Tomb robbers, adventurers, spies, and gentlemen (and some women) travelers played a central but problematic role in developing the modern discipline of archaeology. This course will use the lives of such travelers, their archaeological discoveries, and well-known artifacts as case studies to explore the themes of the “rediscovery” of the ancient world and concurrent imperialism around the Mediterranean from 1700s to the 20th century.
Learning objectives: We will analyze primary sources, such as accounts from archaeologists and travelers, and then specific archaeological sites in Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Italy, and Turkey. Lastly, we will examine some of the more famous archaeological artifacts, from the Parthenon in Athens to the Tomb of King Tut. Readings from secondary sources and lectures will provide context for each case study. The course aims to assist you in developing critical and analytical thinking skills. The end goal is to allow you to differentiate between romanticized archaeological stories and the actuality of imperial projects, such as the acquisition of material objects for European museums.
Course overview: This course is thematic and organized geographically, instead of chronologically. The general course structure is:
Weeks 1 & 2 - Italy, including Pompeii and Rome
Weeks 2 & 3 - Greece, including Troy, Athens, Knossos, Vergina
Weeks 4 & 5 - Egypt, including Napoleon's conquest, King Tut's tomb
Weeks 7 & 8 - Mesopotamia (Iraq), including Nineveh, Nimrud
Week 9 - Student Presentations
Assignments: Short weekly reading responses (e.g., 3-5 sentences), two essays, one exam, and one presentation in place of a final exam.
- Mary Beard, The Parthenon
- Agatha Christie, Come Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir
- David Damrosch, The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh
- Brian Fagan (ed.), Eyewitness to Discovery: First Person Accounts of More than Fifty of the World’s Greatest Archaeological Discoveries
Other Readings: Other required readings will be offered on the course website
All books and readings will be available at the University Bookstore, UW Library, UW Course Reserves, and/or on the course website.
Course meeting times: Monday and Wednesday 1:10 - 3:20 p.m. in Clark Hall 120.
The website and syllabus are subject to change at the instructor's discretion