Cordoba, Spain: Culture and Technology in Historical Context
This interdisciplinary mini term focuses on cultural diversity (especially religion) in the context of technology across time in Cordoba, Spain. We will combine pre-term seminars with intensive field work at sites in and around Cordoba as well as visits to other cities and sites in southern Spain.
Course of Study
Human settlement in Cordoba dates to 35,000 BCE. Romans conquered the territory in 206 BCE, and founded a colony on the site of Cordoba next to native Iberian settlements in 169 BCE. As part of the Rome’s empire, Cordoba learned to speak Latin (which would later become Spanish). Along with the rest of the Roman empire, Cordoba converted from paganism to Christianity. With the fall of Rome, and the rise of Islam, Cordoba again made the transition from one empire to another and one religion to another, and by AD 1000 was the most important city in the West, incomparable with any other European city of the time, not only for its size and the number of inhabitants (probably over two hundred thousand) or the quality of its infrastructure and services (businesses, markets, libraries, public baths, schools, etc.), but also for the feeling of citizenship of three different cultures and religions —Christian, Jewish, and Muslim — and encouraged the development of literature, music, arts, and all kinds of intellectual activities. We will trace these developments from pagan to Christian and then Muslim hegemony in the context of both culture and technology.
Technology introduced first by the Romans and later by the Arabs, was applied and improved to provide running water, sewers, gardens, fountains. Early agronomists refined methods of irrigation, plant grafting, and crop rotation.
What lessons does a city as rich in history as Cordoba hold for cities and peoples in our own time? Students will investigate and answer these questions through pre-trip seminars at Union, a three-week period of intensive study at the University of Cordoba (in English), and post-trip preparation of a seminar report. The time in Cordoba will concentrate on fieldwork at various historical and archaeological sites, and intellectual and cultural dialogue with professors and students at the University. Side trips to gather additional information will include such historic cities as Seville, Granada, Toledo, Merida, and Segovia.
None, but preference will be given to students with some background and interests in one or more of the following areas: Classics, Spanish, History, Science, Engineering.
Students will reside in dormitories at the University of Cordoba (within easy walking distance of Cordoba’s historic downtown) and in hotels on weekend excursions.
(For specific dates, contact the International Programs Office, Old Chapel, Third Floor.)
- April: Application deadline is the third Friday of spring term.
- May: Non-refundable deposit due at the Cashier's Office in McKean House, and receipt brought to the International Programs Office
- Fall term: Orientation meetings
- Late November: Mini-term begins
- Mid-December: Program ends
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