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Discovering Archaeology: From Field to Finds Room


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 4
  • Convenor: Tim Reynolds
  • Assessment: a 500-word review of an excavation report (20%), a 1500-word discussion of an exhibition (20%), a 2000-word essay (20%) and a 48-hour online examination (40%), with 60% attendance requirement

Module description

This module provides you with a basic introduction to the practical and analytical skills of archaeology. Lectures and classes are designed to give you a comprehensive picture of the discipline and its practice in a contemporary context, with subjects ranging from preliminary site assessments to the excavation of a site and its interpretation.

Focusing on the archaeology of historical periods, one of our goals is to gain a clearer understanding of the ways in which evidence is preserved in the archaeological record, and how data from fieldwork converges and contrasts with that derived from the written record. This theme will be addressed in subsequent modules on the degree, so this module provides a grounding for the rest of the degree.

Another goal is to introduce you to the different techniques of archaeological investigation, not only excavation but also non-invasive techniques.

Over 20 weeks, we will evaluate current techniques of archaeology through case studies from a range of sites in northern Europe and the Mediterranean region, dating from the archaic to medieval periods. The case studies have been selected to demonstrate applications of different methods and encourage consideration of specialist debates in the field.

The module includes practical exercises in archaeological excavations, and lectures by full-time staff and visiting specialists working in geoarchaeology, maritime archaeology, numismatics and other disciplines.

Indicative module content

    • Introduction: What is archaeology?
    • History of archaeology
    • Survey and prospection
    • Field trip - Avebury
    • Excavation
    • Survey and excavation
    • Maritime archaeology
    • GIS for archaeologists
    • Standing buildings
    • Archaeology and heritage
    • Dating techniques
    • Museum trip - Museum of London
    • Geoarchaeology
    • Palaeoenvironment
    • Animal bone
    • Human bone
    • Lithics
    • Pottery
    • Recording and conservation
    • Writing the past