Unit 0 Overview


What links Theseus and the Minotaur, snake-handling mother goddesses and Zorba the Greek? The answer to this question is “a course on the archaeology of Crete”. This course explores the aims of archaeology, presenting it as a means of uncovering the human past. It examines both what archaeology can add to our knowledge of a particular society and how it does so by looking specifically at Crete. It examines the three main archaeological periods found on Crete (Prehistoric, Graeco-Roman and Mediaeval-Modern), the types of archaeological evidence available and how evidence is collected. It will acquaint students with comparative work (comparing the three epochs), and give students a taste of working with archaeological databases, based on an existing Web site

Sphakia Web site

This unit is dedicated to familiarising you with your online learning environment - the ‘learning space’ that you will occupy with your fellow students over the next few weeks. It allows you to become acquainted with your tutor and fellow students. It is intended to orient you to this new mode of learning as well as to the interface itself, and seeks to ensure that you are properly set up technically prior to commencing your studies. We begin with a systems check to test hardware and software, to ensure that you are able to view all the elements of the course. It would be more polite to put the Welcome section first, but there is little point if it is totally garbled because of hardware or software problems! The Welcome section contains a lot of what we hope will be useful information.

We are aware that some of you are already fully conversant with all the technical aspects that follow, and with much more besides. In that case, Unit 0 offers an opportunity to share that knowledge and to help and advise those of your colleagues who are relative newcomers.

As the course involves discussion with the course tutor and other students, it is important that everyone works through the course materials at a similar pace. We suggest that you devote a week of study time to this unit. You can always return to it to clarify any elements.

This course, ‘Archaeology for Amateurs: The Mysteries of Crete’, has been designed to provide you with a beginner’s guide to archaeology using the example of Crete.

First we introduce you to the general ideas of archaeology in Unit 1, including an overview of the general aims of archaeology and how archaeologists go about reconstructing the human past.

Unit 2 then focuses in on the history of archaeology on Crete, providing an introduction to the history of the discoveries themselves.

In Unit 3 we start to focus in by looking at specific sites, namely: the Minoan palace of Knossos in the Neo-Palatial period; Gortyn in the Roman period, and Venetian Khania, a fine example of Mediaeval-Modern Crete.

In Unit 4, you will learn how to use an actual archaeological database, from an archaeological survey in the district of Sphakia, in south-western (SW) Crete. Archaeologists use databases like these in order to ask and answer the sort of questions that help them draw conclusions about how life was lived in this area over the three epochs.

The study period for this unit will begin on 14th October 2002.


By the end of this unit, you should: