MODULE DESCRIPTION 2017-18

SPRING SEMESTER 15 CREDITS
AAP6149 ADVANCED ARCHAEOBOTANY
CO-ORDINATOR: GLYNIS JONES
OTHER TUTORS: MICHAEL WALLACE, CATHERINE LONGFORD

MODULE OUTLINE

This module comprises laboratory classes involving practical handling of archaeobotanical material as well as student-led seminars reviewing key methodological and interpretive debates in archaeobotany. It delivers specialised skills in the identification, analysis and interpretation of a range of archaeobotanical materials, including charred and waterlogged plant tissues (seeds of wild/weed species, waterlogged remains of leaves and stems, charred remains of roots and tubers etc.). Advanced techniques in archaeobotany (such as biomolecular archaeology, stable isotope analysis, weed ecology and multivariate statistics) are discussed in relation to crop husbandry, and the origins and spread of agriculture. Priorities in report writing are explored, and the module is assessed by a project report, devoted to presentation and interpretation of a large archaeobotanical dataset.


BROAD ACADEMIC AIMS AND PRINCIPLES OF THE UNIT

This unit aims to:

  • provide students with advanced skills in the identification, analysis, interpretation and reporting of a range of archaeobotanical materials;
  • prepare students for carrying out an archaeobotanical dissertation;
  • equip students to critically evaluate the results of new and advanced analytical techniques and interpretive methodologies in archaeobotany.

MEASUREABLE LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this module students should be able to:

  • process and handle a range of archaeobotanical materials from both waterlogged and dry deposits;
  • identify seeds of arable weeds and other wild species from the ‘Old World’;
  • identify charred remains of non-seed plant tissues such as roots, tubers and wood charcoal;
  • make the best use of modern reference collections and identification manuals;
  • analyse archaeobotanical data in terms of crop husbandry, including the application of weed ecological methods and multivariate statistical analyses;
  • apply these skills to written analysis and interpretation of a large archaeobotanical dataset;
  • evaluate the role of new techniques in archaeobotany, such as biomolecular and stable isotope analyses.

EXAMPLES OF LECTURE/SEMINAR TITLES/TUTORIALS

  • Identification of charred seeds from wild/weed plants; the role of identification manuals and reference collections in the identification of plant material.
  • Identification of charred seeds from wild/weed plants. Crop husbandry: the evidence of population and community structure (especially weed ecology)
  • Application of wild/weed identification criteria to archaeobotanical assemblages
  • Identification of charred plant tissues: roots and tubers. Husbandry: the evidence of life history (especially stable isotope analysis).
  • Identification of wood charcoal.
  • Morphometric analysis. Biomolecular archaeology.
  • Multivariate statistical analysis of archaeobotanical assemblages.
  • Weed functional ecology and the identification of crop husbandry. Archaeobotanical report writing.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT SKILLS ACQUIRED

Handling and analysis of a range of material evidence types; multivariate statistical analysis; application of cross-disciplinary approaches; critical thinking.


STUDENT ATTENDANCE AND INDEPENDENT STUDY

Type

Hours

Laboratory Sessions 20
Seminars 4
Independent Study (including preparation for assessments) 126

ASSESSMENT

Method

% of marks

Hours/Length

Essay 100% 3000 words