ARCH0230 Fall21 S01 Myriad Mediterraneans: Archaeology, Representation and Decolonization

ARCH0230 Fall21 S01 Myriad Mediterraneans: Archaeology, Representation and Decolonization

Myriad Mediterraneans

Archaeology, Representation and Decolonization

Peter van Dommelen


As debates rage about the Classical roots of Western society, the ancient Mediterranean itself is largely overlooked and continues to be seen in stereotypes. Because the ancient Mediterranean was not just white, male and colonizing, this course will explore the extensive archaeological evidence for cultural, gender, ethnic, economic and other forms of diversity during the first millennium BCE. Can Mediterranean archaeology contribute to current debates about decolonization? Conversely, can contemporary debates about indigenous ways of being shine a fresh light on ancient evidence? 

Fig1-BrownHadrian-3.jpg As the Classical roots of the Western world are increasingly challenged and questioned, it is rapidly becoming clear how deep, wide, and entangled these roots have grown over the millennia – the debate about statues of Roman emperors on the Brown campus is a case in point. These debates have tended to concentrate in the present and on our own society, however, and have so far largely overlooked the ancient world – which was not necessarily less diverse than ours.

In this course, we look beyond stereotypical representations of the ancient world dominated by male politicians and philosophers in white togas. Drawing on a wide range of archaeological evidence and the unique insights that it affords, we examine instead the diversity of cultures, ethnicities, races, genders, and class in the ancient Mediterranean – in short, this course will take us on a tour of myriad Mediterraneans, mostly in the first millennium BCE. 

fig2-Phoenicians.jpg We will pay particular attention to ancient colonization because of the disproportional role it has played in modern Western colonialism and by extension in its impact on the modern world; but we will also explore how decolonizing the ancient Mediterranean may contribute to the decolonization of our own society. 


Course Organization:   Introduction  |  Foundations  |  Themes  |  Investigations



Bibliographies: general and for the final projects



download syllabus [pdf]

(but note that these Canvas pages are the ones most up-to-date)


Course Summary:

Date Details Due