Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE The Development and Theory of Archaeology

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Classics and Archaeology

DESCRIPTION Have you ever wondered how archaeologists decide that a clay statuette represents a mother goddess rather than a child's doll? Do you know why the ancient Greeks believed in the existence of one-eyed monsters? This study-unit allows you to answer such questions and will teach you how to get to grips with the way archaeologists reason. It builds on the basic principles of archaeological interpretation and is divided into two parts. The first part is about the history of archaeology, looking at the ways perceptions of the past have changed over the centuries, and how the discipline has moved from its antiquarian roots to becoming a social science. The second part will provide the essential theoretical approaches that underpin several regional courses and are useful for dissertation writing. Topics to be covered include: the processual versus the postprocessual critique, religion and ritual, trade and exchange, landscape, gender, and public archaeology.

Study-unit Aims:

The study-unit is intended to:
1. allow students to have an outline of the history of ideas that underpin the history of archaeological practice;
2. to help students gain an understanding of the major theoretical debates that have shaped, and continue to shape, the archaeological discipline;
3. allow students to get to grips with the means with which to analyse rich data that are prominent in the data-oriented teaching of this department.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. Recognize that interpretation of archaeological data shifts according to the social and intellectual milieu in which researchers work and live;
2. Develop a critical outlook of key theoretical texts in archaeology and analyze their implications on subsequent research;
3. Carry out a critical analysis of shifting ideas in archaeological thinking by exploring them in the context of a concrete example/theme/topic.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

1. Critically reflect on the intellectual workings/epistemology of the discipline (shifting from data synthesis to how-we-know-what-we-know);
2. Apply acquired knowledge in verbal (class discussion: single or as a group supporting/lobbying for a particular theoretical stance) and written argumentation (2 essays).

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Johnson, M. (2007) Archaeological Theory: An Introduction. 2nd edition Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell [UOM/Faculty of Arts Library CC72.J65 2010]
Schnapp, A. (1996) The Discovery of the Past. London: The British Museum Press
[UOM Short Loan Collection/Faculty of Arts Library CC100.S355]

Additional reading material will be given in class.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Nicholas Vella

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.