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Unit information: Life and Death in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe in 2015/16

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Unit name Life and Death in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe
Unit code ARCH20050
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Cramp
Open unit status Open
Pre-requisites

None

Co-requisites

None

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

Description

The Neolithic and Bronze Age were periods of dramatic social and economic change which saw not only the beginnings of agriculture and the invention of metalworking, but also significant political and ideological transformation: from the megalithic tombs of Neolithic western Europe to the warrior aristocracies of the Bronze Age, the archaeology of these periods has long formed a focus of debate. Beginning with a consideration of how we define and trace the ‘Neolithic package’ in Europe, and moving on to explore the emergence of social complexity and the expansion of long-distance trade networks in the Bronze Age, this unit examines the rich variety of evidence which can be used to reconstruct aspects of life and death in prehistory, including diet, mortuary and ceremonial practice, material culture, technological innovation, houses, settlements and landscapes. We will consider the social, cultural and environmental factors underpinning how, when and why new practices manifested themselves as they did in different regions of Europe.

The Unit aims to provide students with:

i) A developed knowledge of the trajectories reconstructed for the European Neolithic and Bronze Age

ii) Comprehension of the nature of the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition in a variety of regions

iii) Detailed familiarity with Neolithic and Bronze Age environment and culture within different regions of Europe and a thorough awareness of how these can be explored through archaeological remains, scientific analyses and ethnographic analogy

iv) The ability to critically evaluate the variety of lines of available evidence upon which explanations and models of the European Neolithic and Bronze Age have been based

v) A critical appreciation of the evidence for the emergence of social complexity during the Bronze Age

vi) A detailed understanding of models of social relations, ideology and exchange for the period

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate:

1) A developed knowledge of the character, sequence and regional detail of the European Neolithic and Bronze Age

2) An ability to analyse and evaluate the archaeological evidence for the nature of the Mesolithic/Neolithic transition in a variety of regions and the interpretations that have been drawn from the evidence

3) Detailed familiarity with Neolithic and Bronze Age environment and culture within different regions of Europe and a thorough awareness of how these can be explored through archaeological remains, scientific analyses and ethnographic analogy

4) Thorough knowledge of the variety of models that have been employed to explain the development of social stratification over the course of the Bronze Age

Students will have acquired:

5) The ability to critically evaluate the variety of lines of available evidence upon which influential explanations and models for the spread of the European Neolithic and of Bronze Age innovations and technologies have been based

6) A detailed understanding of models of social relations, ideology and exchange for both periods.

Teaching details

Nine 2 hour lectures (weeks 1 - 10)

Five hours student presentation sessions (2 hrs in weeks 11, three hours in week 12)

Three 1 hour seminars - running in weeks 3, 7, 10

1 x day-long field trip (Reading/Skills week)

Assessment Details

Seminar presentation, 15 min, individual (25%), ILO 1-3.

Exam, 1 hour (25%), ILO 1,2,4,6.

Essay, 2500 words (50%), ILO 1,3,5,6.

All the assessments are summative.

Reading and References

Harding, A.F. 2000. European Societies in the Bronze Age. Cambridge: CUP.

Harding, A. and Fokkens, H. (eds) 2013. The Oxford Handbook of the European Bronze Age. Oxford: Oxbow. - also available online

Kristiansen, K. & Larsson, T. B. 2005. The Rise of Bronze Age Society: Travels, Transmissions and Transformations. Cambridge: CUP.

Price, T.D. (ed). 2000. Europe's first farmers. Cambridge: CUP.

Fowler, C., Harding, J. & Hofmann, D. (eds.) 2015. The Oxford Handbook of Neolithic Europe. Oxford: Oxbow. - also available online

Whittle, A. 1996. Europe in the Neolithic: the creation of new worlds. Cambridge: CUP

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