Archaeology: The Essentials

Module code: AR1007

  • What is an archaeologist?
  • Where does the discipline of Archaeology come from and how is it organised?
  • What techniques do we use to identify traces of past social life?
  • How do we recover those traces through survey and excavation?
  • How do we date and make sense of the material we recover?

This module will provide you with a wide-ranging overview of the history, structure and organisation of the discipline of Archaeology, the types of material we study and the varied techniques and approaches we employ to shed light upon the past.

Through a series of lectures linked to practical sessions aimed at developing both your archaeological and wider transferrable skills we will explore topics as diverse as the place of the past in the present, tomb-robbing, the rise of antiquarianism, geophysical survey, archaeological excavation and the reconstruction of the environment. Practical skills include learning digitisation software, photographic skills, the principles of classification, and building condition recording to name just a few. By exploring the history, context and methodology of Archaeology as it is currently practiced this module provides an essential background to the discipline. 

Topics covered

  • The birth of a discipline
  • Archaeologists across the ages and around the world
  • Finding sites on the ground and from the air
  • Getting dirty: stratigraphy, sedimentology and soil
  • Understanding the environment and how things preserve
  • Recording the past: from artefact analysis to illustration, data entry to drama
  • The dating game: chronological frameworks and dating techniques
  • Understanding standing buildings
  • Different approaches to presenting the past