Institute of Archaeology


Heritage Ethics and Archaeological Practice in the Middle East and Mediterranean

This module provides a comparative overview of key debates, as well as the frameworks of practice, policy and ethical issues in cultural heritage in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

Key themes include the history of archaeology in the region, museum practice, archaeology in conflict zones, disaster recovery,  illicit trade in antiquities, UNESCO politics, legislation, fieldwork ethics, site management, stakeholders and audience. Throughout the emphasis is on comparative, critical analysis of contemporary practices in heritage, and is grounded in real-world case-studies from the region. 

Aims and Objectives of the course

  • To provide an advanced, inter-disciplinary training in core debates in heritage in the Middle East and Mediterranean
  • To introduce students to the most important current research questions, main interpretative paradigms and key legislative frameworks in cultural heritage studies
  • To develop critical faculties both in debate and in written evaluation of current research (problems, method and theory, quality of evidence).
  • To engage students with the different forms of evidence (objects, monuments, texts) and to critically discuss their interpretative potential for the study region.
  • To examine how Middle Eastern and Mediterranean heritage is/ has been conceptualized in public contexts by different stake-holders in nation-states and transnationally, in the media, in museums and on sites
  • To explore alternative perspectives on, and roles in the production of archaeological knowledge and protection of cultural heritage
  • To prepare students to undertake fieldwork and research in the Mediterranean and Middle East. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course students should be able to: 

  • demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding of major themes and debates in cultural heritage today as they apply to the Mediterranean and Middle East
  • critically analyse and present complex arguments and theories about aspects of the subject orally and in writing for different audiences and stakeholders
  • show a critical awareness of the professional, ethical and legislative frameworks through which archaeology of the Mediterranean and Middle East is practiced and understood
  • gain insight into the diversity of stakeholders and audiences, as well as the need for cultural sensitivity in approaching heritage management
  • compare and analyse data across regional and chronological boundaries and apply acquired knowledge to real-world case-studies.

Teaching Methods

The course is taught through 10 two-hour seminars led by the co-ordinators with guest lecturers as appropriate. Students are provided with a reading list for each seminar, supported by Moodle. Each session will use applied case studies (linked to students individual interests) to address key theoretical issues. 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. 


25%: short research essay (1000 words); 75% research essay (3000 words). 

Course information

For registered students


  • Running in 2020-21