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Beginnings: The Archaeology of Prehistory


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: Dr Tim Reynolds
  • Assessment: two essays of 2500 words and a three-hour examination

Module description

In this module we address key issues in the study of prehistory, including the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages. Prehistory is often described as 95% of human history; the early part of the module will explore how this is inaccurate - it is the story of how we actually became human.

Themes explored include:

  • settlement and mobility
  • the character of landscapes
  • deposition of the dead and of artefacts
  • social identities and contact between groups
  • the architecture and significance of monuments and houses
  • prehistoric technology and subsistence.

During the module we will cover a long period of archaeological time during which ways of life changed radically, but with an emphasis on the relations people had with their landscapes, objects and each other. More specifically, we will cover issues such as:

  • mobility and the treatment of the dead in the Mesolithic
  • sedentism and the construction and domestication of the landscape
  • monumentality and the reproduction of social relationships in the Neolithic
  • the impact of metallurgy on exchange and deposition
  • the rise of individual identity
  • the changing character of landscapes in the Bronze Age.

In addition, we introduce you to the critical evaluation of archaeological evidence for life in prehistory and of the approaches and methods archaeologists have used to understand it.