Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Mediterranean: Crossroads of Civilizations

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Faculty of Arts

DESCRIPTION The Mediterranean region has always been a melange of civilizations and, before the advent of modern technology, it played a most important role in facilitating encounters between these cultures (and it still does to a limited extent). This study-unit will explore cultural contacts between different Mediterranean civilizations in antiquity. To this end, we will look at a number of case studies, which will serve to highlight the different modes of interaction between different cultures as well as the different responses that peoples adopted when they came into contact with each other. The case studies will purposely cast a very wide net in order to underscore the multifaceted nature of cultural interaction in antiquity.

Different sessions will discuss topics such as trade and ports in the Mediterranean; the Phoenician and Greek presence in the western Mediterranean; encounters with Hellenism; the negotiation of identity in the Pax Romana; the Christianization of the Roman Empire; Jewish-Arab relations in late antiquity; and the spread of Islam. These, and other cultural interactions, will be explored by looking at various different themes, such as identity, religion, literature, art and architecture, material culture, food, clothing, etc.

Study-unit Aims:

• To explore cultural interactions between Mediterranean civilizations in antiquity, and to understand such interactions within different conceptual/theoretical frameworks;
• To highlight the role of the Mediterranean as a crossroads of civilizations, and to analyse the various ways through which this sea facilitated cultural contacts;
• To train students to adopt multi-disciplinary approaches in their research by integrating fields such as archaeology, history, anthropology, social sciences, geography, etc;
• To expose students to the various methodological and theoretical issues pertinent to the aforementioned fields of study as well as to any exploration of cultural interaction in antiquity.

Learning Outcomes:

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

• have a good understanding of the different modes of cultural interaction in antiquity, and of the different ways in which peoples responded when they came into contact with each other;
• integrate such analyses of cultural interaction in antiquity within different conceptual/theoretical frameworks;
• comprehend the role of the Mediterranean as a catalyst for cultural encounters and for the creation of various negotiated identities as a result of such contacts.

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

• adopt a critical approach to the sources;
• apply a multi-disciplinary approach in their research;
• engage in comparative studies;
• implement theoretical approaches in their research.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

The following are a few select books that are ideal as an introduction to the subject of this study unit in general or which, otherwise, offer a glimpse on the subject through a number of specific case studies. A detailed bibliography will be provided to students in class.

Abulafia, D. 2012 The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean, London: Penguin [Melitensia MZZ]
Dommelen van, P. and Knapp, A. B. (eds.) 2010 Material Connections in the Ancient Mediterranean: Mobility, Materiality and Identity, London: Routledge [CCN778.25 .M384]
Gruen, E. S. (ed.) 2010 Cultural Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean, Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute [DE71 .C85]
Horden, P. and Purcell, N. 2000 The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History, Oxford: Blackwell [DE59 .H66]


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 50%
Assignment SEM1 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Dennis Mizzi

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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.