Study Course Outlines


Teaching Staff: Kapetanios Andreas
Course Code: ΑΚΛ101
Course Type: Compulsory
Course Level: Undergraduate
Course Language: Greek
Delivery method: Lectures
Semester: 4th

Short Description:

This course evolved on two main threads: first, the roots, the emergence and evolution of Classical Archaeology in the Greek world as a discipline is traced back to the Renaissance and contextualised in the 19th C Independence Revolution, the formation of the Greek State  and  Natiomal Identity; second, it provides an overview of the evolution of past societies in Greece from the 11th C BC, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Mycenean palatial system, to Late Antiquity (circa 4th C AD), at the dawn of the Byzantine era. This overview is delivered focusing on these societies’ material culture, brought to light, recorded and analysed by the archaeological methodology.  In this vein, issues of ancient topography and landscape organisation, architecture, artefacts, biofacts (biological remains of humans and other living organisms such as bones, seeds, organic residues), ecofacts (remains allowing to understand environmental conditions during the periods overviewed, such as tectonics, soil formation,  and pollen) are touched upon.  These are examined in the context of certain case-studies, involving examples of archaeological surveys and excavations, both on the land and underwater.  They are organised by a diachronic thread, employed heuristically, which follows the evolution of various material expressions of collectivities linked to the emergence and evolution of the phenomenon of political organisation named Polis.

Topics examined in this perspective include: settlement patterns (production and habitation) and spatial organisation (topography, the built space and landscape formation, architecture), networks (social and spatial), economic practices (resource management, production-consumption, processing and trading products and materials), ideology-related practices (cult and ritual in religious and funerary contexts), everyday life, arts (visual and performing), violence and conflict (including war and defence) and the perception of the past by ancient and modern societies (monuments for ancient and modern societies). 

The emphasis on material culture, set in this course, outlines the relationship between Classical Archaeology, Historiography and Art History.  Material culture is in a cross-referenced dialogue with historiographic texts, literary and epigraphic texts and art.  The importance of the archaeological perspective emerges when considering social groups with no or little presence in texts, such as slaves or, even, women and children.

Objectives - Learning Outcomes:

This course introduces students to and familiarises them with the application of archaeological methodological tools in the investigation of the history of the Classical Antiquity in Greece.  It aims at developing their understanding of the ways in which material culture and related practices constitute active social factors, involved in both reproduction and re-structuring of fundamental social structures (such as power relations) in Classical Antiquity, and how this understanding is linked to present social dynamics.  By completion of the course the student of History should have become aware of the importance and familiarised with the techniques of addressing questions to materials as well as to texts, while being able to apply such techniques on simple examples (case-studies).


Week 1: The past in the past -a. The semantic range of the terms Classic and Classicism. The "archeologies" or, in other words, the material traces of the past in the past. Ancestors / heroes cult - burial mounds (tumuli), enclosures, tombstones. Ritual practices related to material remains, in antiquity: Middle Helladic tombs, tholos tombs, Mycenaean figurines, kouroi and korai. Built memory: the spoils of the Proparthenon embedded in the wall of the Athenian Acropolis.

Week 2: The past in the past-b. The archeology of the other - the archeology of self (reflexive archaeology). The Venetian archaeologists of the 16th c. (Onorio Belli, Kyriakos Angonitis). Travelers, grand tour, orientalism, treasure-hunt, philhellenism.  The 19th century: the struggle for Independence, structuring the Greek national identity - Dilletanti, Elgin, Fauvel – “our own” Kyriakos Pittakis. Hellenism - Orientalism - Colonialism. Evans’ “ecstatic vision” by Α. Zois.

Week 3: Katharevouses (“cleaned” languages): Selectivity in protecting in situ, as parts of the modern landscape, material remains of the past. The political dimension of the Classical past. The power of antiquity. Constructing historical landscapes. The example of the Acropolis of Athens, from the 17th century, during the Occupation and the recent visit of Obama.

4th week: The present mater of the past. 19th c.:  the concept of Classic becomes bonded to that of Archeology. Archaeological methodology. Excavation, topography, recording methods, dissemination of discovery - narratives. Modern techniques: Seriation- classification – typology; the example of pottery types (from the handmade geometric pottery to the painted and figured vessels; the technology of black-figure and red-figure pottery - the megaric skyphoi -Samian ware and terra sigillata -Archaic to Roman times); the example of commercial amphorae. Employing scientific methods and social science methods (absolute dating, bioarchaeology, geoarcheology, experimental archaeology and ethno-archeology). Epigraphics, Numismatics. The silent and the dominant in history: slaves, women children and the elite; related examples in epigraphic -pottery - funerary – architectural – artefactual studies.

Week 5: The emergence of Polis -a: From Mycenaean centripetal polity formation (“palatial sates”) to Polis (City-state). Evolutionary perspectives. The misreadings of progressive cultural evolutionism: social evolution - the concept of progress. Social evolution as a mere succession of social formations (Newton’s evolution metaphysics).

Week 6: The emergence of Polis -b: The Past of Heroes / Ancestors. The Practices; religious, funerary rituals. The spatio-temporal coordinates of Classical Archeology. Periodisation, chronological schemes and the evolution of the Greek Polis. Eras, Periods and their nomenclature (from the Mycenaean to the Late Roman / Early Christian times).

Week 7: The emergence of Polis -c: Decoding architecture: the example of megaron; typological evolution; spatio-temporal dispersion; the Early Bronze Age forerunners; the Mycenaean megara as political and religious foci. Comparing megara in the Mycenaean palaces and in the sanctuaries of Geometric to Archaic periods.

8th week: The emergence of Polis -d: Settlements and sanctuaries. From house to temple: Oikos of elites and heroes. Megara and apsidal huts. The residence of the ruler- the hero cult - the Polis sanctuary. Sanctuaries-gods- heroes-elites-social networks-power relations-Polis. Sanctuaries and  social dynamics; community – collective ideology. Evolution towards a political society - towards Polis. Standardisation of the temples’ typology: Archaic - Classical - Roman.

Week 9: The emergence of Polis -e: The historicity of power relations. Keys to interpret the social role of sanctuaries: spatial organisation (A), functional characteristics (B) visual art - architecture, artefacts. Settlement patterns: ‘urbanisation’ factors – rural life and farmhouses (the example of Attica). ChoraAsty Polis and sanctuaries:  Urban / peri-urban / extra-urban and rural sanctuaries. Diachronic sanctuaries - examples: Hyria, Mycenae, Phocis, Oracle of Apollo Avaios. The sanctuary as communal spatial focus; links to Agoras and Vouleuteria. The early sanctuary and the ‘Agora’ in Dreros, Crete - analogies in the settlement in Azorias. Collective practices – festivals – commensality - feasting: Hiera Hestiatoria in Despotiko, Paros, at  the Sounion sanctuaries, in the sanctuary of Hercules, Thassos. Sacred foci for wider collectivities: Despotiko – Delos; local compared to supra-local sanctuaries; the pan-Hellenic sanctuaries of Dodoni, Delphi, Olympia.

Week 10:  Fundamentals of Classical architecture and visual art. The formation of the basic architectural orders in temple architecture. Morphological and typological "constants" – similarities and differences between Doric, Ionian and Corinthian orders. From wood to marble: introduction to the concept of monumentality. Monumental architecture along with monumental sculpture. Relief or fully sculptured works as/on structural and/or functional parts of buildings.  Comparing sculpture works from: the temples and sanctuaries of Hera of Samos, Artemis of Corfu, of Apollo Dafniforos in Eretria, the Athens Acropolis, the Aphaia in Aegina and of the Treasures of the Athenians and of the Sifnians at Delphoi.

Week 11: Technology: ‘assemblable’ buildings of the Classical period: works of architecture and visual art at the zenith of combining aesthetic awareness and technical excellence. How standardization and systematization, within a sequence of processes, can lead to the uniqueness of a creation such as the Parthenon. The concept of operationall sequence (or chaîne opératoire)- André-Georges Haudricourt, André Leroi-Gourhan, Marcel Mauss, Pier Bourdieu. From quarry to the Acropolis. Methods of binding building-stones and column-drums. Unfinished buildings as source for understanding ancient stone technology - the example of the doric building at Thorikos.

Week 12: From matter to ideas: Kouroi and Korai; the archaic world: gods, heroes, mortals and elites. The building-project of Pericles: politics and power in Classical Greece. Historicisation of three buildings: the temple of Olympian Zeus and the stylites hermits; the idiosyncratic temple of Apollo at Vasses and its mysteries;  the phases of the bastion-tower on the Athens Acropolis Propylaia.

Week 13: After Polis, what? Processes of transition as expressed in the Late Roman years.  Examples: reorganisation of the landscape in SE Attica; from the Demos cluster network to nucleated villages. Herod of Attica: sanctuaries and farms; patronage and power; Busts of students who died and “Felix Marathon”.


Suggested Bibliography:

Στέφανος Ν. Κουμανούδης, Η ελληνική αρχαιολογία, Τυπ. Κείμενα, Αθήνα 1984

Ian Morris (ed) Classical Greece : ancient histories and modern archaeologies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1994

Tonio Holscher, Κλασική αρχαιολογία : βασικές γνώσεις, University Studio Press, Θεσσαλονίκη 2005.

Δημήτρης Πλάντζος, Ελληνική Τέχνη και Αρχαιολογία, Αθήνα, Καπόν, 2016.


Παναγιώτης Δουκέλης (επιμ.) Το Ελληνικό Τοπίο. Μελέτες Ιστορίας Γεωγραφίας και Πρόσληψης του Τοπίου, Εστία, Αθήνα, 2005. 

Rich, John, and Graham Shipley, eds. War and society in the Greek world. Vol. 4. Psychology Press, 1993.

Salmon, John, and Graham Shipley, eds. Human landscapes in classical antiquity: environment and culture. Routledge, 2013.

Γεώργιος Σταϊνχάουερ, Ιστορική γεωγραφία του αρχαίου κόσμου, Ελλάδα – Ρώμη, Αθήνα, Παπαδήμας Δημ. Ν. 2009

Μανόλης Κορρές (επιμ.) Αττικής Οδοί, Αρχαίοι Δρόμοι της Αττικής, Αθήνα, Μέλισσα, 2009.

Traill, J. S.The political Organization of Attica. A study of the Demes, Trittyes, and Phylai, and their representation in the Athenian Council.[Mit Tab.] (Vol. 14). ASCSA, 1975

Μανακίδου, Ε., Μανακίδου, Φ., 2015. Ἐν οἴκῳ και ἐν δήμῳ. [ηλεκτρ. βιβλ.] Αθήνα:Σύνδεσμος Ελληνικών Ακαδημαϊκών Βιβλιοθηκών. Διαθέσιμο στο:

Μονιούδη-Γαβαλά, Θ. 2015. Η ελληνική πόλη από τον Ιππόδαμο στον Κλεάνθη. [ηλεκτρ. βιβλ.] Αθήνα:Σύνδεσμος Ελληνικών Ακαδημαϊκών Βιβλιοθηκών. κεφ 1. Διαθέσιμο στο:

Morris, Ian. Death-ritual and social structure in classical antiquity. Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Finley, Moses I. The ancient economy. Univ of California Press, 1999.

Meadows, Andrew, and Kirsty Shipton. Money and its uses in the ancient Greek world. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Cartledge, Paul, Edward E. Cohen, and Lin Foxhall, eds. Money, Labour and Land: Approaches to the economics of ancient Greece. Routledge, 2005.

Alexandros Mazarakis –Ainian, From Rulers' Dwellings to Temples. Architecture, Religion and Society in Early Iron Age Greece (1100-700 B.C.), Jonsered 1997,Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology 122

Αλέξανδρος Μαζαράκης-Αινιάν, Όμηρος και Αρχαιολογία, Αθήνα, Καρδαμίτσα, 2000.

Πάνος Δ. Βαλαβάνης, Ιερά και αγώνες στην Αρχαία Ελλάδα. Ολυμπία, Δελφοί, Ισθμία, Νεμέα, Αθήνα, Αθήνα, Καπόν, 2004.

Alcock, Susan E., and Robin Osborne, eds. Placing the gods: sanctuaries and sacred space in ancient Greece. Oxford University Press, 1994.

Paga, Jessica. "Deme Theaters in Attica and the Trittys System." Hesperia (2010): 351-384.

Teaching Methods:

The course is based on lectures by the supervisor with appropriate use of educational material, interaction and close collaboration with the students. Written exercises aiming to crirically assess issues taught during the lectures. Optional written essays or alternative projects (shooting a documentary, staging a play) are assigned.   Lectures and practical lessons are frequently taking place in the Corfu archaeological museum or (weather permitting) at the Palaeopolis archaeological site.

Evaluation Methods:

Final written examination, wriutten exercises and ptional projects during the semester.

Updated: 11-05-2021

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