93591 - Ancient Mediterranean History

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Ravenna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Mediterranean Societies and Cultures: Institutions, Security, Environment (cod. 5696)

Learning outcomes

The course is a historical introduction to the cultures and society of the ancient Mediterranean, from the Indo-European migrations to the Late-antique world. It focuses on the sea as a nexus of contacts, interactions, exchange, movements, conflicts, and construction of identity.

Upon completion of the course the student will be familiar with the methodologies and sources required to understand the cultural memory and historical anthropology of the ancient world. By understanding the persistence of these themes, the student will develop a critical perspective and a comparative approach to the historical processes of the Mediterranean and Near East.

Course contents

The course covers fundamental historical developments in the ancient Mediterranean, between the end of Prehistory and the Late Antiquity. It adopts an approach based on the study of long-term historical structures rather than specific events, consistently with the kind of research initially developed by Fernand Braudel and recently by several influential essays.

The course will analyse three main themes:

  • the Mediterranean as a site of interchange and interaction among ancient peoples and cultures;
  • the role of environment, climate, and resources in modelling historical processes;
  • the role of human beings, especially through trade and conflict, in building and shaping Mediterranean networks in antiquity.

Upon completion of the course, the student will possess a comprehensive vision of the historical and cultural patterns on which the Mediterranean world and its later development are grounded.

Attendance of the course is highly recommended.


    1) Class notes and materials.

    2) D. Abulafia, Il grande mare. Storia del Mediterraneo(Milano, Mondadori, 2013 or later editions): Introduzione, Parte I (Il Primo Mediterraneo), Parte II (Il Secondo Mediterraneo);

    3) Two among the following book chapters:

  • E. Ivetic, Storia dell’Adriatico. Un mare e la sua civiltà (Bologna, Il Mulino, 2019), pp. 11-85;
  • da A. Barbero (a c. di), Storia d'Europa e del Mediterraneo (Roma, Salerno ed., 2006-2016):
    • ovol. I, M. Frangipane, “Il neolitico e la protostoria nel Vicino Oriente antico”, pp. 215-65;
    • P. Piacentini, “L’Egitto nel periodo protodinastico e nell’Antico Regno”, 589-653;
    • ovol. III, A.J. Domínguez, “Mobilità umana, circolazione di risorse e contatti di culture nel Mediterraneo arcaico”, pp. 131-175;
    • ovol. III, M. Giangiulio, “La formazione della civiltà greca”, pp. 337-61;
    • ovol. IV, M. Giangiulio, “Introduzione. Città, popoli, egemonie, regni. L’età classica in prospettiva mediterranea”, pp. 13-35;
    • ovol IV, H.-J. Gehrke, “Incontri di culture: l’Ellenismo”, pp. 651-702;
    • ovol. VI, G. Soricelli, “Economia e territorio da Augusto a Diocleziano”, pp. 661-702.

Non-attending students

In place of item 1) above, students who do not attend classes will be required to study:

  • item 2) from above;
  • three chapters from item 3) above;
  • The additional bibliography:
    • F. Prontera, “Sul Mediterraneo come categoria storico-geografica”, Geographia Antiqua 23-24 (2014-15), pp. 17-23;
    • E. Borgna, “I Micenei”, in F. Radina e G. Recchia (a c. di), Ambra per Agamennone. Indigeni e Micenei tra Adriatico, Ionio ed Egeo(Bari, Adda ed., 2010), pp. 77-94.

Optional reading, recommended to students in search of a reference tool for the historical context:

  • G. Geraci, A. Marcone (a c. di), Storia antica. Dalla Preistoria al primo espandersi dell’Islam (Milano, Mondadori Le Monnier Università, 2021).

NB: non-attending students and students from courses attended in previous years are requested to get in touch with the lecturer at least two weeks in advance before signing up for any exam session, stating their choice of readings from the above.

Students (attending and non-) with specific interests can propose/request any variation to the bibliography above, as long as it is relevant to the course.

Teaching methods

Class lectures with PowerPoints/handouts (30 hours).

Assessment methods

Normally, the student will be required to answer and discuss 3 questions on any theme discussed in class and/or in the bibliography (or bibliography only for non-attending students). 

The assessment consists in an oral examination aimed to assess:

  • the basic knowledge of the course programme;
  • the understanding of issues and topics discussed in class;
  • the familiarity with the historical development of the discipline;
  • the ability to set artefacts/issues in their proper context and to discuss them in a critical perspective;
  • the quality of the oral expression and the competence in logical argumentation.

The final evaluation (in fractions of 30) will follow these guidelines:

  • fail: lacking basic knowledge and ability to provide correct interpretations of the course topics and issues.
  • pass: possess of basic knowledge; mostly correct interpretation, but often lacking precision and independent thought.
  • good: average knowledge; correct interpretation, but somewhat lacking precision and independent thought.
  • excellent: above-average knowledge; correct interpretation displaying precision and independent thought. Excellent oral expression.

Teaching tools

PowerPoints, PDFs of sources, images and maps.

All materials will be made available to the students during the classes, through the course website on the Unibo Virtuale platform (https://virtuale.unibo.it/ ).

Office hours

See the website of Matteo Zaccarini


Quality education Reduced inequalities Partnerships for the goals

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.