Seminar: Early Roman Imperialism in the Making


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The question how Rome won its empire is as old as the study of Roman history, and continues to fascinate modern scholars and lay public alike. An important difficulty modern scholars encounter is that the available ancient textual sources describe and explain Roman imperial success from hindsight, writing long after the fact. This has led to considerable distortions, imposed by the quality of the historical sources that the early Roman and Greek historians had at hand, and shaped by the literary, dominant views on the developmental history of Rome. As a result, scholars have made a rigid distinction between archaic expansion practices on the one hand (c. 7th to 6th centuries BC) and republican period ones on the other (5th century BC onwards), as well as between early and mid-republican imperial strategies. Such reconstructions are to a large extent informed by anachronistic sources, and as such they result in a teleological and Romano-centric discourse. Recent work shows that this discourse not only needs postcolonial revision to do justice to the pluriformity of ancient experiences of Roman expansionism, but may even question our understanding of the Roman imperial process on the more fundamental level of the motivations and mechanisms at play.

The course starts with a discussion into current debates in the archaeology of early Rome and central Italy, and on theories of (Roman) imperialism. Next, we focus on the archaeology of Late regal to Mid-Republican Rome and surroundings, on-site and in various museums. You will work on a case study with evidence ranging from triumphal architecture, military organization, technology and cult practices to settlement and demographic dynamics, burial customs, housing and iconography. In the second week, we will shift attention from Rome to surrounding landscapes, exploring the socio-political characteristics of Latium and Etruria (the context in which Rome sent out its early colonies). We will visit key-sites of these societies including several Roman colonial sites that were installed in these regions.

Admission requirements 
The course is intended for (R)MA students (MA and Research MA) as well as PhD students in Archaeology, Ancient History, Classics, Political Science, Cultural Anthropology or similar fields, enrolled in one of the Dutch universities. International students can be admitted to the course but may be asked a tuition fee, please contact KNIR before applying.

Course material
Will be made available online.

Course format and assessment 
The course comprises twelve full days of study in Rome and surroundings and some extra time for reading course materials in advance of the course as well as for writing up and editing the paper of the individual assignment after the final meeting.
Before and after the seminar participating students work independently on:
• Preparatory assignment (on the basis of the literature handed over before the course)
• On-site presentation
• Concluding essay (rework and expand your initial paper by including observations made in the field and insights gained during the discussions. Maximum of c. 2000 words)

The preparatory assignment counts for 10% of the total grade, the oral presentation and presence in the daily debate 40% and the concluding paper for 50%. Each student should arrange with his/her home coordinator whether the course can be a part of the existing curriculum. After successful completion of the course the KNIR provides a certificate mentioning study load and evaluation.

Tuition and lodging at the KNIR is free for participants from one of the six classic Dutch universities. Personal expenses, including meals, are not included. Students receive a €100 reimbursement of their expenses for travelling to Rome after submission of their final essay.

Facilities in Rome
All participants will be housed at the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park. From there, it is only a short walk to the historical center of Rome. The KNIR accommodation consists of shared bedrooms and bathrooms, and includes a living and dining space, a large kitchen, washing machine and wireless internet. All residents have 24/7 access to the library and gardens of the Royal Netherlands Institute.

More info
Phone: (+39)063269621