Institute of Archaeology

Mediterranean Prehistory

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This course reunites the study and analysis of prehistoric societies around the Mediterranean basin into a coherent if diverse field of exploration. It takes a long-term perspective, ranging from the last Ice Age to the start of the 1st millennium BC, and a broad spatial approach, seeking to identify the overall trends and conditions that underlie local phenomena. Opening topics include the glacial Mediterranean, origins of seafaring, diverse early Holocene trajectories, including Levantine-European farming, and Neolithic and eastern Chalcolithic societies. The crux of the course is formed by the multiple transformations of the late 4th and 3rd millennium BC, including the environmental mediterraneanisation of the basin, the rise of the first complex societies and world-systemic relations in Egypt, the Levant and adjacent areas, and the equally new societies of Mediterranean Europe. Later sessions explore the Mediterranean during the 2nd millennium BC, comparing societies in the east, centre and west and the interactions between them. A final session examines the transition to the Iron Age Mediterranean and acts as a link to G202. This course is designed to dovetail closely with G206, which explores Mediterranean dynamics from a comparative perspective, and can be equally effectively taken in conjunction with courses in the prehistory of specific regions, such as the Aegean, Italy, the Levant, Anatolia and Egypt, as well as Europe and Africa.

Aims of the course

  • To provide advanced, well-rounded, inter-disciplinary training in the prehistory of the Mediterranean
  • To introduce students to the most important current research questions
  • To instruct students in critical analysis of current research (problems, method and theory, the quality of evidence, substantive results)
  • To recognise and interrogate the main classes of material, imagery and monuments in the early Mediterranean
  • To prepare students to undertake original research in Mediterranean prehistoric archaeology

Learning Outcomes

  • ability in reading and debate through assessment and evaluation of alternative interpretations, and presentation of reasoned conclusions
  • recognition of the linkages between data, methods and ideas
  • application of the methods and theories of inter-disciplinary analysis
  • skill in integrating a variety of evidence from different disciplines into overall interpretations
  • proficiency in the setting out information and ideas clearly in written form
  • preparation for designing and operationalising research topics in this field.

Teaching Methods

The course is taught through weekly seminars plus voluntary museum visits and practicals. Seminars have weekly recommended readings, which students will be expected to have done, to be able fully to follow and actively to contribute to discussion.

Course information

For registered students


  • Running in 2017-18

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