The course aims to give the students a wide range of case studies and theoretical approaches to cultural relationships from an archaeological point of view, i.e. by analysing the material culture.
The course will focus on some key periods of human history, mainly, but not only, within Europe and the Mediterranean. In particular, the course will point out some specific issues. The first one is the rituals connected to the death, that raised a sharp debate among scholars. People used to represent themselves as part of a never ending process of community identity’s shaping. Newcomers related and integrated themselves with local inhabitants producing a wide range of hybridizations at different levels. A second issue is the craft production. Migrations and invasions, as well as trades, allowed different technical skills to meet and merge one another. A third issue is the exploitation of natural resources. Landscapes can be more conservative than presumed in terms of route and settlement network, water management, and sustainable agriculture and pasture. However, long lasting processes of environmental changes, as well as catastrophes, wars and migrations could produce dramatic changes with past habits.
Archaeology can investigate these topics and produce robust datasets for a debate. We shall analyse some relevant case studies: the great migration at the end of the Roman west (5th-6th c. AD), the Islamic conquest of the Near East and North Africa (7th-8th c. AD), the Christian organisation of vast regions of central and Northern Europe (9th-12th c. AD), and the European colonisation of Latin America and Africa. (16th-18th c. AD).