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

Undergraduate Course: Island Worlds in Mediterranean Prehistory (ARCA10100)

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
SummaryMediterranean (and other) islands are often perceived as unusual contexts of cultural development, where distinctive societies emerged, responding in various ways to external stimuli or prolonged periods of isolation, while adapting to fragile or circumscribed environments. This course investigates selected themes and case studies in the light of current theories and debates about island archaeology, with a focus on insularity, connectivity and identity, and on those island societies that differ most strikingly from their continental contemporaries.
Course description 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 across the Mediterranean. We then explore a series of case studies, focusing on island societies that have differed strikingly from their mainland counterparts. One example is Malta in the so-called temple period (circa 3500-2400 BC). Another is Sardinia in the Copper and Bronze Ages, an island with remarkable stone monuments (e.g. rock-cut tombs and Nuragic towers), along with advanced metal working and evidence for international contacts. Other case studies help to assess periods of conspicuous cultural development in the light of current theories and debates about, for example, insularity, connectivity and identity. The course also has a recurrent focus on 'ritual' and ritual monuments. Finally, we consider one of the most iconic of the world's islands -- Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the Pacific -- and some controversies surrounding its significance for island archaeology.

Key skills: How To: use and combine different types of evidence (archaeological, textual, science-based); deal with controversies and competing hypotheses; utilise relevant theoretical models and methodologies; evaluate past and present research traditions and approaches; critique effectively and fairly.
Skills to develop/enhance: Initiative, e.g. capacity for independent study/research; expression and communication (written, oral and visual).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Archaeology 2A: Scotland before History (ARCA08013) AND Archaeology 2B: Archaeology in Action (ARCA08012)
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Island Worlds: prehistoric societies in the western Mediterranean from Malta to Minorca (ARCA10061) OR Island Worlds: Prehistoric Societies in the Mediterranean Sea from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age (PGHC11302) OR Island Worlds in Prehistory (Online) (PGHC11569)
Other requirements 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.

** 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 knowledge and understanding of relevant themes and debates characteristic of island archaeology
  2. utilise and evaluate critically a range of different categories of archaeological (including environmental) evidence
  3. understand geographical characteristics of the Mediterranean region
  4. recognise and focus on key aspects and case studies in island archaeology
  5. show time management skills and undertake self-directed learning using a range of bibliographic and other (eg internet) resources
Reading List
Broodbank, C. 2006. The Origins and Early Development of Mediterranean Maritime Activity. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 19(2), 199-230.

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

Dawson, H. 2019. Island archaeology. C. Smith (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology, 1-8.

Hamilton, S. 2013. Rapa Nui (Easter Island)'s Stone Worlds. Archaeology International 16.

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

Leighton, R. 1999. Sicily before History. London/New York, Bloomsbury/Cornell University Press.

Leighton, R. 2022. Nuraghi as Ritual Monuments in the Sardinian Bronze and Iron Ages (circa 1700-700 BC). Open Archaeology, 8: 229-255.

Patton, M. 1996. Islands in Time. Island sociogeography and Mediterranean prehistory. London and New York: Routledge.

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

Skeates, R. 2010. An Archaeology of the Senses. Prehistoric Malta. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Initiative; in particular, the capacity for independent study/research

Proficiency in finding and using appropriate research sources (library, internet, museum)

Skills of literacy and communication in written work, oral discussion and using visual imagery

The ability to evaluate critically and creatively empirical evidence, methods and theories, and to construct well-supported hypotheses

Ability to identify research themes and trends
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Robert Leighton
Tel: (0131 6)50 8197
Course secretary
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