Option Co-ordinator: Dr. J-L. Schwenninger (School of Archaeology)
Schedule: Lectures & tutorials in MT and HT
Restriction: 6 students per class
This course provides an introduction to archaeological sciences, concentrating on three principle areas. It will be of interest to students wishing to take a scientific direction in their archaeological studies, as well as for those who wish to understand the general foundations of science-based evidence in the discipline and the nature of that evidence. Each section has 6 formal classes in which the essential components are outlined (total 18 lectures), and 2 tutorials during which we further discuss appropriate case studies, problems and essays (total 6 tutorials).
In Materials analysis of artefacts we discuss the background to the application of materials science to archaeological artefacts, with an emphasis on the main methods in current use, such as petrology, microscopy (of various kinds), chemical and isotopic analysis, and chromatography. The lectures follow the classification of the materials, e.g. ceramics, metals, glass and organic materials.
Biomolecular approaches to diet are focused on the retrieval of chemical evidence from skeletal tissues for addressing questions about human diet in the past. We concentrate on the recovery and interpretation of stable isotope information from bones and teeth, complemented by proteomic studies and chemical and isotopic evidence from organic residues in potsherds. We also consider the taphonomic issues associated with the preservation of these chemical signals and the difficulties that can accompany the interpretation of these different lines of evidence.
The Dating methods section deals with a variety of current and developing approaches to establishing absolute chronology. The main emphasis is on radiocarbon dating but we also discuss a suit of other techniques, both established and emerging. Some of these have been developed to address chronology at greater age depths (luminescence and uranium series dating) or to enhance precision (tephrochronology) where required.
On completion students should have gained an understanding of the main principles of these approaches, the nature of accumulating and changing knowledge, and the experimental basis for expanding that enquiry. They should be able to read, and critically assess, research papers contributing to the field. They will develop an understanding that to be effective such approaches must be placed firmly within their archaeological contexts.
- Critical assessment in evaluating specific research issues and scientific techniques.
- Understanding the scientific foundations.
- Evaluation, validation and manipulation of quantitative data.
- Presentation of an argument supported by evidence.
Michaelmas term [8 lectures]
1 Scientific analysis of archaeological materials
Week 1: 13th October 11:00-12:00am
Prof Mark Pollard: Application of materials science to archaeological artefacts and introduction to the main methods in current use.
Week 2: 20st October, 11:00-12:00 am
Prof Anke Hein: Analysis of ceramics.
Week 3: 27th October, 11:00-12:00 am
Prof Shadreck Chirikure: Scientific analysis of metals in archaeology.
Week 4: 3rd November, 11:00-12:00 am
Dr Victoria Sainsbury: Analysis of glass.
Week 5: 10th November, 11:00-12:00 am
Prof Shadreck Chirikure: Metals in society: technology, organisation of production, value etc.
Week 6: 17th November, 11:00-12:00
Dr Luciana Carvalho: Analysis and identification of organic materials.
2 Biomolecular approaches to diet
Week 7: 24th November, 11:00-12:00 am
Dr Elizabeth Stroud: Introduction – overview of biomolecular approaches, chemistry of calcified tissues, principles of stable isotope analysis.
Week 8: 1st December, 11:00-12:00 am
Dr Elizabeth Stroud: Reconstructing diet using carbon isotope values – maize, millet, marine foods.
Hilary term [10 lectures]
Important note: There will be two double lectures in weeks 1 and 4!
2 Biomolecular approaches to diet (continued)
Week 1: 19th January, 11:00-13:00!
Dr Amy Styring: Reconstructing diet using nitrogen isotopes values – vegan or carnivore?
Dr Amy Styring: Proteins in dental calculus.
Week 2: 26th January, 11:00-12:00
Dr Amy Styring: Organic residues on/in pots.
Week 3: 2d February, 11:12:00
Dr Amy Styring: Issues – taphonomy, need for multiple proxies.
3 Dating methods in archaeology
Week 4: 9th February, 11:00-13:00!
Dr Peter Ditchfield: Climatic clocks and frameworks.
Prof Christopher Bronk-Ramsey: Scientific dating methods.
Week 5: 16th February, 11:00-12:00
Dr Lorena Becerra-Valdivia: Introduction to radiocarbon dating in archaeology: relative dating
Week 6: 23rd February, 11:00-12:00
Dr David Chivall: Radiocarbon laboratory methods: chemical pre-treatment and measurement techniques.
Week 7: 2d March, 11:00-12:00
Dr Jean-Luc Schwenninger: Luminescence dating.
Week 8: 9th March, 11:00-12:00
Prof Christopher Bronk-Ramsey: Calibrating and interpreting dates, modelling of results from multiple methods using OxCal.
Lecturer key and contact details
AH Prof Anke Hein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AS Dr Amy Styring (email@example.com)
CR Prof Christopher Bronk-Ramsey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DC Dr David Chivall (David.email@example.com)
ES Dr Elizabeth Stroud (firstname.lastname@example.org)
J-LS Dr Jean-Luc Schwenninger (email@example.com)
LBC Dr Lorena Becerra-Valdivia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
LC Dr Luciana Carvalho (email@example.com)
MP Prof Mark Pollard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
PD Dr Peter Ditchfield (email@example.com)
SC Prof Shadreck Chirikure (firstname.lastname@example.org)
VS Dr Victoria Sainsbury (email@example.com)