The Birth of the Classical World

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The Iron Age of the Mediterranean and Aegean seems dwarfed by the later glories of Classical Greece, and the rise of Rome. Yet the period 750-500 BC saw an explosion of trade and cultural exchange, from the shores of North Africa to the Far East areas of Turkey, as Greeks and Phoenicians traded, colonized and fought each other for over 200 years. Explore cities and areas as varied as the great Greek cities of South Italy and Sicily; Carthage; Lake Van; South East Turkey and Ephesus, plus the rise of Etruscan civilization fuelled by this world of trade.


  • J Boardman, The Greeks Overseas: Their Early Colonies and Trade, London, Thames & Hudson.
  • J Coldstream, Geometric Greece: 900-700 BC, 2nd ed, London, Routledge, 2003.
  • R Lane-Fox, Travelling Heroes: Greeks & Their Myths in the Epic Age of Homer, London, Penguin, 2008.
  • G Markoe, Phoenicians, London: British Museum Press, 2000.
  • G Barker & T Rasmussen, The Etruscans, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2000.


  • Introduction. Trade in the 8th century BC. The Phoenicians. Carthage – colony or trading post? Links to Urartu, and the neo-Hittites of North Syria.
  • The Greek expansion 750-650 BC. Colonies founded in South Italy and Sicily. Trade with the Levant and Egypt.
  • Greek, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Etruscans. Local Italian peoples. A new literate world.
  • The Great Greek pre-classical sites – Ephesus, Miletos, Paestum, Agrigento, Syracuse – and sanctuaries, such as early Olympia and Delphi.

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Describe aspects of Phoenician and Greek colonisation in the period.
  2. Identify the role that archaeology plays in creating this historical record.
  3. Trace evolution in art styles and building types in the period.
  4. Investigate sources of further study.