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Unit information: Introduction to Archaeology in 2015/16

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Unit name Introduction to Archaeology
Unit code ARCH10001
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Hodos
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit reviews the variety of methodologies and approaches that comprise the discipline of archaeology today. It introduces students to the history of archaeological research, from the antiquarians of the eighteenth century to contemporary debates on the interpretation of the past. A range of essential archaeological concepts are introduced alongside key field and laboratory methods, including survey techniques, relative and absolute dating, DNA analysis and environmental archaeology. The ways in which archaeologists have employed the evidence from objects, bodies, buildings and landscapes to reconstruct past human societies are considered.


• To introduce key concepts (such as ‘the archaeological record’) that help us make sense of the past.

• To demonstrate how archaeological techniques and ways of understanding the past have changed since the birth of the discipline.

• To provide a basic understanding of the multidisciplinary methods and approaches that characterise current archaeological practice.

• To explore how archaeologists use the material record to make sense of past social relations and human action.

• To establish core skills in academic writing and research, and in verbal presentation

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this unit, a successful student will be able to:

1. Summarise key intellectual approaches to the past and describe how these have changed over the past two hundred years.

2. Define basic archaeological concepts such as ‘relative dating’.

3. Recognise the major analytical and scientific techniques available to the modern archaeologist to study ancient objects, landscapes and people.

4. Appraise the variety of ways in which archaeological data is employed to reconstruct the past.

5. Construct logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence.

6. Access and correctly reference a variety of written and internet sources.

7. Present such information effectively in writing.

8. Present information verbally and engage in critical discussion.

Teaching Information

10 lectures, 10 tutorials. Delivered through 2-hour plenary lecture plus 1-hour small-group tutorial each week

Assessment Information

1) One summative essay of 2000 words (50%). ILO 1-7

2) Final summative exam (50%). 2-hour written exam that will be taken during the January examination period. ILO 1-5, 7.

All ILOs (including ILO 8: verbal presentation) will also be assessed, for formative purposes only, in short tasks set in the small-group tutorials.

Reading and References

Gamble, C. 2001. Archaeology: the basics. London: Routledge

Greene, K. 2002. Archaeology, an Introduction (4th edition). London: Routledge

Renfrew, C. & Bahn, P. 2008. Archaeology: methods, theories and practice (5th edition). London: Thames & Hudson

Trigger, B. 2006. A History of Archaeological Thought (2nd edition). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press