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Cultural Interaction in the Archaic Greek World (level 5)


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: two essays of 2500 words and a three-hour examination

Module description

This module examines culture change and state formation in early Greece in the wider context of the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. The period witnessed the transformation of the relatively unstable and secluded communities of the Early Iron Age into sizeable city-states featuring the hallmarks of Greek civilisation: political autonomy, athletic competitions, mass-ranked warfare, coinage, columnar marble architecture and monumental sculpture.

Our aim is to understand the role which contacts with the non-Greek world played in the making of Greek society and culture. We concentrate on the relationship between culture transfer through the movement of goods and people, and the concurrent increase in social differentiation visible in the archaeological record.

The module is designed to guide you to areas of scholarly controversy and bring out the contribution which archaeology can make in exploring such topics as: models of social change; Mediterranean mobility and exchange systems; style and identity in Geometric pottery; prestige items and their significance in mortuary display; contacts with the Near East and Egypt; overseas settlement in the western Mediterranean, northern Africa and the Black Sea; the 'orientalising' revolution in metalwork and pottery; 'colonies' and the rise of urbanism; origins and function of early temples, stone architecture and large-scale sculpture; the uses and impact of literacy and money; religion and the meeting of cultures; alternative developments in Crete, Cyprus and Etruria.