Netherlands, Amsterdam

The Edge of an Empire: Exploring the Archaeology of the Roman Frontier

when 5 August 2017 - 19 August 2017
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 ECTS
fee EUR 1000

With Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul in the first century BC, the Netherlands became part of Rome’s northern frontier zone on the European continent. It remained so until well into the fifth century AD, creating a fascinating arena of interaction between the Romans and local population groups. In this course, experts from the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (ACASA) provide you with a comprehensive, archaeology-led introduction to that frontier. Our central question is how local social, political, economic and religious life was transformed by the Roman presence, and how that affected the way people here perceived themselves.

Topics we discuss include the violence of conquest, the construction and organization of Roman military infrastructure, ethnic recruitment, military logistics and transport, veteran settlement, the Roman army and literacy, the rural economy and its monetization, and sanctuaries, cult and the construction of identity. Through close reading of both the archaeology and written sources, you acquire a thorough knowledge of the effects of conquest and the subsequent colonial encounter. Using archaeological theory, anthropological models and predictive modelling, you also learn how to apply and combine methodologies in order to answer key questions about life at the Roman frontier. Going beyond the textbooks, workshops looking at Roman coins and other artefacts familiarize you with the region’s material culture and the latest digital methods for interpreting it. You will learn to ‘read’ Roman coins and to critically assess economic models of interpretation offered by economic historians and archaeologists. The second workshop has the same objective, only using other forms of archaeological evidence and the digital technique of predictive modelling as tool. Finally, you consider how to present your findings to a variety of audiences – in other words, how to make the most of archaeological heritage.

Course leader

Dr Ton Derks, Prof. Nico Roymans, Dr Joris Aarts, Dr Philip Verhagen

Target group

Advanced Bachelor’s

Course aim

Learning objectives:
• You have a broad factual knowledge of Dutch frontier studies and can apply this in your own future research activities.
• You are able to select appropriate sources for the study of research questions in frontier dynamics.
• You can identify key archaeological facts about important sites in the Roman frontier area explain their importance in the context of Roman history and how their material culture is being used by archaeologists and historians to create this history.
• You know when and how to apply predictive modelling techniques as a research tool for socio-economic studies.
• You can explain the main theoretical approaches to imperialism and frontier politics.
• You can apply the knowledge and methodology you have acquired in this course to other themes in archaeology or history.
• You can select the most appropriate media to present the past of the Roman frontier to specific target groups within modern society.

Credits info

46 contact hours

Fee info

EUR 1000: Included in the tuition fee are:
• Airport pick-up service
• Orientation programme
• Course excursions
• On-site support
• 24/7 emergency assistance
• Transcript of records after completion of the course


• Early bird discount of €150
• €250 discount for students from partner universities.
• 10 scholarships available that cover the full tuition fee of one course.
• Combine 2 courses: €100 discount
• Combine 3 courses: €200 discount

Register for this course
on course website