Introduction to Archaeological Studies II

Instructor: Constanze Witt


University of Texas at Austin

Classics Department


Guided Readings

G = Gates; N = Nagle; S= Stokstad

Feel free to use the 5th edition of Nagle if you can't get the 6th.
Please use the 2002 version of Stokstad if possible.

For 1/18: Read the front matter and Introduction to Stokstad. Look at your daily surroundings. Do you live in an image-rich world? What roles do images play in your life?

For 1/20: explore the Lascaux, Cosquer and Chauvet web sites after you have read the Introduction and Chapter 1 (Paleolithic) of Stokstad. Try to use your non-perspectival vision, viewing the images without imposing ideas of space. Imagine experiencing the spaces of the caves and their approaches. Use your new art-historical vocabulary to describe the images. Were the early stone age people "civilized"?

For 1/23: View the images for Paleolithic and Neolithic. If these early people are mainly concerned with survival, what are they doing creating works of art? Why is some of their art "abstract"? What does their architecture tell you about the social structure?

For 1/25: Of the items we study for today, which are solely for the accumulation or display of wealth? Are any? What role does wealth play? What role does agriculture play?

For 1/27: Think about the different physical settings we are exploring and how the shape human experience, and in turn the built environment. What is the impact of access to trade routes and commodities?

For 1/ 30: What are the civic institutions that go into making up a city? a state? What is "kingship"? What are some of the major international trends in the 3rd millennium BCE? Compare and contrast the Egyptian view of nature and the built environment with that of early Mesopotamia. How do their climate and topography affect aspects of life and thought? How are relations between cities organized?

For 2/1: Consider the role of writing, the role of the scribe, and that of the tablet - the inscribed object. And what of the holy brick-mold??

For 2/6: The fluctuations in the fortunes of the great cities and lands can be confusing -- make sure you have the basic ideas down. Would the Codex Hammurapi work as a modern law code? Why or why not? What was important and why? Is the Hymn to Ninkasi one you would sing while making or consuming beer? Why or why not? Local copies: Codex Hammurapi, Making Beer.

For 2/8: Local copy: Hittite Laws (excerpts). Read them with the Codex Hammurapi in mind -- what similarities and differences in content, concerns, emphasis, historical context, etc., can you identify?

ALERT: You are encouraged to attend the free talk below. Write up a paragraph summary for extra credit. Tom Palaima is a very fun and informative speaker.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 7 P.M. LECTURE at the Ransom Center -- Tom Palaima, Professor of Classics at UT and a MacArthur fellow for his work in Aegean prehistory and early Greek language and culture, inquires "Why Write When You Can Speak, Sing, and Remember?"

 For 2/10: What can Minoan art and architecture tell you about the society? How would you characterize Knossos relative to the other cities we have seen? Did these people live in isolation?

For 2/13: What are the new conventions of representation in the Amarna period? How do they compare with those of previous periods in Egypt? in Mesopotamia? in the Aegean?

For 2/15: What do we mean when we speak of "palace" society? As you read the introduction to Linear B and the chapter on its discovery, consider the questions raised in the introduction. We will read about decipherment next week; compare and contrast the nature of Linear B with the other scripts you have read about (cuneiform, hieroglyphic). What assumptions would you make if confronted with a new, undeciphered ancient script?

For 2/17: Test 1. see sample answers to Quiz 1 (on eReserves) and sample test answers

 For 2/20 - 22: Be sure you understand the process of decipherment of Linear B, and the characteristics of the script, as far as understood. What is the nature of the texts, and what do they tell us about the society? What did the Mycenaeans borrow from the Minoans, and what aspects of their culture were innovations? Differentiate Troy from the other Bronze Age cities.

Extra Credit: Watch the "Troy" movie and contrast the city as depicted with how you know it really was, as shown in your readings. You may want to read a bit of the Iliad first. Be very specific.
Mega EXTRA CREDIT: As Sarah mentioned, never a dull moment with Troy. On the occasion of the 2001 exhibition "Troia -- Dream and Reality," a passionate debate took place in the German and then international press between the archaeologist leading the new excavations, Manfred Korfmann, and the ancient historian Frank Kolb, and their factions. Sarah was only able to present a few elements of the controversy in class today. For some really juicy, mudslinging fun, read about the Korfmann/Kolb controversy and write a two- or three-page summary of the ARCHAEOLOGICAL issues. Show how the archaeology is used/abused/? in the arguments. Go to the Project Troia site, click on Controversy and Recent Articles links for readings. Be sure to look at illustrations. What are your thoughts?
Another TALK ALERT: Thursday the 23 in the Classics Lounge (WAG 116) at 3:30: Roger Woodard (SUNY Buffalo) on "Chthonic Spirits and Sacred Spaces"

For 2/24: Read this short article for an overview of the freakadelic ideas circulating about the mysterious Sea Peoples. Get to know the major players in the time of the early Iron Age. Get your time line caught up. What are the major events and players, and what does the map look like around 1250? Around 1000?

For 2/27: Review the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20-23), comparing them to the Codex Hammurapi and the Hittite Laws. What do they tell you about the nature of the society, the relationships between humans, property and the deities? Read all of 1 Samuel (and 2 Samuel if you have the stamina). Think about what kind of figure David is. List his personal characteristics, and his deeds. What kind of hero-king is he? What kind of society does he live in? Why is he such a big deal in Western mythology?

For 3/1: When reading the selections from the Iliad, compare with the Epic of Gilgamesh, and consider the same questions: what archaeologically important information can we glean? how is the physical environment described? What social structures are evident? How is a hero characterized? In the selection from Book XVIII, you can skip ahead to the Shield of Achilles description. What kind of world is being depicted by the god Hephaistos? Is it appropriate for armor?

For 3/3: Okay, you now have four, count 'em, 4 different law codes under scrutiny. Compare and contrast them. What are the priorities and preoccupations of the different societies? What kinds of due process is provided for? What kinds of punishment? Are they "just"? What are the purposes behind them?

As thrilling as the story of the Cyclopes (in the Odyssey) is, please keep archaeological and sociological questions in mind as you read. What can you learn about Odysseus's world, its values, concerns and major features? How are the Cyclops, Odysseus and his men characterised? Is a hero defined in quite the same way in the Iliad and the Odyssey? What does it mean to be civilized? -- I do not expect you to understand every word Ian Morris writes, but he does have some very interesting and valuable insights. And it wouldn't be an archaeology course without reading SOME Morris.

 For 3/ 6: Ruminate on the nature of Geometric art. Note that it looks different in different places. Is this how you picture the world of the Iliad and the Odyssey?What similarities do you see between the art and the poetry?

For 3/8: How would you characterize the accounts of the Assyrian king Sennacherib's forays against Hezekiah? Which do you incline to believe and why? How do the Babylonian proverbs compare with the biblical ones? What can they tell us about the societies that produced them?

 For 3/10: Please remember as you read in S Ch. 5 that there was no such thing as "the Greeks." The people who lived in what is now modern Greece, or those who spoke a dialect of ancient Greek, did NOT consider themselves all one happy family. We speak of "Greek" art and culture because there are items from a certain area that show similarities, but there is great local variation, and the people themselves did not call themselves Greeks. They did have an "us" and "them" mentality only in terms of language: those who spoke Greek were Hellenes, and those who didn't were "barbaroi," barbarians. So we are studying the art and history of people who spoke Greek, whether in Greece, on the Turkish coast, or in Southern Italy and Sicily.

Read the poem of Sappho with special delight. It is a very new discovery from last summer. Her poems are very rare, although she was considered one of the most outstanding poets of all antiquity. Here is the story of how it was put together from two fragmentary papyri. Sappho is the poet and teacher on the island of Lesbos whose songs of love between women inspired the term "lesbian." Again, with Herodotus, don't just enjoy the wild shenanagins, but also notice what we can glean from an archaeological point of view. You will need to read book V after break, so this might be a good time to read it as well. Considering Herodotus as an historian, an ethnographer, a psychologist, and a geographer. What are his priorities, his values, his world view? What roles do women, fate, the gods, human failings, landscape, climate, and oracles play?

Have a good break, and everyone stay safe!

For 3/20: Read the article on agonistic exchange carefully after having read the selections from Homer. Think about the approach used to interpret the society via the texts. How would you use archaeology to test those interpretations? When reading the Works and Days and the Shield, compare Hesiod's world view and values to Homer's, and to those presented in the Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Israelite texts. Does it matter that Hesiod was not an aristocrat? Why does he begin by talking about Strife? How does Hesiod describe the proper relationships within a family, a community? between neighbors or strangers, between men and women, between people and gods? What roles in his world are played by nature, cities, money, the gods, fate, justice, work? Does he give good advice?

Drakon's Law is a 5th-century stone inscription recording a late 7th-century Athenian law on homicide. What does the word "draconian" mean in English? How does the law's response to homicide compare to those in previous laws you have read? What does this tell you about the society?

For 3/22: Here is an alternate source for a translation of Herodotus (we are reading Book 5, Ionian Revolt). In terms of cities, what do "slavery" and "freedom" mean? How are the Persians characterized? How does one conclude an alliance? How does one start a colony and why? You now know the reasons or origins of what phenomena? -- The Persian inscription at Behistun tells of the deeds of Darius -- who is he, and how are his exploits described? Is the same kind of hero as others we have read about? Why is the same inscription written in three languages? -- How would you characterize Persian art and architecture of this time? What does it tell you about the culture?

For 3/27: Can you keep straight in your head who is who in the Persian Wars?? No? That's because sides change constantly. You are not even reading the accounts of the war itself ... If you would like to, here is a link to Herodotus at Perseus, beginning with Book VI. And here is Xenophon's Anabasis at Perseus. It's a rip-roaring good read. Try to keep in mind what profound effects the encounters with the Persians had on the Greeks.

In reading up on Magna Graecia, have a clear picture in your mind of the map of southern Italy and Sicily, and think about what the relations would be with other Greek cities, with the indigenous population, with other foreign powers, and with the mother city.

For 3/29: Test 2! Map, terms, image IDs, text, short essay. BRING TIME LINES.

For 3/31: As you will have noted when updating your time-lines, there is another player on the scene -- Italy and the West. Etruria and early Rome are undergoing their own development at the same time as the Greeks, and in close interaction with them. Livy's Early History of Rome (Book 1) is filled with unfamiliar names -- don't worry about them. Get the main ideas of the traditions central to Roman ideas of the past. What values are important? How is society structured? Explore the meanings underlying the tales of Romulus and Remus and others, the depictions of the Etruscans, and the roles of women, heroes, kings, and the gods in the story of Rome. Evaluate how Livy, a Roman living in the first century BCE, presents the story of the early days of Rome. What does it tell you about the attitudes of Livy and his circle of contemporaries?

For 4/3: the selection from Pausanias's description of Greece is a very abbreviated version of his long description of Olympia. We are studying the late Archaic-early Classical sanctuary, but Pausanias saw it in the mid-second century CE, so his descriptions include later monuments and changes. How useful is Pausanias as a guide? What can he tell us about the effects of nostalgia, preservation, innovation, the agonistic impulse, and ritual on the sanctuary? What can he tell us about the nature of competitive athletics, money and politics?

For 4/5: You are reading about possibly the most famous period of ancient Greek history, the wars between Athens and Sparta.Who wins, and why? Read the selections from Thucydides with Herodotus in mind. What kind of ethnographer is each? How does each conceive his task as an historian? How do the Persians and Greeks described by Herodotus compare with the Greeks described by Thucydides? The Plague and Funeral Oration selections give two very different pictures of the city of Athens during the war. In part he gives a worm's-eye view of the life of regular people in the city. What are the problems and the advantages of the city? Consider the question of heroism -- how do Thucydides' heroes compare with those in earlier writings? What is "democratic" about Athens, and what isn't? Euripides' Ion takes place at the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. What does it tell us about the physical setting, the rites and rituals, and the daily existence of a temple community? What does the play express about Athenian family life, citizenship, birth, and social standing? What does it mean to be "earth born"?

For 4/7: As you have read, Athens is the "school of Hellas," the epitome of the Classical style. Take your time exploring the city of Athens web site, and be sure to follow the links to the QTVR panoramas at Metis -- flying through them is the next best thing to being there. You do need some bandwidth.

In reading about the philosophies and literature of Classical Athens, keep in mind the historical events. Why are hybris and nemesis such important concepts?
hybris: reckless disregard for others, pride, lack of self-restraint
nemesis: retribution
What changes does the "hero" undergo?
What is daily life in Athens like for a citizen male, female, foreigner, metic, slave?

For 4/10: Like Athens, Rome was an insignificant city that rose to have imperial aspirations, but in the case of Rome, there was no Sparta to put an end to them. In the early years of Rome, Republican society developed unique social, domestic, political, religious, artistic and architectural forms of its own. What are the major traits?

For 4/12: When Aristotle writes about the nature of the state and the nature of men and women within the state, keep in mind how profoundly influential his ideas have been throughout history. At once, of course, as the tutor of Alexander the Great. Plutarch's Life of Alexander (local copy) was written over 400 years after Alexander lived; however, since he often uses as sources the writings of men who actually traveled with Alexander and knew him well, his accounts of the events are often based on eyewitness testimony. At the same time, both Alexander's contemporaries and Plutarch himself had their own agendas and biases that are reflected in their accounts. Note Plutarch's psychological approach. With the enormous scope of Alexander's travels and deeds, what archaeological traces would you expect to find?

When you read the New Comedy of Menander (Epitrepontes), compare it to the Old Comedy of Aristophanes (Lysistrata) Does comedy have anything to tell us about the lives and cultures of the people? Is there a modern genre that approximates Old Comedy? New Comedy? What is your favorite sit-com or soap opera? What will it tell future archaeologists about your culture?

For 4/14: What is Polybius' audience? What is his bias? What kind of historian is he, compared with Herodotus and Thucydides? What kind of view do we really have of Carthage, and why?

The Archimedes Palimpsest site is navigated from the little doodles at the top of the page. It is a truly exciting story in modern archaeology and the use of new technologies in reading ancient manuscripts! You don't have to try to understand its contents, but get a good idea of the story behind it.

 For 4/17: Please read today's poems when you are in a good mood and ready for a laugh! Alexandrian poetry is court poetry, written for the Ptolemies and their hoity pals, but the subject matter is bucolic, pastoral, or downright ribald. Can you think of similar cases where extreme urbanization leads to fascination with rural or non-elite themes?

For 4/19: The most important passages in the Aeneid, for our purposes, are linked in Book 1 and Book 8. Although Virgil is writing about events of the same "heroic age" as Homer, his consciously literary and Augustan approach makes for a very different sort of epic poem. If you are very confused, here are a useful study guide. The two cities involved are Carthage and Rome (again). Compare the description of Dido's city to what you know about Roman city planning and construction, and to Evander's account of early Rome. Compare the foundation myths in Virgil and Livy. Compare the description of Aeneas' shield to the previous shield descriptions. What priorities and values are expressed?

For 4/21: Is Virgil's Augustus recognizable in the Deeds (Res Gestae)? Compare Augustus' self-representation with those of other leaders in earlier readings. What kind of a hero is he? Other than conquest and money, what are the Deeds really about? Compare the messages of the Deeds and the Ara Pacis as two items of Augustan propaganda.

For 4/24: Pliny the Younger's two letters (6.16, 6.20) describing the eruption of Mt Vesuvius and the desctruction of Pompeii provide a remarkable eyewitness account to complement the archaeological evidence. The web sites highlight a private villa on Sicily and the civic architecture of Pompeii. How is Roman "public" and "private" space similar to and different from ours? Can your "read" the narrative on the walls of the villa, and in the Forum architecture? Compare the guest/host relationship in Greece with the Roman parton/client relationship -- what archaeological evidence would you expect to find?

For 4/26: Today's readings cover two extremes of the Roman experience. Juvenal (local copy) pokes hilarious fun at all the horrible things he observes in the city of Rome, while Josephus (local copy) chronicles the Roman sack of Jerusalem under Titus in 70 CE. Why did Umbricius leave Rome? Can any of his objections be confirmed archaeologically? What kinds of evidence would you look for? Is it clear from Josephus that Rome is crushing a rebellion? Compare this account with the other accounts of war that you have read. How does Josephus' narrative stance influence your reading? What archaeological evidence is there for his account? The Fori Imperiali site includes some wonderful, if too clean (see Juvenal) and perfect reconstructions of ancient Rome. To enjoy the Webcam, remember the time difference.

For 4/28: The Eutropius passage is very short (local copy), and gives a compressed bio of Marcus Aurelius, author of the still-influential "meditations." What makes a "good emperor"? Compare this passage to Tacitus on Augustus, Nagle p. 323. What made the institution of the Principate necessary, and what finally made it untenable? How does the Roman empire fare when compared with the other empires you have studied?

For 5/1: The Conversion of Constantine while fighting Maxentius is one of the great legends of early Christianity. What is truly weird about Eusebius' account? What kind of hero-king is Constantine? What is Old-Testament Biblical about him?

For 5/3: Read enough of the Procopius to get a sense of the city of Constantinople/Byzantium/Istanbul. How does Constantinople compare with contemporary Rome? How does Christianity fit into the picture? What are the concerns, values and priorities of life in the Eastern empire? How are they expressed in the Hagia Sophia in particular? Compare Procopius' approach to description of monuments to those of Pausanias and our earlier authors.

For 5/5: You do not need to read the works of St Augustine (for this class), just get a good idea of his life, works and influence. Particularly useful are the essays on the Confessions and the epilogue "Reconsiderations" on the Introduction: Life and Works page. If you do not have time to read anything else, here is an interesting article on Augustine's Confessions and early Christian Grave Art. Consider the different forms of monument, memorial, and memory discussed, the different types of narrative, and the uses to which these are put. In what other cultures have you observed analogous phenomena?


The Blanton Museum is now open -- visit the plaster cast collection and write an essay for extra credit! Also great place to study for final exam ...

NOTE: Change of Room for Exam: WAG 10 on May 15, 2-5 pm

 For fun: weird science links

This page is always under construction.

Last updated: Monday, 01-May-2006 17:16:42 CDT