University of California, Riverside

Summer Study Abroad



2014 Italy


St. Peter's Basilica - Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Michele R. Salzman, UCR History

June 30 - July 26, 2014 

Rome:  The Eternal City 

“What is all history other than the praise of Rome?” – Petrarch

Rome offers undergraduate students a unique opportunity to study ancient history, literature, archaeology and art at first hand. By studying and visiting archaeological sites and museums, students can see the complexity, originality and contribution of the Romans through the physical remains of its culture. The city of Rome, the largest in the ancient Mediterranean world, was a multifaceted urban setting, the remains of which have influenced writers, thinkers, artists, architects and historians for centuries. The courses take advantage of the city to excite students, UCR, UC, and even non-UC students, as they engage with the Roman past.

History Courses offered: Both courses fulfill upper division requirements for History majors and general education requirements. No prerequisites required.

HIST. 190. Rome: The Eternal City. (4 credits). The course traces the growth of the city of Rome through its monuments, art, architecture, and literary remains.  Teaching this course in Rome is ideal, for we have direct access to the monuments and topography of the city, as well as its material culture.   The course is organized chronologically, beginning in the archaic period in the Roman Forum and on the Palatine Hill. It proceeds in week two to visit the victory temples and houses of the late Republic and early Augustan Age. In week three we study imperial Rome, with planned visits to the Forums of Augustus and Trajan, and the Pantheon. We also consider the entertainment venues that were part of imperial Rome, notably the Colosseum and Circus Maximus. We conclude in the fourth century with the monuments, Christian basilicas, and urban redevelopment of the city completed by the now Christian emperor Constantine.

By studying the changing topography of Rome, students can appreciate the historical as well as material contribution made by Roman civilization.  Guest lecturers by archaeologists will allow us to see the most recent discoveries that have come to light in Rome this year. Visits to sites will offer students the chance to see archaeologists at work and to get behind the scenes on-going excavations.  

As to formal requirements, students will be required to present one oral reports (one per student) on a site or monument that we are visiting. After they get feedback on their presentations, the students will turn their site reports into a term paper (5-7 pages).  A final exam will allow students to synthesize the major changes in Rome’s urban history. Research for the site reports can be carried out in Rome at the American Academy Library and at the library of the American University, both on the Janiculum Hill in Rome, as well as through the use of a variety of on-line digital databases and using the assigned readings.

HISE 110. Ancient Historians. (4 credits). This course considers the idea of history as it developed in ancient historical writings from the ancient Near East through the Mediterranean period. Because we are in Rome, we will focus on the writers of the Roman world, with special attention to the narrative histories of the Romans. These will include the Histories of Livy, Tacitus, and Ammianus Marcellinus. The class will meet in seminars to discuss the contribution of these texts to the historical development of historiography, and its relationship to modern historical thought. We will have weekly visits to relevant museums and archives to consider the material evidence – inscriptions, coins, calendars, documents – that ancient historians used to write history.

Students will be asked to keep a journal as they develop their understanding of the principal historians we discuss. Weekly journal entries (one-two pages) will be turned in.  Using these, and in conjunction with myself and the teaching assistant, students will write a 7-10 page term paper that discusses the origins, development and contribution of their chosen historian to the development of history or its contribution to modern historical thought.

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