Faculty of History and Archaeology

Undergraduate Studies Program

School of Philosophy Faculty of History and Archaeology

I. The subject of History

History focuses on humans as social beings, their lives and acts in all areas of activity (political, social, economic, cultural), and on their development in relation to the physical and geographical environment.

The reconstruction of past processes with the help of surviving evidence constitutes the subject of history and the aim of historians. Historians are interested in locating and validating events, searching for causal relationships and interconnected data. By retrieving past processes humans become aware of their own evolution and therefore better know their own selves.

The Department of History, one of the two Departments of the Faculty of History and Archaeology, aims at an interpretative approach to historical phenomena and a global perception of History, in order to provide its students with scholarly skills and a deeper understanding of the human past. History, along with other fields, is an integral part of the humanities and should collaborate with these other fields. Therefore, besides the courses it offers (see below) the Department of History supplements its programme with courses offered by other Departments, mainly from the School of Philosophy.

Thus, the orientation of History, which is one of the two specialties offered to the students of the Faculty of History and Archaeology, provides its students with the tools required for research in and teaching of History, their two principal scientific and professional orientations.

II. The subject and fields of Archaeology and History of Art

The subject of Archaeology is the study of material remnants of humans, so as to understand and interpret the economic, social, political and cultural structures of the societies that produced them. When the study focuses on monuments of particular aesthetic value, then the field is named History of Art (Ancient, Medieval, Modern). These great works of art, which express the powerful personalities of their creators and the human world view of their respective age, complete our understanding of human history. The earlier view that the main purpose of Art History is to acquaint us with the important monuments and artifacts and their aesthetic appreciation has given way to a new historical approach towards the study of societies through representative works of art for each period.

Archaeology deals with all major past civilizations. At the University of Athens the teaching of Archaeology and Art History specializes in the following subjects:

1. Prehistoric Archaeology. The subject of Prehistoric Archaeology is the study of the material remnants of human activities from the emergence of humanity to the end of the Bronze Age (1100 BCE), mainly in the Eastern Mediterranean, and comprises the following broad periods:

  • Paleolithic Period
  • Neolithic Period
  • Early, Middle and Late Bronze Age (Helladic, Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean civilization: Cycladic Civilization, Civilization of NE Aegean Islands, Cypriot Civilization and Eastern Civilizations)

2. Classical Archaeology. The subject of Classical Archaeology is the study of the material remnants of human activities from the end of the Bronze Age to the end of Roman rule in the classical world and comprises the following broad periods:

  • Early period (Proto-geometric and Geometric period)
  • Archaic period
  • Classical period
  • Hellenistic period
  • Roman period.

3. Byzantine and Post-byzantine Archaeology. The subject of Byzantine Archaeology is the study of the material remnants of human activities from the appearance of Christianity to the fall of Constantinople; that of Post-byzantine Archaeology is the study of monuments and artifacts from the fall of Constantinople to the creation of the Greek state. This field comprises the following broad periods:

  • Early Christian period
  • Byzantine period (Early Byzantine, Middle Byzantine, Late Byzantine)
  • Post-byzantine period

4. History of Art in the Modern Period. The subject of the History of Art in the Modern Period is the study of the works of art in Modern Europe and America, of secular works of art in the Ottoman-ruled Greek lands, as well as works of art created after the Greek National Revolution. This field comprises the following units:

  • Modern European and American art
  • Modern Greek art

These fields cover the study of architecture, sculpture, painting, engraving, pottery, monumental topography, minor arts, crafts, numismatics, epigraphy.

The main professional orientation for archaeologists and art historians is employment by the State Archaeological Service, whose purpose lies in research and protecting monuments (location, presentation, study, preservation and display) as well as in organising museums and exhibitions of works of art.

The contribution of archaeologists and art historians towards the preservation of the country's historical and cultural features, has been of critical importance through the preservation of archaeological monuments and artifacts, traditional settlements and historical landscapes.

Archaeologists and art historians may also find employment at institutions of higher education and research institutes. Finally, secondary education absorbs a large proportion of graduates from the Faculty of History and Archaeology.

In general, education in archaeology and art history are the basis for aesthetic culture and historical sensibility. Indeed, according to the definition by Ernst Buschor “Archaeology examines the visible part of History.” Knowledge in archaeology complements the education of a teacher of literature, thanks to the correspondence and complementarity between information from written sources on the one hand and monuments on the other.

(Last update: 22/9/2019)

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