, how to reference sources correctly and how to prepare for and do well in exams. Both coursework and exam work will evaluate these skills, in addition to your knowledge of the subject matter.

A student who successfully completes this course will have:

-Improved their knowledge and understanding of three important ancient cultures

-Gained familiarity with the basic skills of historical interpretation, debate and analysis

-Learned skills in research, the evaluation of evidence and critical thinking

-Communicated their ideas in both informal small group discussions and formal written assignments

-Laid a solid foundation for further study in Classics and Ancient History


Lecture Outline:


Egypt Section


Week 1: How Egypt Began

27 Feb: Introduction

2 Mar: State Formation

No tutorial


Week 2: Early Egypt

6 Mar: The Early Dynastic Period

9 Mar: The Pyramid Age

Tutorial: ‘What is Ancient History?’


Week 3: Classical Egypt

13 Mar: The Middle Kingdom

16 Mar: Daily Life through Tomb Modelling

Tutorial: Using ancient evidence 1: archaeology

Assignment One due in tutorials this week


Week 4: The Age of Empires

20 Mar: ALL the Famous Kings

23 Mar: Egypt and Foreign Rule

Tutorial: Research 1: Books, journals, and the library


Greece Section


Week Five: The World of Homer (700-600 BCE)

27 Mar: Epic Poems and Early Greece

30 March : No lecture due to Good Friday

Tutorial: Using ancient evidence 2: ancient literature

 Assignment Two due in tutorials this week


Mid-semester break


Week Six: The World of Herodotus (600-479 BCE)

17 Apr: Archaic Greek world view 

20 Apr: Herodotus, Histories and the Persian Wars

Tutorial: Research 2: Researching online

Assignment Three due in tutorials this week


Week Seven: The World of Thucydides, Power and the State (479-404 BCE)

24 Apr: Athenian Imperialism 

27 Apr: Athenian Democracy

Tutorial: Source analysis


Week Eight: The World of Alexander the Great (404-323 BCE)

1 May: Warfare, Hegemony and Empire

4 May: The Macedonians: Philip and Alexander the Great

Tutorial: Writing an essay in ancient history 1: argument and structure

Assignment Four due in tutorials this week


Rome Section


Week Nine: Power and the State

8 May: Republics

11 May: Emperors

Tutorial: Writing an essay in ancient history 2: evidence and referencing

 Essay due 4pm May 11


Week Ten: Empire

15 May: Expansion and Conquest

18 May: Imperial cultures

Tutorial: Using ancient evidence 3: combining material


Week Eleven: Family and Social Structure

22 May: Roman Families

25 May: Slaves and the Free

Tutorial: Sources on Slavery/ Exam Preparation

Assignment Five due in tutorials this week


Week Twelve: Material culture

29 May: Public monuments

1 Jun: Domestic spaces/ Conclusions

No tutorial


Assessment Summary:

Assignments: 20%

Essay (1500 words): 30%

2 hour exam: 50%


Set readings

Set readings for each week will be provided on Canvas under 'Reading Lists'. These must be completed before your tutorial.


 20% of your mark will be derived from 5 assignments, scheduled at intervals through the semester, each worth 4% of your final mark. These assignments will be based on the work you have done in tutorials and are designed to build, develop and assess your skills in different aspects of ancient history. Check in the assignments section on Canvas for specific instructions for each assignment. Assignments must be typed.

Assignments should be submitted IN TUTORIAL in the week in which they are due. If you cannot attend your usual tutorial one week, please make arrangments to attend a different time slot. If you cannot attend at all due to a pressing reason of illness or unexpected event, please contact your tutor immediately to make other arrangements, and be prepared to provide documentation.


The essay is due at 4pm on May 11th. This should be submitted electronically through Canvas. You will have a choice of questions on the history of Egypt and Greece which you can find in the assignments section on Canvas. We  will provide short bibliographies which you can access through the reading lists link.


There are many unscholarly or untrustworthy websites. Unless the site is sponsored by a university, or some other reputable scholarly organisation, its contents should be treated with great scepticism and SHOULD NOT BE CITED IN ESSAYS. Most published scholarly works are refereed, that is, read by others in the field before publication, to make sure that they are of good quality and the information in them is correct. Most information on the web is not refereed and you have no guarantee that it is correct. Authors of webpages may know less about the subject than you do. If you cite something in your essay which is wrong, you will be the one held accountable for poor judgement. If you refer to a website you should give the full link, but also, where possible, the name of the author of the site and his/ her affiliations (e.g. is the website part of a University site?). This is particularly true for ancient Egypt, which suffers from a large number of people who see something mystical or secret about the civilisation and consequently write quite a lot of rubbish about it. They can sound convincing, if you don't know any better. Sometimes it's easy to tell when a site shouldn't be trusted (for example,, but sometimes it isn't as easy (such as Both of these sites have appeared in previous students' essay bibliographies, and both are equally undependable.  

Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness or unexpected events, you may seek an extension but you should contact your tutor before the due date and you will be required to provide supporting information. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension will be penalised at 5% for the first day and 2% for each day thereafter.

Tuakana programme

The tuakana mentor for Classics and Ancient History is Mia-Mae Stevens-Taitimu ( Maori and Pasifika students are welcome to use the Tuia space in 206-308 and Mia-Mae will have designated hours there which will be advertised at the start of the semester.


The Classics and Ancient History subject librarian, Mark Hangartner (m.hangartner@ is available for assistance in researching essays and finding useful resources.  The library also runs a series of sessions at the beginning of the semester, designed to familiarise students with how the library works. All new students are strongly encouraged to attend one of these sessions.

Student Learning Centre

The Student Learning Centre facilitates the acquisition of effective academic learning and performance skills in students.  It is NOT just for struggling students, but for anyone wanting to improve their grades or learn new study skills.  It offers a series of workshops throughout the year, as well as one-on-one appointments with tutors.  The SLC is located on the third floor of the Information Commons, phone: 373 7599 ext. 88850, email:, website:

Course summary:

Date Details