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

Undergraduate Course: Island Worlds: prehistoric societies in the western Mediterranean from Malta to Minorca (ARCA10061)

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 course investigates a range of island societies, mainly in the Mediterranean, in selected prehistoric periods (from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age). With particular reference to a selection of islands (normally including, but not limited to, Cyprus, Malta, Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearics) we examine the earliest human colonisation of islands, and certain periods of conspicuous cultural development, such as the 'temple' period on Malta, and the Nuraghic and Talayotic phases in Sardinia and the Balearics.
Course description A range of evidence is considered, primarily from archaeological sites, including monumental architecture, figurines and symbolic visual imagery. We evaluate explanations for cultural change in the light of theoretical propositions and debates about island worlds as specific and potentially divergent entities, or laboratories, variously stimulated by isolation or contact.

Mediterranean islands, especially in prehistory, are sometimes regarded as laboratories of cultural change, where distinctive societies emerged in response to external stimuli or periods of isolation, while adapting to often fragile or circumscribed environments. This course first considers the potential in theory and practice for such a thing as island archaeology and investigates some recurrent themes, starting with island colonisations, and their implications. We continue with a series of case studies, focusing on those island societies that seem to have differed most strikingly from their mainland counterparts. One example is Malta in the so-called temple period (circa 3500-2400 BC), which is often regarded as a good example of very unusual cultural development in an isolated context. Sardinia in the Bronze Age is another island with remarkable stone architecture (most notably the Nuragic towers), along with advanced metal working as well as evidence for international contacts (oxhide ingots, Mycenaean pottery). Other case studies help to assess periods of conspicuous cultural development in the light of current theories and debates about, for example, socio-cultural evolution and identity, insularity versus connectivity. Finally, we consider one of the most iconic of the world's islands - Easter Island in the Pacific - and some controversies surrounding its significance for island archaeology.

The course comprises eleven class meetings (22 contact hours) and is equivalent to 20 credits. About 100 student study hours are recommended. Classes consist of single sessions, separated by a 5-minute interval, usually incorporating short presentations (20-40 minutes), discussion sessions (10-20 minutes) and some group-based collaborative work. Students may volunteer or be asked to give presentations (usually 10 minutes max, not assessed).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Island Worlds: Prehistoric Societies in the Mediterranean Sea from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age (PGHC11302) OR Island Worlds in Prehistory (Online) (PGHC11569) OR Island Worlds in Mediterranean Prehistory (ARCA10100)
Other requirements Pre-requisites: Archaeology 2A and 2B, or Honours entry to degrees in Classics, or equivalent.
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Archaeology courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Enrolments for this course are managed by the CAHSS Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department. All enquiries to enrol must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
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, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. Demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. Demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Broodbank, C. 2000. An Island Archaeology of the Cyclades. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Broodbank, C. 2006. The Origins and Early Development of Mediterranean Maritime Activity. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 19(2), 199-230.

Broodbank, C. 2013. The Making of the Middle Sea. A History of the Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World. Thames and Hudson.

Dawson, H. 2014. Mediterranean Voyages. The Archaeology of Island Colonization and Abandonment. Left Coast Press.

Evans, J.D. 1977. Island archaeology in the Mediterranean: problems and opportunities. World Archaeology, 9: 12-26.

Knapp, A. B. 2007. Insularity and island identity in the prehistoric Mediterranean. In Antoniadou, S. and Pace, A. (eds), Mediterranean Crossroads, 37-62. Athens.

Rainbird, P. 2007. The Archaeology of Islands. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Robb, J. 2001. Island identities: ritual, travel and the creation of difference in Neolithic Malta. European Journal of Archaeology 4: 175-202.

Skeates, R. 2010. An Archaeology of the Senses. Prehistoric Malta. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Gather information organize it coherently.
Compare differing sets of data and draw conclusions from them.
Critically evaluate different approaches and explanations.
Express ideas and arguments clearly orally and in writing.
Show independence, initiative, integrity and maturity in working with others, including peers, e.g. in group discussions or presentations.
Self-direct and organize learning, manage workload and work to a timetable.
Additional Class Delivery Information One 2-hour long meeting per week over 11 weeks, comprising a combination of short lectures, presentations and discussion sessions.
Course organiserDr Robert Leighton
Tel: (0131 6)50 8197
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Samson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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