Course syllabus

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




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ANCHIST 110: Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome

SEMESTER 1, 2019

15 points




Dr Jennifer Hellum

Room 206-806

Office Hour: Tuesdays 1-3pm (held in Arts Students Centre communal area)


Dr Jeremy Armstrong

Room 206-804

Office Hour: Tuesdays 10-11am (held in his office)


Assoc. Prof. Lisa Bailey

Room 206-808

Office Hour: Wednesdays 2-3pm (held in Arts Students Centre communal area)



Reuben Hutchinson-Wong

[Teaches the following tutorials:  Wed 1-2, Thurs 10-11, 12-1, 1-2]

Office Hour: Thursdays 11-12 (held in Arts Students Centre communal area)


Gala Morris

[Teaches the following tutorials: Tues 1-2, Fri 10-11, 12-1, 1-2]

Office Hour: Wednesdays 2-3pm (held in Arts Students Centre communal area)


Course delivery format:

Two lectures per week: Wednesdays and Fridays 3-4pm

One weekly tutorial: variable times

(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:




Week One

March 6: Lecture 1. Introduction to Course and Egypt

March 8: Lecture 2. Digging up the Past: How we know what we know

Tutorial: Arts+ mentoring session


Week Two:

March 13: Lecture 3. The Divine King

March 15: Lecture 4. Viziers and Overseers

Tutorial: What is (ancient) history?


Week Three:

March 20: Lecture 5. Religion: Deities

March 22: Lecture 6. Religion: Temples

Tutorial: Using archaeology: bias and interpretation

Assignment One: Thought piece on ancient history


Week Four:

March 27: Lecture 7. Death and Living: Daily Life through Tomb Modelling

March 29: Lecture 8. Daily Life: Art and Artefact

Tutorial: Archaeology of Architecture

Assignment Two: Artefact analysis




Week Five

April 3: Lecture 9.  Overview: Greece from the Neolithic to Alexander

April 5: Lecture 10. Digging up the Past: How we know what we know

Tutorial: Using literary evidence: bias and interpretation

Assignment Three: Site analysis


Week Six

April 10: Lecture 11. Kings, Democrats, and Dead Persians: from Troy to Thermopylae

April 12: Lecture 12. Kings, Democrats, and Dead Persians: from Thermopylae to Alexander

Tutorial: Libraries and Research

Assignment Four: Text analysis


Mid-semester break


Week Seven

May 1: Lecture 13. Religion: The Greek Cosmos

May 3: Lecture 14. The Birth of Greek Science

Tutorial: Online research

Assignment Five: Initial bibliography for essay based on library work


Week Eight

May 8: Lecture 15. A Day in the Life...

May 10: Lecture 16. Daily Life: Working for a Living

Tutorial: Essay workshop

Assignment Six: Provisional outline of essay


Essay due Tuesday 14th May




Week Nine

May 15: Lecture 17. Overview: from Romulus to the Fall

May 17: Lecture 18. Digging up the Past: How we know what we know

Tutorial: The history of history writing

No assignment this week


Week Ten

May 22: Lecture 19. Warlords and Republicans

May 24: Lecture 20. Emperors: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Tutorial: Using coins in ancient history

Assignment Seven: Reflection on ancient history


Week Eleven

May 29: Lecture 21. Daily Life: Roman Families

May 31: Lecture 22. Daily Life: Slavery

Tutorial: Exam workshop

Assignment Eight: Coin analysis


Week Twelve

June 5: Lecture 23. Religion

June 7: Lecture 24: Temples/ Exam Preparation

No tutorial this week


Assessment Summary:

Assignments             20%

Essay (1500 words)  30%

Exam                         50%



Set and recommended readings will be provided on Canvas under Modules


20% of your mark will be derived from 8 assignments, scheduled through the semester, each worth 2.5% 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 modules section on Canvas for specific instructions for each assignment. Assignments must be typed.

Assignments must be submitted IN YOUR TUTORIAL in the week in which they are due. If, however, you cannot attend your usual tutorial one week, please attend a different time slot. If you cannot attend at all due to a pressing reason of illness or unexpected event, please contact Associate Professor Lisa Bailey ( immediately to make other arrangements, and be prepared to provide documentation. We will not accept late assignments without a pre-approved extension.


The essay is due at 4pm on May 14th and has a word limit of 1500 words. 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 and you will also be doing work in tutorials on how to research the essay.

In extreme circumstances, such as illness or unexpected events, you may seek an extension for the essay but you should contact Associate Professor Lisa Bailey ( before the due date and you will be required to provide supporting information. Late essays without a pre-approved extension will be accepted, but will be penalised at 5% for the first day and 2% for each day thereafter.


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. 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. We will have a tutorial dedicated to online research techniques before the essay is due.

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 are advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. 

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