This course explores the societies of the Aegean c. 1500-1100 BC within the framework of the wider Mediterranean and Near Eastern world.
Particular emphasis is placed on the societies of the Late Bronze Age, and the emergence, development and collapse of palace-based states in mainland Greece and the wider Aegean world.
Aims of the course
This course provides an in-depth survey of Aegean prehistory during the later Late Bronze Age (c. 1500-1100 BC), focusing on the emergence of complex societies on the Greek mainland and the developmental dynamics of Mycenaean palatial society. Drawing on the region’s exceptional wealth of archaeological data, and set within a theoretically informed, problem-oriented framework, the course critically explores alternative paradigms and aims to introduce students to current debates and potential avenues of research. It locates the Aegean relative to contemporary Mediterranean and Near Eastern societies, and thereby generates a link between traditionally separate fields. Themes of recurrent importance include social, political and economic organisation, material culture, trade and exchange, the archaeologies of ideology, cult and death, and the integration of textual and iconographic evidence with material data.
On successful completion of this course a student should:
- Have a solid overview of major developments and interpretative issues in later Aegean prehistory, with greater in-depth knowledge of topics on which s/he has written, and have a more general understanding of how the prehistoric societies of the Aegean region fit into a wider European and East Mediterranean context.
- Understand the main interpretative paradigms that have dominated the field, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, such that s/he is able to assess and criticise the structure or rationale of arguments in the current literature.
- Recognise a broad range of the material culture from the period, and understand its social, cultural or other significance as well as its interpretative potential.
- Be able to explore data from the later prehistoric Aegean using a wide range of theoretical approaches current in archaeology.
On completion of the course, students will have enhanced their skills in critical reading and reflection, become more fully aware of how to apply ideas and methods to bodies of data, and improved their peer-debating skills. They will have gained the background to define and pursue original research in Aegean prehistory.
The course is taught as a series of 10 weekly two-hour thematic seminars, to discuss and debate the issues. In addition, there is a voluntary museum visit to study relevant material in the British Museum; this will take place within Term II, at a time to be arranged for mutual convenience. Seminars have weekly essential readings, which students will be expected to have completed, in order to be able to follow and actively to contribute to the discussion.