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ARA1026 : Introduction to Archaeological Science

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s):
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Archaeological Science (AS) is the application of scientific methods to the study of the human past. In the last few decades, archaeologists have deployed a wide range of scientific methods to research problems including human evolution, chronology, climate, the environment, health, diet, technology, mobility, the manufacture and exchange of goods, and many, many more. The module introduces some of the main problems that archaeologists address using scientific methods of enquiry, as well as the methods themselves. It also shows how scientific and non-scientific methods of enquiry can work together to enhance our understanding of the past. Case studies ranging from prehistory to historical times, small group lab practicals, and tutorials will help you familiarise with this fast-growing branch of archaeology. Given its introductory nature, the module does not require any scientific background knowledge.
The aims of the module are:
• To introduce the principal scientific methods used today in archaeology (except field methods)
• To enable students to place archaeological science within the wider field of archaeology
• To foster an understanding of science as an essential tool for addressing social problems in archaeology
• To encourage students to develop an area of interest in specific aspects of archaeological science

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics may include:
- Chronology and dating methods
- Environmental archaeology: plants and people
- Geoarchaeology and sedimentology
- Zooarchaeology
- Bioarchaeology
- Biomolecular archaeology
- Mobility and exchange studies
- Ancient technologies and materials science
- Statistical applications to archaeology

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion701:0070:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture141:0014:00PIP lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical21:002:00PIP 1h lab practicals
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical72:0014:00PIP 2h lab practicals
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities112:0022:00Weekly reading, revision quizzes and other supplementary learning material
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00PIP assignment preparation tutorials and surgeries
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study751:0075:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

- Lectures provide an introduction to the archaeological problems and scientific methods discussed through the module.
- 1h and 2h laboratory practicals provide hands-on opportunities to learn and practice the scientific methods introduced in the lectures.
- Workshops (tutorials) provide assignment preparation support and structured Q&A time.
- Structured guided learning including weekly reading, videos, and revision quizzes provide further Canvas-based learning opportunities to students.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M50Dating methods essay (1800 words)
Essay2A50Essay on other topics covered by the module (1800 words)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Computer assessment2MWeekly Canvas revision quizzes
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

- Essay #1 evaluates students' understanding of traditional and scientific dating methods as well as their ability to discuss them critically.
- Essay #2 evaluates students' knowledge and understanding of all other main subjects and scientific methods covered by the module.
- The formative Canvas quizzes provide weekly opportunities to revise the topics introduced and practised in the classroom/lab.

Reading Lists