ATS2337 - The Minotaur to the Trojan war: Aegean archaeology - 2018

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Centre for Ancient Cultures

Chief examiner(s)

Dr Jessie Birkett-Rees


Dr Jessie Birkett-Rees

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2018 (On-campus)


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units.


ATS2347, ATS3347


In this unit we examine the art, architecture, burials and beliefs of two important pre-classical Aegean cultures, the Minoans of Crete and the Mycenaeans of mainland Greece. We study the labyrinthine palaces of the Minoans, the frescos and houses of the island culture of ancient Thera, and the rich burials and city states of Mycenaean Greece to discover what this material evidence reveals about social and economic organisation, ritual practice and thriving trade and exchange. Students are introduced to emerging techniques in archaeological research as we consider how these methods have influenced our interpretation of Minoan and Mycenaean culture. We explore the role of later Greek mythologies and epic poems, including Homer's Iliad, in shaping our interpretation of these Aegean societies and examine the reliability of their portrayal. Contemporary evidence from Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean is examined, to understand the wider world of the Minoans and Mycenaeans, alongside the study of the great city of Troy.


On successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. identify the major features of Minoan and Mycenaean societies, their interaction with each other and contemporary societies;
  2. evaluate the methods of archaeological interpretation used to reconstruct the nature of these societies and the challenges posed in this;
  3. critically appraise archaeological reports and interpretations;
  4. discuss current archaeological methodologies and their application in the Aegean context;
  5. assess how interpretation can be affected by the conditioning of the excavator/historian;
  6. evaluate the use of textual sources and archaeological evidence to aid the reconstruction of ancient societies, focussing on the Minoan and Mycenaean cultures.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study