BA Latin and Linguistics

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
The Making of the Mesopotamian and Mediterranean Worlds.

Unit code CAHE10131
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Archaeology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course explores those ancient societies that inhabited the region of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, the cradle of Western civilization, prior to the great Classical civilisations of the Greek and Roman world. Focusing on key sites, major socio-economic developments and an analysis of scholarly narratives, the course broadly follows a chronological sequence from the very earliest appearance of archaic humans in the Palaeolithic to the end of the Bronze Age and the demise of the colourful Mycenaean civilization, the earliest Greeks.


This course aims to deliver a broad overview of the archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia and as well as introduce some of the concepts and topics that have structured archaeological thought in recent years. The course covers a wide chronological range, from the earliest humans to the end of the Bronze Age. It will focus on key debates and questions in this region’s archaeology: eg. How was this region first colonized by humans? How did mortuary practices change over time? Why did people adopt agriculture? How and why did city states emerge? How are these states organised? What contacts and connections existed between the different countries? And can we trace the beginnings of the Classical Civilisations back to prehistory?

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students should/will be able to:





Conceptualising the ancient world

biophysical and cultural background

The historical narrative of research.

The tourist gaze

Neanderthals and Homo sapiens:

Environmental change and routes out of Africa

The relationship between humans and animals

Making use of opportunities:

Epipalaeolithic and Mesolithic adventurers

Colonising land and sea

The Neolithic Revolution:

From hunting/gathering to farming

Unpicking the Neolithic

The Neolithic in practice:

Comparing social patterns in the Near East and Mediterranean

The emergence of the individual

Emergence of complexity:

Urbanism in the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia

Concepts of the emergence of urbanism

Palaces and Gods:

The politics and economics of the Mesopotamian temple, and the palace in the making of the first city life-style

Uruk’s urbanism and the state

Palaces and rulers:

The Minoan palaces and their political, economic and social organization

The politics of feasting

Palaces and Egypt:

Pharaohs and monumentality

Death and burial

Connections and contacts:

The evidence of shipwrecks, written sources and archaeological finds

Ancient texts in context


The Mediterranean at war

The Sea People and the Homeric Age

Threats to World Heritage


Teaching and learning methods


11 x 2hr lectures, 11 x 1hr seminars, 11 x tutorial hours

Knowledge and understanding


  • Have an understanding of the chronological sequence for Mediterranean and Mesopotamian Archaeology;
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the major sites from each period;
  • Have an understanding of the key debates in Mediterranean and Mesopotamian Archaeology;
  • Have an appreciation of the chronological development of the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian landscape.

Intellectual skills


  • Critically assess scholarly materials;
  • Summarize a body of assigned literature;
  • Understand the nature of scholarly referencing;
  • Structure and sustain arguments in both written and oral formats.

Practical skills


  • Ability to make full use of learning resources via the JRULM;
  • Ability to make fully use of learning resources via Blackboard;
  • Essay writing;
  • Note taking;
  • Scholarly referencing.

Transferable skills and personal qualities


  • Writing skills;
  • Peer-review skills;
  • Independent learning skills;
  • Group-work skills;
  • Oral presentation skills.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Cognitive Skills: the critical evaluation of scholarly materials; summarising a body of literature; structuring and sustaining arguments vocally and in written form.
Practical and Professional Skills: this course unit provides an outline understanding of Mediterranean and Mesopotamian Archaeology and the development of the landscape, as well as an introduction to the main sites encountered by field archaeologists. This knowledge is an essential asset to professionals working in field archaeology, museums, local government, planning, and the heritage sector in general.
Generic Competencies: communicating in the seminar context; identifying the key aspects of arguments; use of library and online resources; essay writing and note taking. Personal Capabilities: writing and oral presentation skills, group working, independent learning.

Assessment methods


Assessment task


Weighting within unit

Essay with reflection

2000 words



1.5 hours



Feedback methods


Written feedback

Formative and summative feedback will be delivered on written assignments through the 'Feedback Sheet' released through Blackboard. Feedback on examinations may be viewed by the student, upon application to the office, giving 3 working days advance notice.

Oral feedback

Seminar discussions provide continuous feedback on understanding and contextualisation. In addition, students may make an appointment with the module co-ordinator during their office hours, to gain academic advice throughout the semester. Written feedback should then be discussed face-to-face with the student's Academic Advisor, in one of the bi-semester personal appointments offered to the student.


Recommended reading


Algaze, G. 2008. Ancient Mesopotamia at the Dawn of Civilization: The Evolution of an Urban Landscape. Chicago University Press.

Cline, E. 2010. The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean. Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Mieroop, M. van de. 1999. The Ancient Mesopotamian city. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pollock, S. 1999. Ancient Mesopotamia: The Eden that Never Was. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Potts, D.T. 1997. Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundations. London: Athlone Press.

Rutter, J. Aegean Prehistoric Archaeology;

Shelmerdine, C.W. 2008. The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Tutorials 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 156

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Ina Berg Unit coordinator

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