« History & the Arts/History & archaeology

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From Segovia to Toledo, Córdoba to Sevilla and the extraordinary Alhambra in Granada, the archaeological remains and spectacular architecture that can be seen in Spain today reflect a turbulent history of invasion and conquest. Ideal preparation for travellers, this course explores Spain's history from its origins in the deep past, through the Roman Empire and the arrival of the Visigoths in the 6th century to the golden age following the expulsion of the Moors in the 16th century.


Session 1 - Invaders and Traders

From the beginning of the Iron Age through to 700AD, Spain was colonised by a diverse range of peoples moving from central and Mediterranean Europe.  The Phoenicians came to trade timber for the valuable metals of the Iberian Peninsula, Celtic influence came from the north and the Romans came to the aid of the Greek traders and stayed on for over 500 years.  Following the fall of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths took control of most of the country.  Sites discussed include Numancia, Italica, Tarragona, and Barcelona.

Session 2 - Kings & Caliphs

This session will trace the rise and fall of the Muslims in Spain, from the fall of the Visigoths early in the 8th Century through the main period of the Christian Reconquista in the 13th.  Discussion of sites will not only include the famous cities of Toledo, Cordoba and Sevilla but will also draw on valuable archaeological evidence from lesser known pockets of rural Spain including frontier castles and battle sites.              

Session 3 - Reconquista

From the early skirmishes to the final siege of Granada, this session will examine the Christian actions as they slowly began to take back their lands in 730 until the last Muslim rebellion in 1568.  We will look at the rise of the cult of St James (Santiago) and the rise of the Christian kingdoms in the north including Leon, Castile, Navarra and Asturias.

Sessions 4 - 1492 & beyond

From the Alhambra and other sites of the Kingdom of Granada, we will discuss the final Muslim kingdom of the Nasrids.  Focus will then move to the archaeology of Spain from 1492 and the imprint in both Spain and the Americas left by the Catholic Monarchs and their descendants which led to the Golden Age.