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Sacrificing to the Gods: Myth, Archaeology and Ancient Greek Religion

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We will explore the archaeology of Greek religion from prehistory to the Hellenistic period (c.3200-c.32 BCE), examining the relationship between myths and the evidence provided by the archaeological record.

We will investigate controversies old and new regarding the development, continuation, and duration of religious practices and beliefs, and try to understand the nature of ancient Greek religion.

You will gain an understanding of surviving archaeological evidence from across the period, considering its interpretation alongside literary sources from the classical period (510-323 BCE). In exploring ancient Greek religion in this way, we will examine the evidence presented in public and private architecture, in art such as wall painting, pottery, seals, figurines, and statues, and in the evidence provided by ancient Greek burials.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered through nine 2-hour sessions online. These sessions will consist of a mixture of lectures, audio-visual resources, class discussion and group work on specific topics relating to the module.

The discussion and group work will enable students to think critically and contribute to the debates and topics presented during the lectures.

Students will also be expected to read relevant printed material and use that as the basis for contributions in class.

The discussion-led sessions and the lectures will be supplemented by resources available to the students via Learning Central.


  1. Introduction: The Archaeology of Religion: Theory and Practice
  2. Bronze Age Religion
  3. Continuity and Discontinuity of Religious Practices and Beliefs
  4. Archaic Greece: Temples and Sanctuaries
  5. Myths, Gods, Festivals and Sacrifice
  6. Polis, Religion and Society
  7. Religion and Gender
  8. The Burial Record: Practices and Beliefs
  9. New Ideas and Debates about Religion in Classical Greece

Coursework and assessment

You will be expected to complete two pieces of assessed work:

  • a short critical review
  • a 1000-word essay.

There will be lots of help and support available for both assignments.

Reading suggestions

  • Burkert, W. 1985. Greek Religion: Archaic and Classical. Oxford: Blackwell
  • Insoll, T. 2004. Archaeology, Ritual, Religion. New York: Routledge
  • Mikalson, J. D. 2010.  Ancient Greek Religion. 2nd edition. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.