Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded: ARMIZO Introduction to Zooarchaology
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Aleks Pluskowski


Summary module description:
This highly practical module will develop your understanding of the study of animal remains recovered from archaeological contexts. Fundamental identification and recording techniques, including ageing, sexing, osteometric recording and quantification methods will be covered, providing a working knowledge of the value of faunal assemblages recovered from archaeological sites, with a focus on historical periods. You will also develop an understanding of skeletal modifications resulting from pathology, processing and taphonomic factors. The module focuses on mammals, but introduces the identification of bird, fish, reptile and amphibian skeletons. Students on period-based Masters programmes will follow either a Roman or a Medieval ‘stream’ in their reading and assignments.

This module aims to make you familiar with the non-human vertebrate skeleton and to develop your understanding of the study of animal remains recovered from general, as well as Roman and medieval archaeological sites. It also enables you to engage with the broad range of debates in current zooarchaeology, including developing an understanding of interpretative frameworks linked to archaeological, ecological, ethological and anthrozoological theories.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
•critically evaluate the nature and quality of skeletal evidence, and explain how it can be used to infer human responses to other species, as well as environmental reconstruction.
•identify skeletal remains and teeth from a range of mammals, birds and fish, whether intact or fragmentary.
•understand how metrics can be used to estimate to age and sex.
•identify normal from pathological changes to the skeleton.
•identify human modification of animal bone.
•to understand and critically appraise theoretical and practical approaches to the subject and current issues and debates
•to demonstrate independent learning and to articulate an argument orally and in writing, the latter through coursework

Additional outcomes:
Practicals are designed to develop zooarchaeological skills and to reinforce information and practices outlined in the lectures. Students will learn to work both independently, and in groups to gain information from a range of skeletal material.

Outline content:
Students will be introduced to the key methods employed by animal bone specialists (zooarchaeologists) in the examination of faunal remains, from their excavation, to the estimation of age, sex, anthropogenic modification and pathology. You will also be taught to identify, record and analyse different species, to distinguish between mammals, birds and fish, as well as other taxa, and to use the results in understanding taphonomy, environmental reconstruction and trends in human exploitation of animals. Through sustained hands-on practical sessions, you will gain extensive experience of animal bone material from archaeological contexts and reference collections, providing you with a solid foundation for recognising, sampling and recording faunal assemblages in the field.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Weekly illustrated lectures will be supported by seminar and practical sessions, based on preparatory reading and research.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 12
Seminars 2
Practicals classes and workshops 18
Guided independent study 168
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 30
Report 50
Class test administered by School 20

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will be expected to produce a professional zooarchaeological report (50%) presenting the results of their laboratory assessment. Students will also sit a practical test in the laboratory (20%) to assess their ability to identify fragmentary remains and to apply general zooarchaeological techniques, and to write a short essay (1500 words, 30%) on one particular aspect of zooarchaeology.

Formative assessment methods:
In each of the practical sessions, you will be tested on your knowledge of skeletal anatomy relating to specific elements and species and the use of terminology through informal discussions with the other students and module convenor. In this way you will be provided with immediate feedback on your progression, and ways in which you can improve your skills. Throughout this module, students will be encouraged to present their findings to the rest of the class. In-class oral presentations will test your correct use of terminology and provide direct feedback in preparation for your final zooarchaeological report.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information:

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
A mark of 50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework in 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: 21 December 2016

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