Skip Navigation

Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: HIST611 Course ID: 3259 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course is a study of warfare in the ancient world with emphasis on the great empires of the Near East and the Mediterranean, particularly the Greeks and Romans. Student examine the origins of warfare in the Neolithic period to the decline and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century. Special emphasis will be placed on the military history of Mesopotamia and the Near East (Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Hittite, Assyrian and Persian), Egypt (Old, Middle and New Kingdom), Greece (Mycenaean, Archaic, Hellenic and Hellenistic) and Rome(Republican and Imperial). The phalanx, the legion, Greek Fire and the importance of roads are discussed in detail.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
02/22/21 - 07/30/21 08/02/21 - 09/26/21 Summer 2021 Session I 8 Week session
04/26/21 - 10/01/21 10/04/21 - 11/28/21 Fall 2021 Session B 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

Examine the link between the emergence of urban civilizations and organized armies Analyze the organization of various armies and their effectiveness

Assess the development of the chariot and cavalry as part of armies

Evaluate the development of fortifications and siege weapons and techniques to capture them

Examine the development of two distinctive forms of ancient warfare, the Greek phalanx and the Roman legion

Analyze the origins and role of naval power in the history of the Mediterranean Assess the rise and fall of various ancient imperial powers

Examine various important battles of antiquity and evaluate the various factors that led to victory or defeat

Deconstruct some of the myths of ancient warfare

There will be three types of graded activities in this course – Discussion Forum postings, Read- ing Opinion Essays, and a Research Proposal and Paper. The breakdown of each activity, in terms of points and percentage of the overall course grade, is given in the table at the end of this section. A brief description of each of these activities follows. For more complete in- formation on the work, see the Assignments section as well as the folders in the Resources section of the course site. The Assignments section will have due dates and point values for the assignments, and the Resources section will have folders with instructions and samples of the assignments for viewing. All of the various assignments are intended to promote and pro- voke critical and analytical thinking on the part of the students, not simply to regurgitate facts. Assignments may be turned in before the required due date.

The Forum discussion topics are the most frequent of the graded assignments. There will be a total of four different group topics, one every other week, beginning along with the Virtual Introduction of the first week. See the Course Outline section of this syllabus, as well as the Calendar and Forums sections of the class site for the due dates. The first topic will begin the first week of the term, and will continue until the due date listed in this syllabus, when the next topic will begin. Participation in the discussion topics will be graded on both the number and the quality of a student’s postings. Students will be expected to post both an Initial Response to the instructor’s original subject/questions, as well as at least two Respons- es / Replies to other student’s posts.

The Initial Post for a given topic will be due the first Sunday of the two week period, while the Responses will be due the following Sunday. For example, for the first topic, the Initial Post will be due at the end of Week #1, and the Responses for that topic due at the end of Week #2. The topics will be developed in part to encourage the students to do the assigned reading, but also to provoke further investigation, research and thought about the subjects. Initial Response posts are expected to be at least 500 words in length, while Response posts are expected to be at least 250 words each, although in both cases they may be longer. All Forum posts are expected to be substantive, and to reference readings, both the assigned texts as well as outside reading. For further information on the discussion groups and the ex- pectations for them, see the Instructions in the Discussion folder in the Resources portion of the class site.

The Reading Opinion Essays will be based on the various books assigned as course reading. Note that while these essays will discuss the books assigned, they are NOT traditional “book reviews”. The point of the Reading Opinion Essays is to discuss your personal reaction to the book – what you felt about it, what you liked and didn’t like, and why. These essays are not intended to be an objective analysis of the book, but rather a purely personal reaction to it.

The purpose of these assignments is to help students understand and identify the degree to which their own personal reaction to a book influences their analysis of it.

The Reading Opinion Essays are to be a minimum of three full pages of text, exclusive of the required title page and any end matter. Complete instructions for the Essays may be found in the Writing Assignments / Opinion Essays folder in the Resources section of the class site.

The research proposal and paper constitutes the largest single portion of the graded assigned work. The proposal will be due at the end of Week 3, and the paper will be due at the end of the course, the end of Week 8. The paper will be a minimum of 15 pages of text, exclu- sive of title page, notes, or bibliography, although it may be longer. The paper must be about some aspect of ancient warfare. The paper subject could be a biographical study, an exami- nation of a battle or war, a look at the military system of a particular culture or empire, or the design and use of a particular type of weapon – almost anything that relates to the period between the beginning of warfare during the Summerian Empire and the fall of the western Roman Empire.

Instructions for the paper and proposal, and an example of the format for the proposal can be found in the Writing Assignments / Research Paper folder in the Resources section of the class site. The annotated bibliography in the Bibliography folder in the Resources section, as well as the bibliographies in the course texts can serve as a starting point for the research for these papers. The paper should follow the appropriate guidelines for form and style listed in the Policies section of this syllabus. There is also a Research and Writing Tools folder in the Resources section containing a PDF file of the US Army’s Center for Military History’s official Writing Manual – an excellent resource for working on the paper.

For students with a more interactive bent, there is an option that can be used in place of the traditional research paper. This involves purchasing and installing a computer simulation, one of AEGOD’s Alea Jacta Est games. These simulations cover the range of Roman military histo- ry, from the Birth of Rome to wars in the East against Parthia. The student will be required to to write two After Action Reports (AAR) based on this simulation, one covering the tutorial and one covering a campaign of the student’s choosing. The tutorial AAR is substituted for the proposal, and the AAR on the larger campaign substitutes for the research paper. The grade for these AARs is based not on the results of the simulation, but on how well the stu- dent reports on what has happened and what they learn from the experience. Further details on these optional alternate assignments can be found in the Game folder in the Resources section of the class site. If a student wishes to choose this option, they must inform the in- structor before the end of Week 2. For further questions about this option, contact the in- structor.

NameGrade %
Discussion Forums Virtual Introduction
Forum Topic #1 - Initial Post Forum Topic #1 - Responses
Forum Topic #2 - Initial Post Forum Topic #2 - Responses
Forum Topic #3 - Initial Post Forum Topic #3 - Responses
Forum Topic #4 - Initial Post Forum Topic #4 - Responses
Reading Opinion Essays Textbook Opinion Essay # 1 - Matthew
Textbook Opinion Essay # 2 - Noble Textbook Opinion Essay # 3 - Nossov
Textbook Opinion Essay # 4 - Casson Research Paper
Paper Proposal Research Paper
Optional Extra Credit Opinion Essay Optional Extra Credit Opinion Essay

Optional Extra Credit Reading

Matyszak, Philip Legionary: The Roman Soldier’s Unofficial Manual Thames and Hudson, 2009 978-0500251515 Hard Cover

Recommended Books

Campbell, Duncan B. Besieged: Siege Warfare in the Ancient World Osprey Publishing, 2006 978-1846030192 Hard Cover

Connolly, Peter Greece and Rome at War Frontline Books, 2016 978-1848329416 Soft Cover

Drews, Robert The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe CA. 1200 B.C Princeton University Press, 1995 978-0691025919 Soft Cover

Goldsworthy, Adrian In the Name of Rome: The Men Who Won the Roman Empire

Phoenix Press, 2004 978-0753817896 Soft Cover

Goldsworthy, Adrian The Complete Roman Army Thames & Hudson, 2011 978-0500288993 Soft Cover

Goldsworthy, Adrian The Fall of Carthage: The Punic Wars, 265 - 146 BC Cassell, 2007 978-0304366422 Soft Cover

Hackett, Sir John (editor) Warfare in the Ancient World Facts on File, 1989 978-0816024599 Hard Cover

Hamblin, William J. Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC: Holy Warriors at the Dawn of History Routledge, 2006 978-0415255899 Soft Cover

James, Simon Rome and the Sword: How Warriors and Weapons Shaped Roman History

Thames & Hudson, 2011 978-0500251829 Hard Cover

Lendon, J.E. Soldiers & Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity Yale Universi- ty Press, 2005 978-0300119794 Soft Cover

Matthew, Christopher An Invincible Beast: Understanding the Hellenistic Pike-Phalanx at War Pen and Sword, 2015 978-1783831104 Hard Cover

Sage, Michael M. Warfare in Ancient Greece: A Sourcebook Routledge, 1996 978-0415143554 Soft Cover

Spalinger, Anthony J. War in Ancient Egypt Blackwell Publishing, 2005 978-1405113724 Soft Cover

Strassler, Robert B. The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Pelopon- nesian War The Free Press, 1996 978-0684828152 Hard Cover

Warry, John Warfare in the Classical World University of Oklahoma Press, 1995 978-0806127941 Soft Cover

The above Recommended books are just that – books that are recommended as a means of increasing a student’s knowledge of the subject of Ancient Warfare. In particular, they provide a greater depth and focus, or an alternate perspective, on areas that are not dealt with extensively in the course readings. Students are not required to read any of these books, these titles are provided as a means for further understanding of the subject. This list is by no means inclusive. For a more complete list of additional works, see the Annotated Bibliography in the Resources section of the class site.

Optional Resources (Recommended)

  • Marius, Richard. A Short Guide to Writing about History. NY: Longmans, 1999.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Department of History and Military Studies requires conformity with the traditional University of Chicago Style Manual and its Turabian offshoot. Cita- tions will follow traditional endnote or footnote attribution. Do not use parenthetical (MLA) variation.

Copyright/Fair Use Notice: Electronic readings may be provided by way of licensed materials in the Online Library, but also in keeping with Fair Use exemptions for edu- cational purposes under U.S. Copyright Law.


In addition to the required course texts the following public domain Websites are useful. Please abide by the university’s academic honesty policy when using Internet sources as well. Note web site addresses are subject to change.

Website for a magazine devoted to ancient warfare

West Point atlas for ancient warfare, Greco-Roman


Website for ancient military history, generally neglects Bronze Age

Site for podcasts on various ancient warfare topics magazine/

Osprey Publishing, focused on ancient warfare. They do an enormous number of specialized titles about almost every aspect of ancient warfare ancient-warfare

Greek hoplite reenactor website

Home site for the Society of Ancient Military Historians

Ancient Hoplitkon, Greek reenactor website

British Roman Legion reenactor website

British Late Period Roman military reenactor websaite

Trireme Trust - web site for a group researching Greek warships, who built a modern replica

Collection of links about military history. Extensive section on a wide variety of ancient warfare topics

Web sources for military history, significant ancient topics mil-2012.html#J

Website for Greek artillery, battlefield and siege CatapultTypes.html

Smithsonian documentary on the siege of Masada 0/3417626

Copyright/Fair Use Notice: Electronic readings may be provided by way of licensed materials in the Online Library, but also in keeping with Fair Use exemptions for educational purposes under U.S. Copyright Law.

Book Title:The Ancient Mariners:Seafarers and Sea Fighters of the Mediterranean in Ancient Times, 2nd ed. (Ebook available through the APUS Online Library)
Publication Info:Princeton University Press
Author:Lionel Casson
Unit Cost:$38.90
Book Title:A Storm of Spears: Understanding the Greek Hoplite at War (Ebook available through the APUS Online Library)
Publication Info:Casemate Publishers
Author:Christopher Matthew
Unit Cost:$32.79
Book Title:Dawn of the Horse Warriors: Chariot and Cavalry Warfare, 3000-600BC
Publication Info:Pen and Sword
Author:Duncan Noble
Unit Cost:$36.35
Book Title:Ancient and Medieval Siege Weapons: A Fully Illustrated Guide To Siege Weapons And Tactics
Publication Info:Lyons Press
Author:Konstantin Nossov
Unit Cost:$21.35

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.