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Unit information: Comparative World Archaeology in 2015/16

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Unit name Comparative World Archaeology
Unit code ARCH10003
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Heyd
Open unit status Open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces the main thresholds in prehistory from human origins to the modern world.


This unit is designed to give a broad overview of the development of human society and asks you to use your analytical skills by looking for and trying to explain patterns in cultural change between regions. In doing so, you will be asked to critique the efficacy of current explanatory models.

At a practical level, the methods of assessment and tutorial are designed to develop your writing and analytical skills to familiarise you with literature-based research through the use of the library and web resources.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to:

(1) Recall the basic chronological outline of human prehistory from evolutionary origins to the rise of states and the modern world.

(2) Apply this knowledge to the critical evaluation of models of behavioural change.

(3) Describe at least two periods or archaeological issues (e.g., fate of the Neanderthals, origins of food production, rise of states).

(4) Compare regions or periods.

(5) Develop an informed opinion about patterns of evolutionary and social change.

Teaching Information

Twenty lectures and six small group, 50-minute long tutorials. The tutorials are a compulsory part of the unit.

Assessment Information

One essay of 1500-2000 words (50%) which assesses ILOs 3-4, and one 2-hour written test (50%) which assesses ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

Fagan, B. 2001 (10th ed) or 1998 (9th ed). People of the earth: an introduction to world prehistory. New York: Harper Collins. (GN 740) – (6 copies on Short Loan)

Renfrew, A.C. & Bahn, P. 2000 (3rd ed). Archaeology: theories, methods and practice. London: Thames and Hudson. (4 copies in library on Short Loan)

Wenke, R.J. 1999 (4th ed). Patterns in prehistory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (3 copies in library on Short Loan, and for sale at Blackwells).

Gosden, C. 2003. Prehistory: a short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (£6.99)

Trigger, B. 2003. Early civilizations. Cambridge University Press.

Scarre, C.J. (ed) 1988. Past Worlds: The Times Atlas of Archaeology. Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Scarre, C.J. (ed) 2005. The Human Past: World Prehistory & the Development of Human Societies. London: Thames and Hudson. This is the recommended textbook for the unit.