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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: Seafaring and Society in the Ancient Greek World (ANHI10097)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe history of the Greeks is bound up with the Mediterranean and Black Seas: from an early period the highly indented coastline of Greece made sea travel the preferred means of travel, and the Greeks pioneered the shipbuilding technology that led to their settlements being spread widely across the Mediterranean littoral. Seamanship also played a crucial role in the defeat of the Persians at Salamis in 480 and the Athenian Empire that grew not long afterwards. This course aims to explore the Greeks' relationship with the sea through the study of environment, technology, and human knowledge.
Course description 'Like ants or frogs around a pond' - so wrote Plato (Phaedo 109), describing the inhabitants of the Mediterranean and Black Sea. The sea is a central element in Greek history. Mastery of seafaring and shipbuilding technology enabled Greek settlement to spread far beyond the confines of the Aegean; this same technology played a fundamental linking role in Greek interaction with non-Greek cultures, turning the sea from a barrier into a highway that sped goods, people, and ideas between and beyond the city-states. It also enabled the projection of power: the use of the sea for violent means enabled (e.g.) Greece's defence against the Persians to succeed, Athens' fifth-century maritime empire to be built, and Alexander's successors to compete for naval dominance of the Eastern Mediterranean. This course aims to explore how all of this worked at a practical level from the Archaic through Hellenistic periods: what was the nature of maritime technology in Greece, and how did it change over time? How did the conjunction of winds, currents, technology, and knowledge shape the pattern of Greek settlement? How did investment in maritime technology shape Greek city states - whether through the benefits of trade, or through the need to invest in expensive naval technology (and the infrastructure, both physical and fiscal, to support it) and outcompete neighbouring powers? What was life like for the many Greeks who gained their livelihood from the sea? How did maritime trade work in practice? And how did exploration by sea enlarge the mental horizons of the Greeks and their perception of the wider world?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Seafaring and Society in the Ancient Greek World (Online) (PGHC11554)
Other requirements The course is available to all students who have progressed to Honours.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics, History or Archaeology at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a sound knowledge of ancient Greek seafaring and key issues considered in the course.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to assimilate a variety of ancient sources (textual, archaeological, iconographic), compare them, and formulate critical opinions on them.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to make informed contributions to class discussion.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to read, analyse, contextualise, and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence.
Reading List
Broodbank, C. 2013. The Making of the Middle Sea: A history of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World. Oxford.

Casson, L. 1995. Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World. Revised edition. Baltimore, MD.

De Souza, P., Arnaud, P. & C. Buchet (eds.) 2017. The Sea in History: The Ancient World. Suffolk & Rochester.

Ford, B., Hamilton, D.L. & A. Catsambis (eds.) 2013. The Oxford Handbook of Maritime Archaeology. Oxford.

Horden, P. & N. Purcell. 2000. The Corrupting Sea. Oxford.Malkin, I. 2011. A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford & New York.

Morrison, J. (ed.) 1995. The Age of the Galley. London.

Morrison, J.S. & R.T. Williams, 1968. Greek Oared Ships. Cambridge.

Murray, W.M. 2012. Age of Titans. The Rise and Fall of the Great Hellenistic Navies. Oxford.

Parker, A.J. 1992. Ancient Shipwrecks of the Mediterranean & the Roman Provinces. Oxford.

Roller, D.W. 2015. Ancient Geography: The Discovery of the World in Ancient Greece and Rome. London.

Steffy, J.R. 1994. Wooden Ship Building and the Interpretation of Shipwrecks. College Station, TX.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical skills in reading and debate through engagement with alternative approaches and ideas.
Skills in reading inclusively and democratically.
Skills in questioning established norms.
Independent thinking and planning through self-directed coursework.
Familiarity with a broad range of evidence.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr David Lewis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3851
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Samson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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