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ARA8131 : Archaeologies of the Middle Sea: An Armchair Voyage Across the Prehistoric Mediterranean

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Andrea Dolfini
  • Lecturer: Dr Matthew Haysom
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


What made the Mediterranean Sea the centre of gravity for so many ancient civilisations? Who built megalithic temples on Malta and astounding palaces and sanctuaries on Crete? Who were the Mycenaeans? What triggered the transition from egalitarian to ranked societies? How did the earliest Etruscan and Greek cities arose, and why? The module will address these questions (among others) and explore the socio-political trajectories taken by Mediterranean communities and polities from the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition to the Iron Age, c.10,000 to 500 BC. As part of this fascinating armchair journey, we will explore as diverse themes as the spread of the Neolithic way of life; the emergence of social complexity in Copper Age Iberia; the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces at the end of the Bronze Age; and the emergence of urban societies in Iron Age Greece and Italy. The module is a blend of online and present-in-person activities including thematic lectures, seminars, readings, videos, and revision quizzes. The lectures present overviews of cultural frameworks and social developments; the seminars provide students with the opportunity to discuss current problems in later Mediterranean prehistory; and the online resources offer meaningful opportunities to test and deepen your knowledge. By the end of the semester, you will be conversant with the main cultural frameworks of later Mediterranean prehistory, major social developments occurring in this area from the Neolithic to the Iron Age, and selected problems of scholarly debate.
The aims of the module are:
• To provide students with a critical overview of cultural and social developments in the prehistoric Mediterranean, c.10,000-500 BC.
• To provide students with in-depth knowledge and understanding of selected themes and subjects in later Mediterranean prehistory.
• To provide students with a critical understanding of key social transformations in the prehistoric Mediterranean, with particular reference to the spread of the Neolithic way of life, the emergence of social complexity, and the rise of pre-classical urban societies.

Outline Of Syllabus

Themes explored during the module may include: Mediterranean landscapes and seascapes; the emergence and spread of the Neolithic way of life; the Copper Age in the central Mediterranean; the emergence of social complexity in Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Iberia; the Minoan and Mycenaeans civilisations; the Iron Age in Italy including the early Etruscans; and urbanism and state formation before classical Greece and Rome.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion361:0036:00Preparation of assessed powerpoint and essay
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials171:0017:00Contact recapped lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading361:0036:00Directed research and reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Synchronous timetabled seminars
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities112:0022:00Non-synchronous structured research activities, formative practice and skill enhancement
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00Synchronous timetabled student project presentations
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study731:0073:00Independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk12:002:00Module introduction session
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
ARA3100Archaeologies of the Middle Sea: An Armchair Voyage Across the Prehistoric Mediterranean
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures provide in-depth knowledge concerning key themes and topics. Seminars promote debate over, and critical evaluation of, the themes and topics covered in lectures. Workshops introduce the assessed student projects and offer class tutorials followed by Q&A. Student project presentations improve student communication skills and provide an opportunity for reviewed formative assessment. The student talk introduces the module. Structured research and reading activities including revision quizzes, exercises and online resources test student understanding and provide further opportunities for interactive learning.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A75Student project concerning a region, period or theme in later Mediterranean prehistory (2500 word essay)
Written exercise1M25Submitted PowerPoint presentation (15 slides including cover and bibliography slides)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1M15 minute class presentation of student project
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Student projects enable students to work originally, independently and in-depth on a theme, region or period of their choice in Mediterranean prehistory, from the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition to the emergence of classical civilisations. The project is split into two component: PowerPoint presentation (25%), which the students submit having received feedback during an oral presentation session (formative assessment), and a 2500 word essay developing the topic further and at greater critical depth (summative assessment).

Reading Lists