ARMR27-Material Culture and Identities in the Roman Empire

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

Module Convenor: Dr Hella Eckardt


Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module covers the archaeological interpretation of Roman material culture and aims to familiarise students with the practical and theoretical aspects of artefact analysis. The course will concentrate on the relationship between the consumption of objects and the expression of social and cultural identities.

Suggested preparatory reading: Deetz, J. 1996 In Small Things Forgotten: an Archaeology of Early American Life, New York: Anchor Books.

This module aims to provide students with an understanding of provincial Roman material culture and will focus in particular on the difficulties of combining the practical and theoretical aspects of artefact analysis. The key theoretical issue to be addressed is the relationship between the consumption of objects and the expression of social and cultural identities.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able:

• demonstrate a systematic understanding and critical awareness of current approaches and theoretical models, informed by the latest academic literature on the subject

•to critique and assess past and current theoretical approaches to the subject

•to apply some of these theoretical concepts creatively and with originality to bodies of data to develop their own independent interpretations through self-directed research

•to demonstrate an ability to locate, extract and assemble data on selected artefacts in order to produce ‘catalogue entries’ with minimal guidance

•to organise material and to articulate arguments effectively in writing and in seminar presentations;

- deal with complex issues and partial data (e.g. in the practical workshops) and communicate conclusions clearly

- develop a practical understanding of how established techniques of research are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline (both Roman archaeology and material culture studies)

Additional outcomes:
The module also aims to encourage students to develop both their knowledge of archaeological theory and their practical skills. Practical and visual skills will be developed through workshops (e.g. on constructing typologies, Roman glass working and 'mystery objects') and a handling session at a local museum. Presentational skills will be enhanced through seminar-based discussions and reporting of individual study projects. Use of online materials will develop IT skills. The module will encourage the development of team-working and problem-solving skills and provide opportunities for self-directed study.

Outline content:
The module will examine the relationship between the consumption of objects and the expression of individual and group identities. We will cover topics such as ethnicity and regionality and investigates the ways in which objects are used to represent or stand for masculine and feminine identities. The module will also examine the movement and changing significances of objects both within a single culture and across different cultures using case studies based on food. Issues of reciprocity, trade, exchange and the culturally specific concepts of ‘necessity’ and ‘luxury’ will be explored. While the course will focus on Roman material culture, objects from other archaeological contexts and modern case studies will be considered.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Weekly illustrated lectures, workshops and small group seminars requiring intensive preparatory reading and research. Students will present a seminar paper based on the set readings and submit one piece of written assessment, which develops the detailed analysis of one particular object (catalogue entry) with a wider discussion of its theoretical and archaeological context.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 8
External visits 2
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 90
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:
Not applicable

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write one essay of 4000 (60%), a catalogue entry on a particular object (30%), deliver one oral presentation (10%), and participate regularly in seminar discussion. The essay, catalogue entry and oral presentation count towards their assessment.

Relative percentage of coursework: 100%

Essay 60%; catalogue entry 30%, oral presentation 10%.

Formative assessment methods:

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:

Assessment requirements for a pass:

Reassessment arrangements:
Resubmission of coursework by 1 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: 10 September 2018


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