MODULE DESCRIPTION 2017-2018


SPRING SEMESTER 20 CREDITS



AAP108 WORLD CIVILISATIONS



CO-ORDINATOR: KATIE HEMER
OTHER TUTORS: PAUL HALSTEAD, CAROLINE JACKSON, COLIN MERRONY


MODULE OUTLINE

The popular image of archaeology is captured by the fictional Indiana Jones in his search for the lost secrets of ancient civilisations. This module explores some of the most famous early civilisations, including Mesopotamia, China, and Egypt in the Old World, and the Inca in the New World. Similarities and differences in the development of these civilisations are evaluated, as are the contentious roles of colonisation, diffusion, trade and world systems. The classic civilisations are placed in a wider context by looking at human cultures as diverse as the builders of Great Zimbabwe, the Arabs in North Africa and the Pacific islanders. In conclusion, the module discusses changing understandings of what it may have meant to be ‘civilised’. Since the emergence of anatomically modern man and the inception of farming and sedentism, human societies have undergone radical changes, including the development of urbanism, advanced craft specialisation and long-distance trade, writing and bureaucracy, social stratification and warfare, statehood and empire, colonialism and globalisation. This module explores the nature, causes and consequences of these changes.


BROAD ACADEMIC AIMS AND PRINCIPLES OF THE UNIT

The aim of the module is to show the relationship between the decline of European colonialism and the changing understanding of what it may have meant to be 'civilised'.


MEASUREABLE LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this module students should be able to demonstrate:
• the diversity of human societies;
• the similarities and differences in development between individual civilisations;
• the complex ways in which social and cultural change is influenced by a wider world system;
• the nature of the human condition behind the writing, craftsmanship and monumental architecture of great civilisations;
• the ways in which archaeologists’ conceptions of ‘civilisation’ have changed and how these are related to the colonial and post-colonial history of the West.


PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT SKILLS ACQUIRED

Ability to critically evaluate archaeological and ethnographic data and theoretical interpretations; ability to critically evaluate and synthesise information from published sources; participation in group discussion and presentation; and writing skills.


STUDENT ATTENDANCE AND INDEPENDENT STUDY

Type Hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 4
Independent Study (including preparation for assessments) 176


ASSESSMENT

Method % of marks Length / words
Coursework (essay, poster and a group presentation) 50%
Multiple Choice Examination 50% 1.5 hrs


EXAMPLE LECTURE/SEMINAR TITLES

  • What is civilisation?
  • Foundations in the dust: The development of early states in Mesopotamia
  • Mesopotamia: Writing, social control and agriculture
  • Life in ancient Egypt
  • Death in ancient Egypt
  • Early farming in E Asia: the domestications of rice and millet
  • Ancient China
  • Desert, steppe and tundra: horses, donkeys, camels, reindeer, and silk
  • Urbanization, complexity and collapse: the ancient civilisations of the Indus Valley
  • Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha: trade and contact in the Indian Ocean
  • A united India: the rise of the Mauryan Empire
  • The Arab conquest of North Africa
  • Great Zimbabwe
  • Easter Island and the Pacific
  • Maize, potato, turkey & llama: early farming in the New World
  • The Maya
  • The Aztec
  • The Inca
  • The Plains Indians
  • Civilisation and change