Joel T Walker
Examines various topics in the transformation of the ancient world from the third-century crisis of the Roman Empire to the rise of Islamic civilization. Serves as the field course for masters and Ph.D. students.
Bull of Heaven and Earth: Animals and Religion in the Ancient World
This graduate seminar explores the role of animals in the religions of the ancient world, defined here as the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Europe from prehistory to the Christianization of the Roman Empire. By focusing on cattle — one of the largest species of domesticated animals and thus among the most prestigious sacrificial victims — we will be able to investigate a cluster of fundamental issues for the study of antiquity. These issues include: animal domestication and its consequences; the origins and rituals of animal sacrifice; the role of animals in ancient agriculture and diet; the place of animals (specifically, bulls and cattle) in ancient myth, imagination, and literature; and the critique and then prohibition of animal sacrifice in late antiquity. To examine these questions, we will combine close reading of a wide range of modern scholarship with analysis of primary sources, both texts and objects.
Syllabus available upon request (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
This is a graduate level seminar. It will combine in-class discussion with student presentations on particular sites and monuments.
Substantial undergraduate and/or graduate coursework in Greek or Roman history, early Christianity, or late antiquity. Students with relevant ancient and/or modern languages will be strongly encouraged to use for seminar preparation and research.
Class assignments and grading
Two short papers, 4-5 pages in length. Participants will also be expected to give one formal research presentation.
Participation and presentations 50% Short essays 50%