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Department of History and Archaeology


Spring Semester, Optional module, 10 ECTS.

Instructor: Yiannis Papadatos


This course is about the archaeology of prehistoric Crete, with special emphasis upon the Minoan palaces of the second millennium BC. The course includes an overview of major types of the Minoan material culture, such as settlements and domestic architecture, the palaces and their surrounding villas, major and minor arts and crafts such as pottery, frescoes, metal artefacts etc. In addition the course is about the ways in which material remains may be informative of the structure and function of Minoan societies, their relations to the rest of the Aegean and the east Mediterranean, as well as of their beliefs and ritual practices. The course focuses particularly upon the palaces, namely court-centered buildings with ceremonial and administrative functions, suggesting the emergence of a complex society with sociopolitical hierarchies. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students should be familiar with

  • the main Minoan sites and types of artefacts,
  • the main debates about social structure in Bronze Age Crete
  • the main debates about the form, function, social significance and evolution of the Minoan palaces

They should also be able to

  • work with different types of archaeological information
  • critically review and compare contrasting interpretations about the emergence of the first complex societies in the Aegean
  • make and express their own opinions about the structure and function of social and political phenomena, such as the state.
  • understand the ways in which the archaeological record facilitates the building of arguments about the past
  • work both alone and in groups


Essay (3,500-5,000 words). A list of indicative topics is provided, but students are strongly encouraged to discuss and personalize the essay topic with the course instructor.

In addition, students may be asked to study select research papers from the existing bibliography on the Aegean Bronze Age and to discuss them in class and/or write short critical reviews (500-1,000 words each).

Select Bibliography

Students are advised to familiarize with the following books:

Andreadaki-Vlazaki, M., G. Rethemiotakis, N. Dimopoulou-Rethemiotaki 2008. From the Land of the Labyinth. Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 BC. New York - Athens: Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA).

Cline, E.H. (ed.) 2010. Oxford Handbook of the Aegean Bronze Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press (section sand chapters related to Crete).

Cullen, T. (ed.) 2001. Aegean Prehistory. A Review. American Journal of Archaeology Supplement 1. Boston: Archaeological Institute of America (chapters by Watrous, pp. 157-223 and Rehak and Younger, pp. 383-473).

Driessen, J., I. Schoep and R. Laffineur (eds.) 2002. Monuments of Minos: Rethinking the Minoan Palaces (Aegaeum 23). Liège and Austin: Université de Liège, University of Texas.

Shelmerdine C. W. (ed.) 2008. The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (section sand chapters related to Crete).