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Ancient History Exam

This single exam covers both Greek and Roman history for students in Classical Studies and the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology (IPCAA).

The exam takes 4 hours and could be taken over two days or all at once.  Students will be required to answer two of the shared topics and one of the topics in Greek History and one in Roman History (4 essays x 45 minutes = 3 hours).  There will also be a section of the exam devoted to identifications.  (2 sets of IDs = 2 x 30 minutes = 1 hour).

The exam will be given once per year in September with a possible re-take in May after classes are over. (The May date can also be used by IPCAA students wishing to take the exam for the first time). Philology students will be expected to take the exam in September of their second year. 

At the beginning of each summer, the faculty member in charge of setting the exam will announce the bibliography for all of the essay topics, so that the students will have the summer to prepare for a fall exam. Updates to the bibliography will thus be possible (but not required) each year. Arrangements will be made to assure that the items on the bibliography are as accessible as possible over the summer.

This is a serious exam that requires a substantial amount of reading and studying. Students should prepare for the exam over the course of many months in order to gain the maximum benefit. Remember, the goal is not simply to pass the exam, but to gain a broad and deep understanding of Greek and Roman history and the approaches currently being used to interpret it. 

 

IDENTIFICATIONS

Students will be required to identify thirty out of forty provided historical terms. The terms for identification will be equally divided between “Greek” and “Roman” terms. Students should identify 15 “Greek” terms and 15 “Roman” terms. (Time allocation: 1 hour).

In some cases, terms may have more than one possible referent. In such cases, students should identify the most significant referent. When in doubt, identify all possible referents. It is difficult to generalize about the content of a good answer to an identification question, since the terms vary in nature (e.g., people, places, battles, concepts, political institutions, laws). Most answers will, however, indicate the date(s), geographical location, and historical significance of the term. Usually 4-5 sentences will suffice.

A list of terms for identification is appended to the end of this document. Terms for identification will be drawn from this list.  In order to prepare for the identifications, students should read a good narrative overview of Greek and Roman history, for example I. Morris and B. Powell The Greeks and D. Potter Ancient Rome: A New History.  

See links at bottom of page for Greek and Roman History IDs. 

 

TOPICS

Below is a list of topics with suggested bibliography. The list aims to avoid being overly long or too specialized while at the same time providing a good overview of each topic.

Common Topics: Greece and Rome

Students will be required to write an essay on two of three questions drawn from the common topics. (Time allocation 1.5 hours)


1.  Religion  

    1. Price, S. 1999.  Religions of the Ancient Greeks. Cambridge
    2. Nongbri, B. 2013. Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. New Haven and London.
    3. Hunt, A. 2016. Reviving Roman Religion: Sacred Trees in the Ancient World. Cambridge Classical Studies. Cambridge.
    4. Graf, F. 1999. Magic in the Ancient World. Translated by F. Phillip. Revealing Antiquity 10. Cambridge, MA. 


2.  Evidence & Method

    1. Marincola, J. 2001. Greek Historians. Greece & Rome. New Surveys in the Classics. Oxford.
    2. Krauss, C.S. and A.J. Woodman. 1997. Latin Historians. Greece & Rome. New Surveys in the Classics. Oxford.
    3. Bagnall, R.S. 1995. Reading papyri, writing ancient history. London.
    4. Bodel, J. 2001. Epigraphic evidence: ancient history from inscriptions. London.
    5. Howgego, C. 1995. Ancient History from Coins. London.


3.  Environmental and Economic History 

    1. Thommen, L. 2009. An Environmental History of Ancient Greece and Rome. Cambridge.
    2. Abulafia, S. 2011. The Great Sea. Cambridge.   **Part II: The Second Mediterranean, 1000 BC - AD 600
    3. Harper, K. 2017. The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire. Princeton.
    4. Grove, A. T. and O. Rackham. 2003. The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History. New Haven. 
    5. A. Bresson.2016. The Making of the Ancient Greek Economy. Princeton. 
    6. W. Scheidel et al. eds. 2007. The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World. Cambridge. Chapters 19-23 (p.511-647)

 

Ancient Greece

Students will be required to answer one of two questions drawn from the following topics in Greek history. (Time allocation 45 minutes).

5.  Polis and Politics

    1. Carey, C. 2017. Democracy in Classical Athens. London. 
    2. Kennell, N. M. 2010. Spartans: A New History. Malden, MA.


6.  Empire and Interstate Relations

    1. Low, P. ed. 2008. The Athenian Empire. Edinburgh. 
    2. Ma, J. et al. eds. 2009. Interpreting the Athenian Empire. London.

 

Ancient Rome

Students will be required to answer one of two questions drawn from the following topics in Roman history. (Time allocation 45 minutes).

7.  Early Rome

    1. Cornell, T.  1995.  Beginnings of Rome. London. 
    2. T. P. Wiseman’s review of Cornell 1995 in JRA 1996.
    3. Smith, C.  1996. Early Roman and Latium. Oxford.

 

8.  Imperialism

    1. Champion, C. 2003. Roman Imperialism Readings and Sources. Malden MA.
    2. Eckstein, A. M. 2006. Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome. Berkeley.
    3. Harris, W. V. 1979. War and Imperialism in Republican Rome. New York. 

 

Click here for a PDF of Greek History IDs.
Click here for a PDF of Roman History IDs.