A study of the archaeological evidence for the collapse and disappearance of the Roman Empire, and of ancient and modern interpretations of these events.
The Fall of the Roman Empire is considered to be a watershed moment in Western history,
marking an important conceptual division between the classical Mediterranean world
and Medieval Europe. In fact, The Fall of Rome was not a single event, nor has anyone
yet identified a single root cause for the Empire's demise. Instead, this was a drawn
out process that spanned several centuries, across a period characterised by a long
list of fascinating developments: the rise of Christianity, barbarian invasions, rampant
corruption in the aristocratic classes, uncertainty in the imperial succession, an
increasingly unstable financial system, the unpredictable actions of the Roman armies
and the often seditious activities of ambitious military commanders.
In this paper, we will explore the actual changes that took place in this dynamic period, which spans from circa 200 to 500 CE. Our analysis will rely on both the ancient written sources and on contemporary archaeological evidence as we reconstruct the effects of the Empire's fall on everyday life. Ongoing archaeological work in some of the important cities of the post-Roman Mediterranean allows us to develop a state-of-the-field perspective on the fall of the western Roman Empire and its impact on the people who lived in that world.
|Paper title||Archaeology and the Fall of the Roman Empire|
|Teaching period||Not offered in 2020|
|Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD)||$904.05|
|International Tuition Fees (NZD)||$3,954.75|
- 18 200-level CLAS, GREK or LATN points
- CLAS 443
- Schedule C
- Arts and Music
- More information link
- View more information on the Department of Classics' website
- Teaching staff
- Dr Dan Osland
- Paper Structure
- Dr Dan Osland will provide two 50-minute lectures per week, guiding participants through the archaeological and historical evidence related to the late Roman world and the collapse of the western Roman empire. Participants are encouraged to take active part in evaluating the sources and drawing conclusions from the available evidence.
The Fall of the Western Roman Empire: An Archaeological and Historical Perspective. N. Christie. 2011. Bloomsbury.
The Decline and Fall of the Roman City. W. Liebeschuetz. 2001. Oxford.
Framing the Early Middle Ages. New edition. C. Wickham. 2007. Oxford.
- Graduate Attributes Emphasised
- Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
- Learning Outcomes
- An understanding of the historical context of the period that incorporated the fall of the Roman Empire
- An understanding of the key factors that contributed to Rome's fall
- A familiarity with the archaeological record from this period
- The ability to evaluate the available archaeological and historical evidence from this complex period of European history
- The skills of effective written communication, including the construction of clear and logical scholarly argument