Prehistory (i) (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Mara Gioia Migliavacca
Mara Gioia Migliavacca
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 2A dal Feb 18, 2019 al Mar 30, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The aim of the course is to prepare the student to manage the general topics on the cultural and economic evolution of the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Copper Age societies, in relation with the most relevant ecological changes. The geographic contexts are the African and the South-western Asiatic continents, but above all Europe, due to the dramatic geographic, climatic and bio-cultural changes which mostly occurred during the Middle and Late Pleistocene. Neolithic and Copper Age will be treated with reference to northern Italy.


The course covers the chronological and cultural interval spanning from the oldest appearance of Modern Human Behaviour in Africa, represented from a set of different evidence, up to the complex record of last hunter-gatherers and the first productive neolithic societies.
Out of Africa: following the geographic dispersion from the African continent of the species of Hominins which succedeed up to the Anatomically Modern Humans, the most important steps in the evolution of culture will be taken into consideration.
The chronology of the Palaeolithic, the Mesolithic and the Neolithic will be the reference scale for discussing the impact of innovations in technology that have supported the human population to interact in a more complex way with the ecological context than in earlier times. The dynamics of human peopling will be assessed in relation to modifications in the distribution of lithic, vegetal and alimentary resources.
The main topics are listed below:

Object and methods of Prehistoric Archaeological Research.
Sources of information for Prehistory. Sciences involved in the reconstruction of prehistoric life.
Data interpretation.

Unit 1: Lower Palaeolithic
-- Quaternary Chronology
- General notions of Palaeoanthropology
- Basic notions of Physical Geography, Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoecology
- the emergence of the first knapping stone technologies in Africa and their impact;
- the first southeuropean peopling, contests and models;
- appearance of bifaces, the Acheulean and the North-european peopling.

Unit 2: Middle Palaeolithic
- from the Lower to the Middle Palaeolithic, technological changes and in the Human-resources interaction;
- the age of the Neandertal Man: economy, technologies, settlements;
- the appearance of Homo sapiens in Africa and the first spreads;
- Anatomically Modern Humans and the Others: the state of art. Hypotheses, models and methodological problems;
- The Neandertal demise in Eurasia.

Unit 3: Upper Palaeolithic
- The lower and middle phases of the Upper Palaeolithic: Aurignacian and Gravettian and climatic and ecological interactions;
- The Upper Palaeolithic during the Late-Glacial, demographic increase.

Unit 4: Mesolithic and Neolithic
- The Holocene, the Mesolithic, the colonization of the ecological extremes, the demographic increase.
- The Neolithic, the first colonization of Europe and Italy, settlements and cultures.

Unit 5: Neolithic and the beginning of Copper Age
- cultures and settlements of Northern Italy
- metallurgy and transformation processes
- Settlements, funeral practices and economy of Copper Age

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
A. Pessina, V. Tinè Archeologia del Neolitico. L'Italia tra sesto e quarto millennio. (Edizione 1) Carocci 2008
F. Martini Archeologia del Paleolitico Carocci 2008
Marco Peresani Come Eravamo. Viaggio nell'Italia paleolitica (Edizione 264) Il Mulino 2018 9788815275295
R. C. de Marinis (a cura di) L’età del Rame. La pianura padana e le Alpi al tempo di Ötzi 2013
G. Leonardi e V. Tiné (a cura di) Preistoria e Protostoria del Veneto, XLVIII Riunione Scientifica IIPP Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria 2015
F. Nicolis, E. Mottes (a cura di) Simbolo ed enigma. Il bicchiere campaniforme e l'Italia nella preistoria europea del III millennio a.C. 1998

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral examination