ARCH30960 Mediterranean Early Prehistory

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module offers a comprehensive and up-to-date introduction to the Early Prehistory of Mediterranean. The course takes a long-term perspective, ranging from the last Ice Age to the beginning of agriculture (cca. 23 000 - 5000 cal BC), in order to explore the diversity of Prehistoric lifeways. The main aim of the course is to understand how different types of societies around Mediterranean basin experienced major societal and technical transformations in the framework of dynamic environmental changes of the late Pleistocene and early Holocene. Special focus will be given to the lithic technology since the chipped stone industries is still proving to be the most important diagnostic tool for identifying major prehistoric periods, reconstruction of prehistoric way of life and for understanding the organization of prehistoric societies. In this sense the study of the chipped stone assemblages informs us both on the techno-economical needs of the prehistoric peoples and on their social and ideological choices and relations.
Through a theoretical and practical approach, students will be trained to identify the main technological groups and types of tools and recognize the relevance of lithic study for understanding prehistoric societies.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1. Have an advanced level of understanding of key themes in Mediterranean Prehistory
2. To understand and critically discuss major technical shifts in Mediterranean Early Prehistory
3. To identify the range of lithic product categories and tool-types in order to understand why recognition of chipped stone artefacts is relevant to the understanding of prehistoric societies
4. Contribute meaningfully to seminar discussion
5. Write an advanced undergraduate essay

Indicative Module Content:

WEEK 1 Session 1 Lecture: Mediterranean - (palaeo)environemental and (paleo)climatic context
Session 2 Seminar: discussion
WEEK 2 Session 3 Lecture: Lithic technology - Innovations, Traditions, Transmissions and Networks
Session 4 Workshop: Lithic technology
WEEK 3 Session 5 Lecture: Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic societies of Mediterranean Europe
Session 6 Workshop/Seminar: Upper Palaeolithic lithic technology
WEEK 4 Session 7 Lecture: Mesolithic last hunter-gatherers of Mediterranean
Session 8 Workshop: Mesolithic lithic technology
WEEK 5 Session 9 Lecture: Mediterranean stream of Neolithisation and the spread of agriculture to Europe
Session 10 Workshop: Neolithic lithic technology
WEEK 6 Session 11 Lecture: Consolidation and regionalisation of the Neolithic way of life in Mediterranean Europe
Session 12 Seminar: discussion
WEEK 7 Session 13 Lecture: The spread of Neolithic harvesting technologies in the Mediterranean (Niccolo Mazzucco and Fiona Pichon)
Session 14 Workshop: use-wear approach to lithics (Niccolo Mazzucco and Fiona Pichon)
Two-week fieldwork/study period
WEEK 9 Session 15 Lecture: Prehistoric economy - from hunter-gatherer to farmer
Session 16 Seminar: discussion
WEEK 10 Session 17 Lecture: Prehistoric migrations and mobility
Session 18 Seminar: discussion
WEEK 11 Session 19 Lecture: Mediterranean islands
Session 20 Seminar: discussion

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Approaches to teaching and learning may include: lectures, seminars/workshops, discussions. Assigned material to be engaged outside of class may include book chapters and academic articles and documentaries. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: The assignment will be available on Brightspace and will take the form of a quiz on lithics.
The quiz will require students to apply the knowledge that they have learned from attending classes.
Week 7 n/a Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% Yes


Essay: 2500-word final essay (worth 70% of overall grade for the module). Full details are available on Brightspace. Week 12 n/a Graded Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.