Postgraduate

Modules

Modules

ARA8186 : Ancient Metals: Technology and Scientific Analysis

Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

• To provide students with a critical understanding of ancient metals (especially copper and iron alloys) including their extractive and manufacturing technologies.
• To provide students with an archaeological and analytical framework to investigate ancient and historic metalwork.
• To provide students with the theoretical and practical skills to carry out metallography, X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis, and metalwork wear analysis safely and professionally.
• To introduce metalwork microstructure and surface corrosion.

Outline Of Syllabus

- An introduction to metal analysis in archaeology
- The chaîne opératoire of copper: mining, smelting, casting, and finishing copper-alloy objects
- Iron, silver and gold: technology and archaeology
- Understanding metals: microstructure and surface degradation
- Metallography: theory and practice including sample preparation
- XRF analysis: H&S, theory, and practice
- Metalwork wear analysis and optical microscopy: theory and practice

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Metalwork microstructure and surface degradation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture42:008:00Metal archaeology and technology
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical63:0018:00Metallography, XRF and wear analysis lab sessions
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1140:00140:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical12:002:00Introduction to metallography and sample preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision63:0018:00Assessment-related supervised lab sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision62:0012:00Student project sessions
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

- Lectures introduce the main topics covered in the syllabus including metal technology and operational sequences of production, metalwork microstructure, and surface degradation
- Lab sessions aim at introducing and practising three techniques of metal analysis, namely metallography, XRF analysis (using a hand-held device), and metalwork wear analysis.
- Supervised lab sessions aim at practising analytical skills and gather data for the assessed student reports
- Guided independent study aims at familiarising with the literature, preparing for the class exam, and working towards the assessed student reports.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination201A15class exam consisting of a 15-question multiple-choice quiz evaluating knowledge and understanding of all main topics
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Report2M85Analytical Report of 3500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

- The class exam (multiple-choice quiz) evaluates knowledge and understanding of all main topics introduced in the module
- The analytical report evaluates students’ ability to carry out the analysis of a small assemblage of archaeological metal objects safely, proficiently, and independently. It also tests their ability to interpret the analytical data in light of the archaeological literature on the subject and draw inferences of general validity. There are two routes to the analytical report assessment, which the students will be asked to choose from: the XRF student project and the wear-analysis student project.
-       XRF student project. The students will carry out the XRF analysis of a small metalwork assemblage comprising objects of various periods, base metals, and alloys, and write a 3500 word report in which the objects are appropriately characterised and interpreted. The report will include an archaeological contextualisation of the objects.

-       Wear analysis student project. The students will carry out the wear analysis of a small assemblage of prehistoric and/or historic copper-alloy objects, and write a 3500 word report in which the objects are appropriately characterised and interpreted. The report will include an archaeological contextualisation of the objects.

Reading Lists

Timetable