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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: Island Worlds: Prehistoric Societies in the Mediterranean Sea from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age (PGHC11302)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe subject matter of the course complements that of others currently offered in Archaeology. It is an additional course, not a replacement. The course investigates island cultures and societies both in their own right, as independent entities, and with reference to adjacent landmasses in the ancient Mediterranean. The main case studies are drawn from Malta, Sicily, the Aeolian archipelago, Pantelleria, Corsica, Sardinia and the Balearics. Major themes for discussion are the earliest human colonisation of islands, and periods of conspicuous cultural development or florescence (including the temple period on Malta, the Nuraghic and Talayotic phases in Sardinia and the Balearics, the Late Bronze Age in Sicily). Particular attention is paid to explanations for cultural change in the light of theoretical propositions and debates about island worlds as specific and potentially divergent entities with distinct identities, or laboratories of cultural change, variously stimulated by isolation or contact. Attention is also paid to human interaction with particular landscapes and ecosystems, often of a fragile character.
Course description 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.
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 western Mediterranean from Malta to Minorca (ARCA10061) OR Island Worlds in Prehistory (Online) (PGHC11569) OR Island Worlds in Mediterranean Prehistory (ARCA10100)
Other requirements None
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
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 a detailed and critical command of the body of knowledge concerning the subject matter of the course;
  2. Demonstrate by way of coursework an ability to analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship concerning Mediterranean islands and their place in the wider context of Mediterranean archaeology;
  3. Demonstrate by way of coursework and seminar participation, an ability to understand and apply research skills to the investigation of the material covered in the course;
  4. Demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain original scholarly arguments in oral and written form in seminar discussions, presentations, and coursework by independently formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. Demonstrate, by way of seminar discussions, presentations, and written coursework, originality and independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Braudel, F. 1972. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II. Berkeley and London.

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.

Cherry, J.F. 2004. Mediterranean island prehistory: what's different and what's new? In S. Fitzpatrick (ed), Voyages of discovery. The archaeology of islands: 233-248. Westport, Praeger.

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

Fitzpatrick, S. 2004 (ed). Voyages of discovery. The archaeology of islands. Westport, Praeger.

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

Rainbird, P. 1999. Islands out of time: towards a critique of island archaeology. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 12: 216-234.

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 N.B. timetable is arranged annually
Course organiserDr Robert Leighton
Tel: (0131 6)50 8197
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Samson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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