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The University of Southampton

HIST3248 Islands and Empires in the Ancient Aegean, Part 2: Island Societies

Module Overview

The ancient Greeks were said to live like ‘frogs around a pond’ (Plato, Phaedo 109b) and the sea was omnipresent in their history and societies. This was true in particular for those who inhabited the islands scattered around the Aegean Sea, between mainland Greece and modern-day Turkey. In Islands and Empires, we explore the history of the Aegean from the Classical age until the Roman Imperial period. The course takes you on a journey through time and space, addressing questions of political power and control as well as social and cultural history. This module (part 2) explores the ancient history of Greek islands in the Aegean from a local and regional perspective. What was it like to live on an Aegean island? Combining written sources with material evidence, you will explore the political structures of island societies, alongside social, cultural, economic, and religious aspects, as well as the relations of these islands with other communities in the Aegean and the wider Mediterranean. You will gain in-depth knowledge of a series of case studies of specific islands (incl. major centres such as Delos and Rhodes) and learn about key themes and approaches for the study of local and regional history in the ancient Greek world. The underlying theme of the module is that of continuity and change. Working with a wide variety of sources throughout the module, you will develop the skills to piece together the histories of specific islands as well as gaining an understanding of both the shared features and unique characteristics of different parts of the Aegean.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • concepts of insularity, regionality, connectivity, and networks.
  • the histories of a selection of Aegean islands including major centres such as Delos and Rhodes.
  • the different types of sources available for studying local and regional histories of island societies in the Ancient Aegean.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • reflect on the theme of continuity and change in the histories of island societies in the ancient Aegean.
  • explore connections between local island histories and the wider political history of the ancient Aegean.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • identify and discuss key themes and questions.
  • engage in independent study and research.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • analyse a wide range of primary sources, appreciate their opportunities and limitations, and incorporate them in discussions of historical questions.
  • identify and critically assess scholarly views and arguments.
  • draw connections between different historical periods and places.


Indicative list of topics that may be covered as part of the module: Insularity: Isolation and Connectivity Sources for Island Histories and Societies Ancient Samos: Politics and Society Samos and its International Relations Delos as Religious Centre of the Cyclades The Political History of Delos Trade and Society at Delos Ancient Rhodes: Politics and Society Rhodes and its International Relations Local Politics and Overseas Networks Cos between Hellenism and Rome Island Sanctuaries and Connectivity Samothrace and its Mystery Cult The Aegean: Unity and Diversity

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - Seminars - Group work - Tutor-led guidance on the sources, on the preparation of assignments, and on the conventions used in the presentation of written work - Student-led seminars, with the module convenor acting as guide and learning facilitator - Individual consultation in person and by email about assessed work on the module. Learning activities include: - Preparatory reading for seminar discussions - Preparation of brief reports on particular questions as directed for classes - Preparing and delivering presentations - Discussion of set topics - Further reading and independent research for the essay - Preparation and completion of module assignments Knowledge and understanding will be developed through a continuous study and analysis of primary sources. You will develop your research skills – how to find relevant material and secondary literature, how to use primary material – in groups and in consultation with the seminar tutor. Attendance of seminars, independent study, and the preparation for assignments will further develop your intellectual skills.

Independent Study252
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Gabrielsen, Vincent (1997). The Naval Aristocracy of Hellenistic Rhodes. 

Shipley, Graham (1987). A History of Samos 800-188 BC. 

Reger, Gary (1994). Regionalism and Change in the Economy of Independent Delos. 

Sherwin-White, Susan M. (1978). Ancient Cos: An Historical Study from the Dorian Settlement to the Imperial Period. 

Constantakopoulou, Christy (2017). Aegean Interactions: Delos and its Networks in the Third Century. 

Rauh, Nicholas (1993). The Sacred Bonds of Commerce: Religion, Economy, and Trade Society at Hellenistic Roman Delos. 

Berthold, Richard M. (1984). Rhodes in the Hellenistic Age. 

Vlachopoulos, Andreas G. (ed.) (2006). Archaeology: Aegean Islands. 

Malkin, Irad et al. (eds.) (2009). Greek and Roman Networks in the Mediterranean. 

Gabrielsen, Vincent et al. (eds.) (1999). Hellenistic Rhodes: Politics, Culture, and Society . 



MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Exam  (3 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Exam  (3 hours) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules


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