Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Human Evolution and Prehistory

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Classics and Archaeology

DESCRIPTION This is an introductory study-unit on prehistory with a focus on the Mediterranean, taking a long-term perspective that ranges from early human evolution to the rise of the first literate societies. The first part of the course tackles human evolution and adaptation, focusing on selected aspects of physical anthropology and prehistoric archaeology as they relate to the origin of humanity, the origin of culture, and the development of human biological and cultural diversity. A site visit to Ghar Dalam (Malta) is scheduled. The second part of the study-unit looks at Neolithic cultural manifestations in the Mediterranean and will include various topics such as the origins of seafaring, island colonisation, lithic technologies, trade, the material expression of ritual and cult, settlements, and megalithic monuments.

Study-unit Aims

The study-unit is intended to:
1. Introduce students to the rich variety of non-written evidence (including artefacts, imagery and settlement data) that allows archaeologists to reconstruct the major stages in the evolution of humans;
2. Introduce students to the most important current research questions and substantive results;
3. Instruct students in critical analysis of current research (problems, method and theory, dating);
4. Highlight generalities and variability of prehistoric cultures in the Mediterranean.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. Recognise the behaviour signatures associated with hominids and early humans;
2. Demonstrate a knowledge of the main chronological divisions in early Mediterranean prehistory;
3. Relate primary archaeological evidence with reconstructions of past events;
4. Recognise the main classes of material, imagery, and monuments in the early Mediterranean;
5. Present archaeological arguments clearly in written form and back them with relevant evidence and source material.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. Read and debate through assessment and evaluation of alterative interpretations;
2. Show proficiency in the setting out of information and ideas clearly in written form;
3. Develop skills in integrating a variety of evidence from different disciplines into overall interpretations.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

Scarre, C. (ed.) (2009) The Human Past. World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies. 2nd edition. London: Thames and Hudson. [UOM SLC GN281.H85]
Blake, E. and Knapp, A. B. (eds) 2005. The Archaeology of Mediterranean Prehistory. Oxford: Blackwell [UOM CCN848.B53]



Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 40%
Examination (1 Hour) SEM1 Yes 60%

LECTURER/S Nicholas Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.