Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Technology and Mediterranean Societies

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Faculty of Arts

DESCRIPTION The history of humans and technology goes back millions of years, when stone was carefully fashioned to make the first tools. Technological developments and innovations – the plough or the mill, the sail or the wheel – have been of significant historical importance. Indeed, a historiographic tradition has assigned technology a revolutionary role in Mediterranean history. Why is this? How did technological innovation operate in the human articulation of Mediterranean regions and microregions? How does craft relate to science and technology?

These are some of the questions that will be tackled in a course that is built around various themes that are central to an understanding of Mediterranean societies: food production; water management; land and maritime connectivity; technologies of abstract ideas. This course requires no knowledge of science, but a willingness to try and understand a variety of concepts. The study-unit will be taught in an interactive style and a level of participation is expected during lectures.

Study-unit Aims:

• To offer graduate students a clear understanding of the complexities of technology, in terms of the history of development and innovation, and of the impact on Mediterranean societies generally;
• To confront a broad sweep of history in order to chart changes and continuties in the nature and impact of technology and highlight comparative differences between regions and microregions of the Mediterranean between different periods of history.

Learning Outcomes:

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

• comprehend the role played by technology in prehistory and history by means of comparative analysis of different historical periods and cultures;
• consider why some societies have displayed a higher rate of technogical progress than others;
• analyse primary sources and modern scholarly approaches;
• recongise a variety of evidential types, their potential and limitations.

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

• identify the range of available evidence in order to assess past technological innovations, and appraise how these changed over time and under the influence of what factors;
• identify how topics addressed in the study-unit relate to broader historical questions;
• evaluate the extent to which history is determined by technology and historical writing influenced by technological determinism.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

D. R. Headrick (2009) Technology: A World History. Oxford: Oxford University Press
M. R. Smith and L. Marx (1994) Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism. Cambridge, Mass: MIT
R. Friedel (2007) A Culture of Improvement: Technology and the Western Millennium. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
D. Turnbull (2000) Masons, Tricksters and Cartographers. London: Routledge
J.P. Oleson (ed) (2008) The Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Classical World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [T16.O9932]


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S John Charles Betts
Keith Buhagiar
Emanuel Buttigieg
Belinda Gambin
Timothy Gambin
Reuben Grima
Dennis Mizzi
Paul Sant Cassia
Nicholas Vella
Abigail Zammit (Co-ord.)

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.