Plants and People

Module code: AR3087

  • How can the study of plants help us understand people in the past?
  • What are the primary methods used by archaeobotanists?
  • How do you identify the primary types of macroplant remains from British and European archaeological sites?
  • How do you interpret the results of an archaeobotanical study?
  • How do you produce an archaeobotanical report suitable for a professional archaeological unit?

The study of plants in archaeology plays a significant role in our understanding of past human diets and the evolution of technology. Whether Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer or Bronze Age farmer, plants have played a significant role in the grand narratives of human history. This course will introduce you to the major methods employed by archaeobotanists in discerning the use of plants in the past, with a particular focus on the kinds of plant remains likely to be recovered on British and European sites from the Neolithic to the Roman occupation of Britain. The course contains a significant element of practical study focused on identification of the major crop plants (cereal grains) and you will gain understanding of the ways these early crops were cultivated and processed. You will also be introduced to global debates and research directions in archaeobotany.

Learning

  • 5 hours of lectures
  • 5 hours of seminars
  • 12 hours of supervised time in studio/workshop
  • 128 hours of guided independent study

Assessment

  • Practical test - macro-plant sorting (30%)
  • Report, 3,000 words (70%)