Special Topic: The City in the Greco-Roman World

Please note: this is archived course information from 2020 for ANCHIST 261.


The city sat at the heart of the Greco-Roman world. From the city-states of ancient Greece to the rise of Rome, cities not only represented the key territorial and political units of the ancient world but were central to concepts of identity. While the city of Rome was the political and ideological centre of the Roman empire, the foundation of new cities and integration of ancient ones became integral to its expansion and survival.

From Londinium in Britannia to Alexandria in Egypt, from Leptis Magna in North Africa to Aquileia in Italy, the many cities of the Roman world not only served as bastions of Roman rule in their regions but were conduits for the flow of trade and ideas, binding people together in a vast sprawling network.

This course examines the Roman city from the early influences of the Greek city-states to the dawn of late antiquity. It explores what it may have been like to live in an ancient city and how they functioned within both a local and empire-wide context. Employing written evidence, archaeology, numismatics, art, and architecture, the course will cover a broad series of topics, such as civic identity, religion, urban society, government, commerce, and the military role of cities.

Utilising case studies from a broad geographical spread, it will not only highlight commonalities shared amongst the urban centres of the empire but will also examine their differences, exploring the impact of local culture on urban landscapes and identity. Overlaying the examination of such topics this course will also trace long-term changes in the role of cities and examine how military threats, rebellions, political crises, and cultural shifts left their mark on the urban environment.

Availability 2020

Semester 1


Lecturer(s) Dr Justin Pigott


Coursework and exam


ANCHIST 261: 15 points


15 points at Stage I in Ancient History or Classical Studies, and 30 points passed