AR3S18-Human Activities in Settlements and Landscapes

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Rowena Banerjea


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module enables students to develop critical and practical skills in the application of micromorphology to study of bioarchaeological and artefactual materials, traces of activities and environment in early agricultural and urban settlements and landscapes. It is a combination of weekly lectures, discussions and practicals.

This module aims to provide students with an in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of the application of micromorphological techniques to interdisciplinary study of early agricultural and urban settlements and landscapes. The case-studies will be drawn from a range of sites in semi-arid regions in the Ancient Near East including the Neolithic settlement of Catalhoyuk, Turkey, and in temperate Britain including Late Iron Age to Roman Silchester. Some Palaeolithic and hunter-gatherer sites are also considered for comparison.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able:
•to identify, record and analyse key characteristcis of stratigraphic sequences in early agricultural and urban settlements and landscapes, including bioarchaeological and micro-artefactual materials and sediments
•to evaluate methodological and theoretical approaches to study of the past environment, site formation processes, architecture and uses of space
•to locate, extract, and assemble data and information from varied sources, with guidance
•to examine key issues and to develop independent interpretations of material through self-directed research
•to organise wide-ranging material and to articulate arguments effectively in writing one assessed essay on a thematic topic and one assessed practical laboratory report on a thin-section of the student's choice and orally in class discussions

Additional outcomes:
This module promotes the development of problem-solving skills in dealing with diverse bodies of archaeological and scientific data. Seminar presentations encourage independent learning, as well as communication skills, personal responsibility, and teamwork in discussion groups on critical reviews and a project topic.

Outline content:
In this module students examine the application of micromorphology to issues and approaches in the study of past environment, site formation processes, architecture and forensic-scale traces of activities. These issues are critically examined and discussed by students in class sessions in the first part of each class. The second part of each class is a practical session on related context and deposit types in thin-section. Analysis of these deposits and subject areas will provide skills for analysing depositional sequences and bioarchaeological and micro-artfactual remains in settlements and landscapes in temperate and semi-arid environments.

The deposits and subjects examined include past environment and sequences from: lakes, rivers and buried soils; architectural materials; plant remains and dung; pottery production; archaeological and experimental sequences of floors and deposits within roofed and unroofed areas, and domestic and ritual contexts, as well as post-depositional alterations. In each practical we examine a range of key examples in group discussions and analysis, before specific attributes of selected examples are described individually in standard laboratory worksheets. During the first part of this module students will write an essay on a related theme. In the second part of this module each student independently analyses one microstratigraphic sequence of their own choice, based on the exercises and skills learnt in the preceding sessions, and will write a short assessed laboratory report.

The practicals progress from step by step introduction to different materials, contexts and stages in thin section description, to independent analysis of aspects of a microstratigraphic sequence of individual choice in a final project. We examine field photographs of these contexts and photomicrographs of each deposit type. We discuss the relevance of each category of observation to a range of archaeological contexts and questions, and examine associated concepts in the seminar that precedes each practical session.

Introductory Reading
Goldberg, P, R.I. Macphail, with contributions by W. Matthews. 2006. Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology. Blackwell Scientific, Oxford.

Global context:
The research questions and sites examined in this module are global in context as they focus on Holocene environmental change and the origins of agriculture and cities in the Near East, as well as examples from the Palaeolithic to Roman and Medieval periods in Britian and Europe.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module is taught by illustrated lectures, microscope practicals, and structured group discussion that requires some preparatory reading. Students will write one assessed essay and one short assessed laboratory report.

This is a 20 credit module, which means that it is intended that you conduct 200 hours of work. This will include work in: laboratory classes, background reading, writing one essay on a thematic topic and one short laboratory report based on microscopy of one stratigraphic unit. With regard to this the kind of workload that you should expect might be as follows:

30 hours contact hours in formal teaching sessions
20 hours engaged in background reading for each formal teaching session
30 hours engaged in reading and writing the laboratory report
50 hours in independent microscope work
70 hours in reading, preparing and writing the essay

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 7
Project Supervision 7
Practicals classes and workshops 16
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 70
Report 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
•One essay of 3,000 words (70%); One laboratory report of 1,500 words (30%)

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
•where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
•where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:

You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework in August/September.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 20 April 2018


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