The University of Southampton

ARCH6410 Maritime Connections of the Ancient Mediterranean

Module Overview

A basic appreciation of the cultural phases and events that took place in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean region from Prehistory to Late Antiquity will be assumed as a prerequisite of the module. With this in hand a thorough examination of the maritime aspects of a region that from earliest times depended to a greater or lesser extent, upon riverine and sea-going craft as a means of communication and exchange, will be undertaken. The module will essentially be approached chronologically from the earliest evidence for seafaring in prehistory to late antique times. Within this approach particular themes relating to seafaring, maritime trade and communication will be explored and the problems and challenges of interpreting the available evidence examined. Issues concerning patterns of geomorphological and sea-level change and maritime conditions of the region will be addressed, together with the evidence for harbours and shipwrecks, vessels and patterns of trade, navigation and maritime landscapes and how these changed over time in the Mediterranean and beyond. These themes will be examined comprehensively through case studies and examples, and maritime artefacts and images will also be considered.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

This module aims to introduce aspects of seafaring in the Ancient Mediterranean. This module is notable in offering the chance to engage in research into a specific region, during a particular period of time. It will allow you to develop an understanding of the maritime dimension of one of the key areas of archaeological study.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The various themes and problems involved in an evaluation of a maritime landscape of the ancient Mediterranean world
  • The different types of evidence that contribute to an interpretation of the patterns of maritime exchange, the form and development of water transport, and the capabilities of the vessels and the seafarers of the region
  • The maritime environment in which ancient seafarers operated and the many factors that determine the location and abandonment of sites located in the coastal interface.
  • The pattern, influences and players involved in ancient Mediterranean and Indian Ocean seafaring
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Undertake research in an independent capacity or as part of a team/group
  • Assimilate a large and interdisciplinary body of material in order to acquire an appreciation of the broader picture
  • Demonstrate oral skills in the presentation of research, either individually or as part of a group
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply the analysis of various types of evidence to the interpretation of archaeological material
  • Apply theoretical models to specific aspects of maritime trade in the ancient world
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the maritime landscape of the ancient Mediterranean
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the watercraft that facilitated trade and exchange in the ancient Mediterranean
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate that you have acquired a broad understanding of the archaeological context of maritime activity within the context of the ancient Mediterranean, in particular through
  • Show an appreciation of the archaeological potential of boats and ships and associated material culture
  • Show understanding of theories and models relating to patterns of trade, exchange and connectivity
  • Show appreciation of the importance of the sea and the influence it had on shaping ancient cultures
  • Demonstrate ability to identify the types of evidence that can be utilised to form an appreciation of ancient seafaring


Typically, the syllabus will cover: • Introduction: Evidence, Environment, Seafaring & Navigation • Harbour Archaeology • Early Prehistoric Seafaring • Late Prehistoric Seafaring • Bronze Age Seafaring and Trade • Seafaring in the 1st Millennium BC • Seafaring in the Greco-Roman world • Indo-Roman Seafaring • The Roman Imperial Period • Late Antiquity Seafaring: Continuity & Change, Economics & Technology

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching is carried out using a mixture of formal lectures and informal seminars. Lectures aim to synthesise key information and topics in a uniform and consistent way. Seminars offer you the opportunity to explore individual subjects and topics of study on a more personal basis and through group discussion and debate.

Preparation for scheduled sessions60
Supervised time in studio/workshop10
Wider reading or practice100
Completion of assessment task80
Project supervision10
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Sherratt, S. & Sherratt, A. (1993). The growth of the Mediterranean economy in the early first millennium BC. World Archaeology. ,24(3) , pp. 361-78.

Casson, L. (1995). Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World. 

Rainbird, P. (2007). The Archaeology of Islands. 

Horden, P. & Purcell, N. (2000). The Corrupting Sea. 

Sidebotham, SE (2011). Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Trade. 

Broodbank, C. (2013). The Making of the Middle Sea. 

Tomber, R. (2008). Indo-Roman Trade: From pots to pepper. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Analysis  (1000 words) 25%
Individual Presentation  (15 minutes) 25%
Research essay  (4000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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