MODULE DESCRIPTION 2017-2018


AUTUMN SEMESTER 20 CREDITS



AAP235 SCIENCE IN ARCHAEOLOGY



CO-ORDINATOR: CAROLINE JACKSON
OTHER TUTORS: ANGELOS HADJIKOUMIS, COLIN MERRONY, PIA NYSTROM, ELIZABETH CRAIG-ATKINS


MODULE OUTLINE

This module explores the role of science in archaeological research, ranging from prospection on both landscape and intra-site scales, through the development of dating frameworks, to the study of environmental change, biological evolution, demography, technology, diet, and the movement of people, other animals, plants and materials. ‘Scientific archaeology’ is taken to embrace both (1) the application in the field and laboratory of analytical techniques adapted from the natural sciences and (2) the use of rigorous, explicit and quantitative methods of data sampling, analysis and interpretation. The module comprises a series of lectures paired with practical classes.


BROAD ACADEMIC AIMS AND PRINCIPLES OF THE UNIT

This unit aims to introduce students to:
• the history of debate on the role of ‘science’ in archaeology
• the importance of quantification and the statistical meaning of variability and significance
• the range of applications of scientific techniques to archaeological prospection, dating, and studies of environmental change, biological evolution, demography, technology, diet, and the movement of people, other animals, plants and materials
• the importance of selecting analytical techniques appropriate to the question posed and the data available
• the need for fully informed and hierarchically organised sampling, especially when applying expensive analytical techniques or conducting destructive analysis on scarce specimens
• the central importance of considering archaeological formation processes in data sampling, analysis and interpretation


MEASUREABLE LEARNING OUTCOMES

By the end of this module students should be able to demonstrate:
• have knowledge of the history of debate on the role of ‘science’ in archaeology
• understand the importance of quantification and the statistical meaning of variability and significance
• have knowledge of the range of applications of scientific techniques to archaeological prospection, dating, and studies of environmental change, biological evolution, demography, technology, diet, and the movement of people, other animals, plants and materials
• understand the importance of selecting analytical techniques appropriate to the question posed and the data available
• understand the need for fully informed and hierarchically organised sampling, especially when applying expensive analytical techniques or conducting destructive analysis on scarce specimens
• understand the central importance of considering archaeological formation processes in data sampling, analysis and interpretation


STUDENT ATTENDANCE AND INDEPENDENT STUDY

Type Hours
Lectures 11
Practicals 20
Group discussion / review 2
Independent / Group Study (including preparation for assessments) 169


ASSESSMENT

ASSESSMENT FOR THIS MODULE IS CURRENTLY BEING REVIEWED AND THIS SECTION WILL BE UPDATED SHORTLY


EXAMPLE LECTURE/SEMINAR TITLES

  • SCIENCE IN ARCHAEOLOGY
  • CHOOSING AND UNDERSTANDING YOUR SAMPLE (PRACTICAL)
  • PROSPECTION: GEOPHYSICS, AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND SATELLITE IMAGERY
  • ANALYSIS & INTERPRETATION OF REMOTE SENSING DATA (PRACTICAL)
  • FORMATION PROCESSES
  • BUTCHERS AND DOGS – BONE FRAGMENTATION (PRACTICAL)
  • DIET & FOOD PROCUREMENT
  • PROCESSING CEREALS FOR CONSUMPTION (PRACTICAL)
  • ANCESTRY & EVOLUTION
  • PRIMATE & HOMININ EVOLUTION: LOCOMOTION, DIETARY ADAPTATION & CRANIAL CAPACITY (PRACTICAL)
  • DEMOGRAPHY – HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS
  • AGEING AND SEXING HUMANS (PRACTICAL)
  • DATING: RELATIVE AND ABSOLUTE
  • CREATING A HARRIS MATRIX (PRACTICAL)
  • MANUFACTURE AND USE
  • MANUFACTURE AND USE OF CERAMICS (PRACTICAL)
  • PROVENANCE – ORGANISMS AND THINGS
  • CERAMIC PROVENANCE – PETROGRAPHY (PRACTICAL)
  • ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE – CLIMATE, SUCCESSION AND PEOPLE
  • POLLEN – CONSTRUCTING AND INTERPRETING POLLEN DIAGRAMS (PRACTICAL)
  • BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: SCIENCE IN ARCHAEOLOGY