Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Prehistory of the Western Mediterranean: Sicily and Sardinia

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Classics and Archaeology

DESCRIPTION This study-unit is about the prehistory of one part of Europe, the western Mediterranean, with the main attention devoted to two major islands: Sicily and Sardinia. Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, provides one of the most variegated archaeological records from prehistory, a veritable melting-pot of cultures (indigenous, Greek and Phoenician) with numerable contacts with satellite islands (namely, the Egadi, the Aeolian, the Pelagic, and the Maltese) and the mainland. With its size and position, in the centre of the western half of the Mediterranean Sea, Sardinia - the second largest island after Sicily - became an attraction for a number of foreign powers since antiquity: its obsidian was the chief attraction in the Neolithic, while its fertile plains became the granaries of Carthage and imperial Rome. And yet, Bronze Age Sardinia saw the rise of an astonishing indigenous culture characterised by towers (nuraghi), well-temples (templi a pozzo) and Giants' tombs (tombe dei giganti).

The study-unit looks at the archaeology of Sicily and Sardinia diachronically from their first colonisation by humans down to the Iron Age. The lectures are built around themes (such as settlement, ritual, socio-political organisation, metallurgy, trade) for the major periods considered.

Study-unit Aims

The study-unit aims to:
1. Define what sets the archaeology of islands apart from the archaeology of other regions;
2. Define the cultural manifestations of both islands diachronically;
3. Explore the main underlying factors that allowed islands to shape early Mediterranean history.

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Define the differing viewpoints and interpretative paradigms surrounding the archaeology of islands;
2. Gain a sound overview of the two islands' chronological phases and recognise a range of the cultural manifestations of early societies on these islands (such as major settlement forms, anthropogenic landscapes, material culture, monuments and seafaring technology).

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

1. Read critically and relate ideas and theories to material remains of the past;
2. Deploy archaeological data to answer questions of significance beyond the history of Sicily and Sardinia (for instance, the archaeology of other islands, including Malta);
3. Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the archaeological evidence presented with the aim of identifying topics for further study and research.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

Dyson, S.L. and Rowland R.J. (2007) Shepherds, Sailors and Conquerors: Archaeology and History in Sardinia from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. [UOM Main Library/Faculty of Arts Library DEG55.S2 D97]
Leighton, R. (1999) Sicily before History: An Archaeological Survey from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age. London: Duckworth. [UOM SLC/Faculty of Arts Library CCN818.S5 L45]

Additional reading material will be provided in class.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 40%
Assignment 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 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.