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Introduction to Ancient History Not facts but skills. Not knowing lots of things, but knowing where to look things up. Not memorising sources, but knowing.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Ancient History Not facts but skills. Not knowing lots of things, but knowing where to look things up. Not memorising sources, but knowing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Introduction to Ancient History Not facts but skills. Not knowing lots of things, but knowing where to look things up. Not memorising sources, but knowing what to do with them. Introducing you not to the ancient world, but to the art of being an ancient historian.

2 Introduction to Ancient History Learning Outcomes On successful completion of this unit, you should: be familiar with the main tools of historical research, and able to make use of them in your work; be familiar with the conventions of historical writing, and able to put these into practice; have developed your skills of critical analysis, and your ability to construct an argument; have developed written and oral presentation skills

3 Introduction to Ancient History Credit; attendance; preparation Assessment Information: Contact

4 What is ancient history? It depends... Distinguished from other periods of history, or history of other regions; Distinguished from other kinds of account of the past; The key question: why does this matter, and to whom does it matter?

5 What is ancient history? Chronological boundaries Just the classical period, C5 BCE – C5 CE? Even here, patchy coverage; Hellenistic period? Today, pushing boundaries in both directions. What determines the limits? Nature of the evidence; archaeology or history? Tradition; focus on certain kinds of sources. Prejudice; only the classical is interesting? Note dependence on political institutions.

6 What is ancient history? Geographical boundaries Nothing on Americas, not much on Asia or Africa, and even neglects most of Europe for most of the time. Not even all the Mediterranean; Egypt? Eurocentrism and Racism? Importance of idea that classical world is birthplace of Western civilisation, hence exclusive focus. Play down influence of other cultures.

7 What is ancient history? Disciplinary boundaries: history Different sorts of evidence; different attitudes to evidence. Traditional focus on literary sources. Disciplinary boundaries: archaeology Textual versus material – or is this just tradition? Archaeology just to fill in the gaps, or alternative account in its own right? The problem of classical archaeology

8 What is ancient history? Other accounts of the past History and myth History and fiction History and propaganda History and pseudo-history Focus on methodology, critical use of evidence Misleading: not fiction, but involves imagination Key question: what s at stake in this debate?


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