90084 - Archaeology of the Mediterranean Near East

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide an overview of ancient Mediterranean Near Eastern civilizations from the first urban aggregations of the southern coastal Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Cyprus in the Bronze Age up to the eve of Hellenism. At the end of the course the student: - has the tools to frame the archaeological emergencies and the typical material culture of the people located in the Mediterranean Levant, i.e. along the Syrian-Palestinian coast and in Cyprus in the diachronic sense (Phoenicians, Arameans, Israelites, Philistines, Cypriots etc.); - is able to contextualise the main historical phenomenologies connected to these cultural spaces and to reconstruct their relations with the other great oriental civilizations, such as the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian; - masters the basic bibliography

Course contents

  • The "Phoenician question".

  • The Bronze Age origins of Phoenician civilization: the Levant in the near-eastern context. Continuity and discontinuity, crisis and restructuring: the political and cultural framework of the Syro-Palestinian region between the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age.

  • Urban planning, civil and religious architecture in Phoenician cities.

  • The Phoenicians and trade: navigation and shipwrecks.

  • The funerary world: cemeteries, tomb types and rituals.

  • Craft and art production: the different production categories in the Levant.

  • Case studies: ivories; bronze sculpture and metal bowls; coroplastic art; glyptics.

  • Craftsmen and manufacturing sites: historical-archaeological data.


The exam preparation will include the class notes and the following books and articles:

  • S. Moscati, Chi furono i Fenici, Torino 1992, pp. 3-36.
  • I. Oggiano, I. Le aree della documentazione. A. L'Oriente, in S. F. Bondì – M. Botto – G. Garbati – I. Oggiano, Fenici e Cartaginesi. Una civiltà mediterranea, Roma 2009, pp. 1-67.
  • M. E. Aubet, Phoenicia during the Iron Age II Period, in M. Steiner – A. E. Killebrew (edd.), The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant, c. 8000-332 BCE, Oxford 2014, pp. 706-716.
  • V. Karageorghis, Cipro, Milano 2002, pp. 143-193.
  • P. Matthiae, La storia dell’arte dell’Oriente antico. I primi imperi e i principati del Ferro, 1600-700 a.C., Milano 1997, pp. 216-223, 236-247.
  • A. C. Fariselli, Imitatori e interpreti: la parabola dell’«eclettismo fenicio», in G. Garzia – C. Matteucci – M. Vandini (edd.), Verità e menzogna nel falso. Truth and lies in fakes and forgeries (= Studi sul patrimonio culturale. Collana del Dipartimento di Beni Culturali, 6), Bologna 2018, pp. 79-97.

Non-attending students will have to complete the bibliography indicated in the previous points with the following research contributions:

  • S.M. Cecchini, Il viaggio di Melqart, in Quaderni di Vicino Oriente 4 (2010), pp. 73-87.
  • S.M. Cecchini, La stele di Breyg, in VI Congresso Internacional de Estudos Fenício Púnicos. Lisboa, Facultade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa, 25 de Setembro a 1 de Outubro de 2005, Lisboa 2013, pp. 274-283.

  • S.M. Cecchini, Le piangenti del sarcofago di Ahiram, in B. Adembri (ed.), Aeimnestos. Miscellanea di studi per Mauro Cristofani, Firenze 2006, pp. 51-56.

  • H. Sader, The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia, Atlanta 2019, pp. 181-312.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons.

Assessment methods

Oral examination. The student will have to be able to outline the main historical issues about the Phoenician civilization and to frame the iconographic material discussed in classes in the cultural and historical context, demonstrating property of language and ability of grasping connections, differences and comparisons between the different kinds of documentation. Specifically, the exam will consist of questions on central topics of the discipline and tests of recognition of archaeological artefacts, plans of settlements or monuments of particular interest, selected from those examined in class or treated in the reference bibliography.

Attending and non-attending students will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • An in-depth knowledge of the course contents, highlighted by a high capacity to frame the archaeological and iconographic documentation in the historical-cultural context of reference, by a reasoned exposure and a good property of language, will be evaluated with the maximum grading (28-30 con Lode);
  • a non-optimal knowledge of the course contents, highlighted by an uncertain and/or mainly mnemonic exposure and combined with inadequate capacity of historical-cultural contextualization, will be assessed in a grading range from good (25-27) to satisfactory (21-24);
  • A superficial knowledge of the course contents, combined with a mainly mnemonic acquisition of course contents and inadequate language skills, will be evaluated with a sufficient grading (18-21);
  • The absence of a minimum knowledge of the course contents, combined with inadequate logical and linguistic skills, will be evaluated with an insufficient grading even in spite of a regular attendance.

Teaching tools

Slides and other audiovisual supports; photocopies and pdf articles; web resources.

Office hours

See the website of Raimondo Secci