ARMNEA-Our closest cousins? The Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology of the Neanderthals

Module Provider: Archaeology
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Level:7
Terms in which taught: Spring 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:
«p»The module aims to provide you with a comprehensive knowledge of the evolution and behaviour of the Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis) as reconstructed from the archaeological and fossil records. You will develop your knowledge of the methods used for analysing and interpreting evidence from the early prehistoric archaeological record, and will examine how different sources of evidence are used in combination to reconstruct Neanderthal technology, subsistence, environments, lifestyles and cognition. You will also acquire an understanding of the history of Neanderthal studies and appreciate how issues involved in Neanderthal palaeoanthropology and archaeology encapsulate general problems and challenges relating to the study of human evolution. The module is taught through a combination of introductory lectures, directed reading-based discussion and presentation seminars, practical artefact-based sessions, and field trips.«/p»

Aims:

The module aims to provide you with an comprehensive knowledge of the evolution and behaviour of the Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis) as reconstructed from the archaeological and fossil records. You will develop your knowledge of the methods used for analysing and interpreting evidence from the early prehistoric archaeological record, and will examine how different sources of evidence are used in combination to reconstruct Neanderthal technology, subsistence, environments, lifestyles and cognition. You will also acquire an understanding of the history of Neanderthal studies and appreciate how issues involved in Neanderthal palaeoanthropology and archaeology encapsulate general problems and challenges relating to the study of human evolution. 


Assessable learning outcomes:

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



- To demonstrate a systematic and comprehensive understanding of the key sites, hominin fossil and genetic evidence, material culture, and other changes and events associated with the Neanderthals and the Middle Palaeolithic period in Europe and the Near East;

- To critically assess current methodological approaches and interpretive frameworks, and explore potential alternatives;

- To independently undertake critical reviews of the subject literature, and to present and debate your conclusions through written coursework and oral presentation;

- To independently organise material and to articulate your arguments clearly through written coursework and oral presentation



 


Additional outcomes:

Independent learning skills are developed through self-directed reading, and communication skills are developed through the discussion seminars and the assessed oral presentation.


Outline content:

The module will be organised thematically, covering both palaeoanthropological and archaeological topics. Palaeoanthropological themes include the origins of the Neanderthals, their distinctive skeletal morphology, current thinking about their so-called ‘cold adaptation’, and their life history models. Archaeological themes include Neanderthal technology (both lithic and organic) and models of its variability, subsistence strategies (including the increasingly important role of isotope studies), behaviour at the site and landscape scale, the nature and interpretation of Neanderthal burials and the increasing evidence for symbolic practices, Neanderthal cognition and language, and finally the timings and reasons for the Neanderthal disappearance. Further module themes include the palaeoenvironments and climates of the Middle and Late Pleistocene; the increasingly significant palaeogenetic record; and the history of Neanderthal study, including changing attitudes to the species, their use in popular culture, and how these reflect wider trends in academia and society.  



Evidence explored in the module will range from Neanderthal genetic and skeletal data, to Middle Palaeolithic stone and organic tools and food remains, to sediments and the biological remains of Middle and Late Pleistocene palaeoenvironments. Evidence will be drawn from across the Neanderthal world (Europe and SW Asia).



Reading List:




  • Mellars, P. 1996. The Neanderthal Legacy: An archaeological perspective from Western Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 12.

  • Papagianni, D. & Morse, M.A. 2013. The Neanderthals Rediscovered. London: Thames & Hudson.

  • Stringer, C. & Gamble, C.S. 1993. In Search of the Neanderthals. London: Thames & Hudson. Chapters 1-2.

  • Trinkaus, E. & Shipman, P. 1994. The Neanderthals: changing the image of mankind. London: Pimlico. Chapter 1.


Global context:

Evidence and examples will be drawn from across the Neanderthal world (Europe and SW Asia).


Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

A thematic programme is delivered through a series of discussion/presentation seminars and introductory lectures, artefact-based practical sessions, and field trips (to the British Museum stores and/or the human evolution galleries of the Natural History Museum). Independent reading is required and discussion seminars will be based around pre-reading. Students will write one assessed critical review and annotated bibliography, one assessed essay and present one assessed seminar paper. Written feedback will be provided, with opportunities for individual oral feedback.



As a 20 credit module, The Neanderthals should involve 200 hours of study time: attending lectures, seminars, practicals and field trips; general background reading; preparing for seminars (including a seminar paper presentation); reading for your critical review and annotated bibliography and your essay; and coursework writing (and re-writing!). You should therefore expect the following sort of workload:



- 40 hours: Contact hours in formal teaching sessions (lectures, seminars, practicals and field trips);

- 50 hours: General background reading and note-taking from key texts for each week’s seminar topic(s) - i.e. 5 hours per week;

- 50 hours: Reading for, preparation of, and writing your essay;

- 35 hours: Reading for, preparation of, and writing your critical review and annotated bibliography;

- 25 hours: Reading for, and preparation of, your seminar paper.


Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 14
Seminars 18
Practicals classes and workshops 4
External visits 2
Guided independent study 162
       
Total hours by term 200.00
       
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Report 30
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:

You will write: one critical review (2,000 words) and accompanying annotated bibliography (30% in total), one essay of 5,000 words (60%) and one seminar presentation (10%). Individual written feedback will be provided on both assignments, with opportunities for individual oral feedback.

The critical review will be submitted in the second half of the Spring Term, and the essay at the start of the Summer Term, on dates set by the Department. Individual feedback on written coursework will be offered in the Spring Term and at the start of the Summer Term. Individual feedback on seminar participation and presentation will be provided by e-mail during the Spring Term.



 


Formative assessment methods:

Formative feedback will be provided through the seminar discussions.


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: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:

A mark of 50% overall


Reassessment arrangements:

Resubmission of coursework by the end of August, but it cannot carry forward more than a pass mark.


Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 31 March 2017

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