Subjects

Subjects

Taught Masters Programme for Archaeological Science (MSt/MSc)

Materials analysis and the study of technological change
Coordinator: Dr Nathaniel Erb-Satullo

Scientific analysis of archaeological materials can uncover networks of exchange, reconstruct technological processes, and identify cultural choices and behaviours that are otherwise inaccessible to the archaeologist. This course provides students with a strong understanding of the potential uses and limitations of these methods, with an emphasis on how they help address questions about the human past. Lectures in the first part of the course will focus on methodological approaches to analysing common archaeological materials, covering the fundamentals of material structure, raw materials, and production processes. The second part of the course is organized in discussion-based seminars that centre on key archaeological themes, such as craft production, innovation, and culture contact. These seminars cover both the theoretical approaches to these issues and the ways that materials science can contribute to these discussions. Weekly practicals include both hands-on experimental archaeology sessions and lab-based exercises aimed at introducing various methods of materials analysis. These sessions help students think about how ancient people transformed and manipulated materials, and how those behaviours are translated to the archaeological record.

Molecular Bioarchaeology
Coordinator: Dr Rick Schulting

Scientific methods are playing an increasingly important role in archaeological research, and this is particularly true of organic materials. Developments in the analysis of stable isotopes, lipid residues, trace elements and ancient DNA are providing new lines of evidence for a host of central questions, including past subsistence and environmental change, migration and genetic origins. This course provides a detailed, critical overview of these topics, both in terms of the techniques themselves, and their archaeological applications. More traditional bioarchaeological analysis of human, faunal, and plant remains also feature. The course includes a strong practical component, with a series of laboratory-based practicals. It makes use of the ongoing research of both members of staff and research students to present the latest approaches.

Principles and practice of scientific dating
Coordinator: Prof Christopher Ramsey

We need to be able to put past events onto a timescale if we are to understand them properly. Scientific dating allows us to explore the relationship between different sites and regions. Furthermore, chronologies built up from dating and other evidence enable us to understand processes at work in the archaeological record. This course looks at the scientific dating methods most commonly applied, including the practical aspects of radiocarbon, luminescence, tephrochronology and dendrochronology. It also provides an introduction to the use of statistical methods for combination of information from direct dating and other archaeological information. There is a strong emphasis on the critical evaluation of dating evidence.


Topics from Archaeology MSt/MPhil

See topic details from that course.


Topics from Classical Archaeology MSt/MPhil

See topic details from that course.