Ongoing success for archaeology short courses

The Department of Archaeology runs a range of short-courses open to the public and academics alike on specialisms within archaeology.

This September saw the tenth edition of the Understanding Zooarchaeology short course, which was joined by the first running of the collaborative short course Exploring Palaeoenviroments.

Here key organisers research associate Dr Kim Vickers and PhD student Mauro Rizzetto talk about their experiences of this year's courses.

Understanding Zooarchaeology I has been running regularly since 2011. The course aims to provide an understanding of the basic theory and methods which zooarchaeologists use to understand animal bone evidence.

The zooarchaeology team behind the course, made up of wide variety of research students and staff, taught a group of 19 people about the role of animal bones in archaeology.

Participants were introduced to a range of zooarchaeological techniques and theoretical approaches during three days of short lectures, hands-on practical classes, discussions and case studies.

The zooarchaeology course was followed by Exploring Palaeoenvironments, which was run for the first time this year. The short course represented the combined efforts of geoarchaeologists, archaeobotanists and zooarchaeologists from our department and was taught by staff members as well as by a number of current and former PhD students.

Students on an Archaeology Short Course

Intra-European research fellow Silvia Valenzuela Lamas supervises the dissection of owl pellets for the bones of small mammals.

Students on an Archaeology Short Course

PhD student Ged Poland discusses a bird skeleton with short course students.

​The structure and contents of the course aimed at presenting and integrating the potential role of these three sub-disciplines in the reconstruction of environmental conditions faced by past human communities.

As for the zooarchaeology short course, this multidisciplinary approach made use of theoretical lectures, case-studies and practical classes, where the main methodological issues and different types of analyses were presented and discussed.

In particular, the practical sessions were much appreciated, as they allowed participants to handle, analyse and interpret the material evidence that specialists from these disciplines usually deal with.​

​Both courses did not require any previous knowledge of the subject, and attendees came from a varied range of backgrounds, including undergraduate and postgraduate students, professionals, and enthusiasts of archaeological and natural sciences alike. Some of them were visiting Sheffield from across Europe and as far away as South America.​

As course organisers, it is always a great pleasure to see the whole zooarchaeology team working hard together to provide a quality learning experience to our participants; this time, we also had the opportunity to work side by side with our colleagues from the geoarchaeology and archaeobotany labs, which fostered collaboration and exchange of ideas between different working groups within the department.  It was a lot of fun (and hard work!), we were privileged to meet a wide range of enthusiastic people and, in the end, we always get just as much out of running the courses as our learners do attending!

Once again, the short courses proved to be a great experience for everyone involved, and we’re looking forward to welcoming new participants for the next editions.

Follow the link for more information about short courses offered by the department.