93160 - Trade and Consumption in Antiquity (Lm)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Archaeology and Cultures of the Ancient World (cod. 8855)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have acquired the interpretative tools to analyse the phenomena of trade and consumption in the ancient world, including the different theoretical and methodological approaches devised by international research in the last few decades. Students will have the necessary critical tools to reflect on the case studies presented, adopting a diachronic and diatopic perspective and various angles of study. They will understand the different implications of trade and consumption in Antiquity, not only as historical and economic phenomena, but also insofar as they connect to the circulation of ideas, cultural models and social behaviours and are thus linked to reconstructing the identity of ancient societies. They will deal critically with the archaeological record and know how to set up research in this field of study.

Course contents

The course addresses the study of consumption as a cultural practice which can be a significative research tool to interpret material culture and, more in general, ancient societies from new perspectives.

Through the multi-disciplinary methodology approach, which characterises consumption studies in the latest few decades, different archaeological case studies will be presented, with reference to the Greek world and the Mediterranean area in the first Millennium BCE.

The first part of the course will be devoted to outline the theoretical and methodological framework of consumption studies in social sciences, and particularly in archaeology.

The topics covered in the second part of the course will be circulation and consumption of commodities in the following areas:

- colonies of Western Mediterranean (south of France, Iberian Peninsula) and pre-roman Italy as examples which can illuminate the relationship between colonialism and consumption;

- Athens and Attica which can be seen as significative case studies to deepen another field of consumption studies: the use of food and alcool to create social identity and political relationships. Through a diachronic perspective (from the Dark Age to the Hellenistic period), archaeological contexts and material assemblages will be examined in order to read feasts (symposion and banqueting) as social and political practices.


Students attending classes and non attending classes:

M. Dietler, Consumption, in D. Hicks, Mary C. Beaudry (edd.), The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies, Oxford 2011, pp. 209-228;

Paul R. Mullins, The Archaeology of Consumption, in Annual Review of Anthropology, n. 40, 2011, pp. 134-144;

Philipp W. Stockhammer, Conceptualizing Cultural Hybridization in Archaeology, in Philipp W. Stockhammer (ed.), Conceptualizing Cultural Hybridization. A Transdisciplinary Approach, Heidelberg 2012, pp. 43-58.

Southern France:

M. Dietler, Consumption, Agency, and Cultural Entaglement: Theoretical Implications of a Mediterranean Colonial Encounter, in J. Cusick (ed.), Studies in Culture Contact: Interaction, Culture Change, and Archaeology, Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, 1998, pp. 288-315.

Athens and Attica:

Floris van den Eijnde, Power Play at the Dinner Table: Feasting and Patronage between Palace and Polis in Attika, in Floris van den Eijnde Josine H. Blok Rolf Strootman (eds.), Feasting and Polis Institutions, Leiden-Boston 2018, pp. 60-92; 

Kathleen M. Lynch, Drinking Cups and the Symposium at Athens in the Archaic and Classical Periods, in Kevin F. Daly-Lee Ann Riccardi (eds.), Cities called Athens. Studies Honoring John McK. Camp II, 2014, pp. 231-271.

Only students not attending classes are going to add:

Justin St P. Walsh, Consumerism in the Ancient World: Imports and Identity Construction, London-New York 2014

or the following texts (A+B)

A) A. Alexandridou, Feasting in Early Iron Age Attika. The Evidence from the Site of the Academy, in Floris van den Eijnde Josine H. Blok Rolf Strootman (eds.), Feasting and Polis Institutions, Leiden-Boston 2018, pp. 28-59.

B) 2 chapters from each of the following texts, to be concurred with the teacher:

M. Dietler, Archaeologies of Colonialism. Consumption, Entaglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, 2010.

E. Gailledrat, R. Plana Mallart, M. Dietler, The Emporion in the Ancient Western Mediterranean. Trade and Colonial Encounters from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Period, 2018.

Teaching methods

The course will be structured in 15 lessons, 2hrs each.

Part of each lesson will be devoted to collective discussions on texts and topics introduced by the teacher.

The last lesson(s) will be dedicated to the presentation of the student's work.

Students with special learning needs will be supported during the course and during the studying for the exam, through individual meetings with the teacher.

Please inform the teacher about personal needs at the beginning of the course, either in person or by e-mail.

For those students who are interested, there will be the opportunity to integrate the course within the educational programmes offered by the Department, such as excavation, laboratory and internship practice. In order to participate to these latter activities, students will be required to attend Modules 1 and 2 [e-learning mode: https://www.unibo.it/it/servizi-e-opportunita/salute-e-assistenza/salute-e-sicurezza/sicurezza-e-salute-nei-luoghi-di-studio-e-tirocinio ] and Module 3 concerning specific training on safety and health in workplaces.

Further details on attendance of Module 3 can be found in the specific section of the website for each course of study.

Assessment methods

Attending students:

The evaluation will be based on:

- knowledge of topics covered during the lessons and in bibliography;

- participation to collective discussions;

- presentation and written essay on a specific topic agreed with the teacher. The subject of this work will be decided with the teacher and it will regard the topics covered during the lessons. The work will be structured in two phases: an oral presentation and an essay. The first phase consists of a 15-minutes' presentation of the work in progress, in front of the class, during which each student will receive his/her feedback. After this, the student is required to deliver a written essay, at least two weeks before the exam date. 

Non attending students:

The evaluation consists on an oral examination, during which the teacher is going to ask questions related to those topics covered in the bibliography. 


 Those students who demonstrate to have a systematic perspective of topics covered during lectures and/or in the above-mentioned bibliography, mastering them critically, also by using field-specific terms, will be given a mark of excellence. A mnemonic knowledge of the subject with the ability to synthetize/analize, with correct, although not always field-specific command of the language will be rewarded with a 'fair' mark. Those students who demonstrate minimal knowledge of the subject, showing gaps and/or inappropriate command of the specific language will be given a pass mark or just above the pass mark. Significant knowledge gaps, insufficient field-specific language, lack of those abilities to frame correctly the covered topics and to orientate themselves among the bibliographical materials will not be given a pass mark.

Teaching tools

During classes, the teacher is going to use power point presentations. Illustrative (digital) material is going to be available for attending students at the end of the course through username and password at "Virtuale" platform - University of Bologna.

Office hours

See the website of Vincenzo Baldoni


Quality education Responsible consumption and production

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.