• University of Padova
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Enlightening the Dark Ages: Early Medieval Archaeology in Italy

Learn what innovative methods and tools applied to the material culture of the past can tell us about the Early Middle Ages

Enlightening the Dark Ages: Early Medieval Archaeology in Italy

Discovering the cultural heritage of Medieval Europe through archaeology

On this archaeology course, you will explore what we can learn about the past through material culture. It focuses on the history of Medieval Europe, from the end of the Roman Empire in the West. This was a time of huge cultural, social, and environmental change.

The course covers a wide range of topics. You’ll explore the significance of changes in medieval food and health, the spread of Christianity in Europe, and migration patterns and social structures.

You will gain a sensibility for cultural heritage, focused on artefacts of material culture discovered on archaeological sites. These objects can help us understand the complexities of the late Roman Empire, by now under regular attack from Barbarian tribes.

Through material culture, we can understand how people lived, worshipped, and worked, as the new Germanic kingdoms and culture of Medieval Europe emerged.

You will also learn about the technical side of historical archaeology, covering the latest archaeological tools and techniques.

Explore the history of climate change in the early Middle Ages

This historical archaeology course also considers the history of climate change. We are clearly coming closer to the brink of climate catastrophe in the 21st century. What can we learn about how people in the Early Middle Ages reacted to climate change during their times? More broadly, you’ll consider what the history of Europe can tell us about the present.

This medieval archaeology course is delivered by the University of Padova, a research leader in the field. The University of Padova team has dug some of the most culturally significant Italian archaeological sites.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds A famous proverb says, all roads lead to Rome. In this course, we’ll take one of these roads and go back in time. I’m Alexandra Chavarria, Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of Padova, and with me as your guide, we will unravel the end of the Roman Empire, a period traditionally considered as a time of crisis characterized by climatic change, political upheavals, massive migrations, and even pandemics.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds This is vital to understanding, not only the end of the Roman Empire, but also the emergence of a new world which served as the roots for modern Europe. Based on archaeological and written evidence and drawing on cutting-edge scientific methods for understanding the material culture of the past, this course will explore different aspects of this dark period in order to throw a fresh light on their causes and consequences, as well as their implications for understanding our present and immediate future.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds Focusing on archaeological research centered in Northern Italy, you will learn the main events characterizing the period between the fifth and the eighth century. We’ll also unearth how archaeologists and other researchers at the University of Padova reveal innovative historical information, thanks to the development of sophisticated tools and techniques. Journey with me as we start digging for truth.

What topics will you cover?

  • The end of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the Middle Ages
  • The significance of cultural heritage
  • Innovative tools and methods used today in archaeological practice
  • Environmental change and its impact on past societies

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Create a sensibility for cultural heritage, particularly archaeological sites and material culture through a better understanding of their nature and meaning.
  • Compare historical phenomena of the past with those of the present.
  • Explore how innovative scientific methodologies are adding vital information about the past to traditional archaeology
  • Investigate the connections and causations between different historical events

Who is the course for?

This course is suitable for anyone interested in historical archaeology, Medieval Europe, cultural heritage, or the history of climate change.

It would benefit those preparing to study archaeology or who want to explore new archaeological methodologies.

Who will you learn with?

I teach medieval archaeology at the university of Padua . I love communicating knowledge and approaching people to cultural heritage.

Who developed the course?

University of Padova

The University of Padova is one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious seats of learning; it aims to provide its students with both professional training and a solid cultural background.

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