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Unit information: Archaeological Methods and Theories in 2015/16

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Unit name Archaeological Methods and Theories
Unit code ARCHM0075
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Hodos
Open unit status Not open




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


This unit aims to acquaint students with current themes in archaeological theory. Emphasis is placed upon understanding the role of theory in contemporary archaeology and in understanding the situations within which various approaches to archaeological theory have developed. The content of the unit will provide students with the skills to effectively read, understand and assess current archaeological literature on the basis of its theoretical stance. The unit provides an overview of the philosophical and material dimensions of various theoretical positions, reviewing the history of this development and providing the necessary analytical frameworks within which to understand contemporary trends in archaeological theory.

Intended learning outcomes

1. To understand the history of archaeology from antiquarians to modern archaeological practice

2. To be able to grasp how the student of physical remains (artefacts, sites, landscapes) can help us understand past and recent societies

3. To evaluate the contribution of archaeological science to archaeology

4. To be able to use modern theoretical insights to understand the past.

Teaching details

18 one-hour lectures (timetabled with ARCH25002) and 8 one-hour seminars (M-level only). There will also be one 3-hour field trip to Arnos Vale cemetery.

Assessment Details

One assessed 20-minute seminar presentation (40%) on a scientific topic related to the student’s pathway; one 3000-word essay (60%) that also pertains to their pathway and contains theoretical and methodological insights into archaeological material.

Reading and References

  • Bentley, R.A., H.D.G. Maschner and C. Chippendale, (eds) 2008. Handbook of Archaeological Theories. Lanham: AltaMira Press
  • Gamble, C. 2001. Archaeology: the basics. London: Routledge
  • Gosden, C. 1999. Anthropology & Archaeology: a changing relationship. London: Routledge
  • Hodder, I. (eds) 2001. Archaeological Theory Today. Cambridge: Polity Press
  • Renfrew, C. & Bahn, P. (eds). 2005. Archaeology: the key concepts. London: Routledge
  • Thomas, J. (ed.) 2000. Interpretive Archaeology, a reader. London: Leicester University Press
  • Trigger, B. 1989. A History of Archaeological Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press