Prehistory of the Eastern Mediterranean and Adjacent Areas.
General Setting and Local Trajectories

Discipline: Archaeology

This course is beneficial not only for students interested in prehistory, but also to those who seek to better understand processes of change, innovation, development and decline. Most of the topics stimulate a broad approach to archaeological past which focuses on the shift between local and ‘global’ scales of investigation. Our wish to better understand the Eastern Mediterranean puts us on an intellectual journey from Mesopotamia in the Southeast to the Paris-basin in the Northwest. We emphasize also on the micro-scale and on the local which are crucial for the understanding of cultural variability and political borders.
Aim of the course is the overview of the late prehistory of the Eastern Mediterranean (The Levant, Anatolia and the Aegean). The course starts with a concise survey of the of the economy, art and social organization of hunter-gatherers in the Paleolithic. This first theme is crucial for the understanding of the transition to the Neolithic way of life. We avoid Gordon Childe’s term “Neolithic Revolution”, because we believe that the roots of this important change have to be found deep in the Epipaleolithic and what he labelled ‘revolution’ is rather a long process which took place over many centuries and hundreds of generations.
After the review of the Pre-pottery Neolithic and an important case study of Çatalhöyük the focus of the course switches from the Near East to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkan Peninsula. These areas play a crucial role in the spread of the Neolithic way of life (villages, productive economy) to Continental Europe.
Another important innovation we deal with is the early copper metallurgy and its economic and social consequences. The 5th mill BCE necropolises of Varna on the Western Black Sea coast with the earliest considerable concentration of gold finds and other metal prestige objects in human history will be one of our important case studies. We review the evidence on the mysterious abandonment of southeastern European multi-layered tell sites and the disappearance of the rich burial grounds by the end of the 5th mill BC. The study of the 4th mill BCE will follow. It is marked by crucial innovations such as the appearance of arsenical bronze, domesticated horses, plough, wheeled transport and wooly sheep and it prepares the way for the Near Eastern earliest state formation in human history termed by V. G. Childe ‘urban revolution’.
The emphasis of our survey of the Bronze Age is laid on the earliest Aegean civilizations in Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece with their Levantine, northern and western contacts. The course will end with the review of the collapse of the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age and the transition to the Age of Iron.
1. Imagining the Eastern Mediterranean
2. Paleolithic
3. Transition to the Neolithic and Early Farmers in the Near East
4. Çatalhöyük – the Earliest Urban Community?
5. Homo Faber: Neolithic and Copper Age Stone Tools
6. The Appearance of First Metals and the Copper Age in the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeastern Europe
7. Crisis and Collapse. The End of the Copper Age in Southeastern Europe and the ‘Creative’ Fourth Millennium BCE in the Near East, the Mediterranean and Europe. Early Urbanization in the Near East
8. The Early Bronze Age in NW Anatolia and the North Aegean. “Metals make world go around”
9. The Early Bronze Age in Continental Greece, the Cyclades and South Aegean. Mediterranean. Mobility of Objects, Ideas and People
10. Old Palaces on Crete
11. The Aegean in the Middle Bronze Age
12. Mycenaean Civilzation
13. Trade in the 2nd mill BCE Eastern Mediterranean
14. Continental Europe in the 2nd Mill. BC
15. The Collapse of the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age World and the Transition to the Age of Iron


21/11/2022 – 30/11/2022

Format: On-site

Language: English

Student Level: Master

Number of places: No Limits

Number of ECTS: 3

Prerequisites and registration procedures (i.e. language, fee, registration dates)

Good knowledge of English language

Duration, Application Deadline and How to apply

Duration: 10 days on site

Application deadline: 30/09/2022

Ready to Get Involved? Apply below.

E-mail to Ms Slavena Nikolova