AR2P23-Ice and Fire: The European Palaeolithic

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Level:5
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Summer term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Rob Hosfield

Email: r.hosfield@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
Ice & Fire: The European Palaeolithic will introduce you to the archaeology of this period, through a mixture of lectures, discussion and presentation seminars, artefact and fossil handling, a knapping session, and an optional museum visit. The module is assessed by coursework and a seen examination.

Lectures will introduce the chronology, hominins, behaviours, material culture, and palaeoenvironments of this period, and the seminars will support structured discussions and presentations of the key themes from this period, and the varied interpretations of the available evidence. The optional museum visit will enable you to examine the Palaeolithic artefact collections of either the British Museum or Reading Museum.

Key themes discussed in the module will include the contrasting behaviours and environmental tolerances of ‘modern’ humans (H. sapiens) and ‘archaic’ hominins (e.g. the Neanderthals and H. heidelbergensis) over the last 1 million years or more. The behaviours explored will range from technology (lithic and organic) and subsistence strategies to life histories and cognitive abilities. While the focus of the module is Europe, bordering regions (e.g. the Near East) will be briefly explored where relevant to the European ‘story’.

Preparatory Reading:

Gamble, C. 1999. The Palaeolithic Societies of Europe. Cambridge: CUP. Chapters 1 & 8
Stringer, C. 2006. Homo Britannicus. London: Penguin.

Aims:
This module aims to provide you with a fundamental understanding of the European Palaeolithic: the key hominin species, their behaviours, and the Pleistocene climates and environments to which they were adapted. You will gain a broad appreciation of the methods used for analysing and interpreting the evidence from the European Palaeolithic’s archaeological record, and we will examine how different sources of evidence are used in combination to reconstruct the technologies, subsistence strategies, lifestyles and cognitive abilities of Europe’s key hominin species (H. sapiens, the Neanderthals, H. heidelbergensis and H. antecessor).

This module will introduce you to the archaeology and environments of Europe during the Palaeolithic period (building on initial lectures in the Part 1 Primates to Pyramids module, although that module is not a pre-requisite), through a mixture of lectures, discussion and presentation seminar sessions, artefact and fossil skull handling, a knapping session, and an optional museum visit. The module is assessed by coursework and a seen examination. Lectures will introduce the chronology, hominins, behaviours, material culture, and palaeoenvironments of this period, and the seminars will develop structured discussions and presentations of the key themes from this period and the varied interpretations of the available evidence. The optional museum visit will enable you to examine the Palaeolithic artefact collections of either the British Museum or Reading Museum, building on artefact-handling in the Department (utilising the Department’s Lithic Reference Collection). You will also have the opportunity to further develop your understanding of Palaeolithic technology through a knapping session.

Key themes discussed in the module will include the contrasting behaviours and environmental tolerances of ‘modern’ humans (H. sapiens) and ‘archaic’ hominins (e.g. the Neanderthals and H. heidelbergensis) over the last 1 million years or more. The behaviours explored will range from technology (lithic and organic) and subsistence strategies to life histories and cognitive abilities, with similarities and contrasts between the Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic periods highlighted. While the focus of the module is Europe, bordering regions (e.g. the Near East) will be briefly explored where relevant to the European ‘story’.

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

• To describe one of the main hominin species from the European Palaeolithic fossil record;
• To summarise and analyse one or more aspects of the European Palaeolithic archaeological record (e.g. lithics, faunal assemblages, the fossil record, site structure) as it relates to one or more of the key hominin species;
• To demonstrate critical awareness of current theoretical and methodological approaches to understanding the European Palaeolithic;
• To organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing, both under timed conditions and in assessed coursework.

Additional outcomes:
Your oral and communication skills will also be enhanced through seminar discussions and a non-assessed presentation. You will also develop your IT skills through preparing your poster assignment, and through researching sources for the coursework essay.

Outline content:
The module is not primarily chronological in approach, although we will explore chronological and environmental frameworks for the European Palaeolithic‘s archaeological record, including the evidence for cyclical climates, the ages of key sites and the time-spans of the key hominin fossil species, and the timing of key developments. The major focus however is upon the themes, methods and evidence which are central to the study of hominin society and the Palaeolithic period in Europe.

Introductory sessions will provide an overview of the chronologies, environments, hominins (including their fundamental skeletal characteristics and other palaeoanthropological evidence such as trauma), and key sites associated with the European Palaeolithic’s three main phases (Lower, Middle and Upper). In the remaining sessions the module is taught on a thematic basis, addressing key behavioural aspects (technologies, subsistence strategies, life at the fireside, identity and expression, transitions, and cognitive and social models). Each session examines key sites, evidence, and patterns from the European Palaeolithic, alongside the methods used by archaeologists to address particular questions.

Key Palaeolithic issues (e.g. lithic technology, hominin skeletal morphology, palaeoenvironments, and hominin cognitive abilities) are also explored through the structured discussion seminar sessions, your non-assessed seminar presentation, and artefact and fossil handling. Understanding of Palaeolithic technologies will also be developed through the optional museum trip and/or the knapping session.

Preparatory Reading:

Gamble, C. 1999. The Palaeolithic Societies of Europe. Cambridge: CUP. Chapters 1 & 8
Stringer, C. 2006. Homo Britannicus. London: Penguin.

Global context:

This module explores the archaeology and environments of the European Palaeolithic, using examples and case studies from across Europe and, where relevant, from bordering regions such as the Near East.


Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Each contact session will be of two hours duration, with a mixture of lectures, discussion seminars, a student presentation seminar, and artefact and fossil handling. Key evidence and concepts will be covered in the lecture sessions. The artefact handling and knapping sessions will introduce you to the Department’s lithics teaching collection and to Palaeolithic technologies. The seminars will include both reading and/or evidence-based discussions and student presentations. Issues will be outlined in the module handbook, and you should undertake preparatory reading, note-taking and other forms of preparation, prior to in-class discussion and/or presentation of key themes and issues.

There will also be an optional field-trip, to examine Palaeolithic artefact collections at either the British Museum or Reading Museum (you will be required to make your own way to the museum, and to cover any travel costs incurred, if you choose to attend the optional field-trip).

An optional assignment tutorial will be offered during the module. Individual essay feedback sessions will be offered at the start of the Spring term.

As a 20 credit module, The European Palaeolithic should involve 200 hours of study time: attending lectures, seminars and knapping sessions, general background reading, preparing for seminars, reading for your coursework, coursework writing (and re-writing!), and revising and preparing for your examination. You should therefore expect the following sort of workload:

- 35 hours: Contact hours in formal teaching sessions (lectures, seminars, practicals, tutorials and museum visits)*;
- 80 hours: General background reading and note-taking from key texts for each week’s topic(s) - i.e. 8 hours per week;
- 30 hours: Reading for, preparation of, and writing your essay/producing your poster;
- 13 hours: Reading and note-taking for seminar topics;
- 40 hours: Revision and preparing for your examination;
- 2 hours: Examination

  • NB Contact hours include the Departmental Prehistory fieldtrip in Enhancement Week (Autumn Term).

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 15
Seminars 3 2
Tutorials 1
Practicals classes and workshops 4
Fieldwork 8
External visits 2
Guided independent study 123 42
       
Total hours by term 156.00 44.00
       
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 40
Written assignment including essay 60

Other information on summative assessment:

You will write one essay of c. 2500 words and produce one research poster (c. 500 words). The essay and the poster respectively contribute 40% and 20% to your overall module mark. The poster must be submitted during the Autumn Term, on dates set by the Department. The essay must be submitted at either the end of the Autumn Term or the start of the Spring Term, on dates set by the Department. Individual written feedback will be provided and individual oral feedback on your coursework will be offered during the Autumn and Spring Terms.


Formative assessment methods:
You will also prepare a short seminar presentation (in small groups), based on the skills and abilities of one of the European Palaeolithic’s hominin species. These seminar presentations are not formally marked and do not count towards the overall module mark, but general feedback will be provided to you by email. Oral and/or email feedback will also be provided during and/or after general discussion seminars.

Short on-line knowledge quizzes are provided on Blackboard to enable you to test your understanding of the key sites and chronologies of the European Palaeolithic. These quizzes do not count towards the overall module mark.

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: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf

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.
The Module Convenor 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: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    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.

    Length of examination:
    120 minutes (seen examination)

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-assessment in August.

    (Students who are eligible for re-assessment have the right to re-assessment in all elements [i.e. re-submission of all the coursework], even if they have previously passed one of those elements.)

    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: 31 March 2017

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