Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Artefact Analysis

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Classics and Archaeology

DESCRIPTION Artefacts are the bread and butter of the archaeologist. This study-unit aims to train students to handle and understand archaeological artefacts, such as pottery, glass vessels, metal objects, jewellery, tools and other implements, figurative objects, textual artefacts, lithics, and coins. To this end, students will be introduced to the technical background of a variety of artefacts, the natural and cultural formation processes that affect their survival in the archaeological record, the various methodologies of research implemented for their analysis and publication, and the significance of specific artefacts with regard to the light they cast on ancient societies. The study-unit is co-taught by a variety of specialists, and it consists of a mixture of lectures, practical sessions, workshops, seminars, and on-site visits.

Study-Unit Aims:

The aims of this study-unit are:
- To train students to handle, appraise, and interpret archaeological artefacts;
- To introduce students to the technical background of archaeological artefacts they are likely to encounter in their practice;
- To expose students to the variety of analytical and interpretative approaches that artefacts are typically subjected to;
- To highlight the significance of the different types of artefacts for the understanding of past societies, human practices, and behaviour;
- To illustrate how archaeological artefacts are processed, analyzed, documented, and prepared for publication, and to train students in some of these methodologies;
- To train students to develop the necessary skills to draw up good archaeological reports on artefacts they will excavate/encounter in their practice.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Recall basic technical details and information regarding different types of artefacts;
- Implement this knowledge for the effective retrieval of artefacts during archaeological excavations;
- Theorize the formation processes that affect the survival of artefacts in the archaeological record and to interpret artefacts in their archaeological context;
- Appraise the various analytical and interpretative approaches brought to the study of artefacts;
- Apply some of these approaches to the objects they will excavate/encounter in their practice;
- Properly document archaeological artefacts and to prepare them for publication;
- Design research agenda pertaining to the excavation, post-excavation analysis, and publication of archaeological artefacts;
- Discuss and assess the archaeological significance of artefacts, to evaluate them in their historical context, and to attempt reconstructions of past human behaviour on the basis of this material.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Analyze and interpret specific types of archaeological artefacts;
- Critically evaluate the archaeological record and theorize about processes that led to the formation of specific archaeological contexts and to the deposition of artefacts therein;
- Critically evaluate archaeological reports and to critique the presentation of artefacts in these scholarly venues;
- Synthesize various strands of data and organize them in a coherent form;
- Formulate and implement complex and long-term research projects.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Adkins, L. and Adkins, R. A. (2009) Archaeological Illustration, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Dorrell, P. G. (1995) Photography in Archaeology and Conservation, 2nd edn., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Henderson, J. (2013) Ancient Glass: An Interdisciplinary Exploration, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Orton, C. and Hughes, M. (2013) Pottery in Archaeology, 2nd edn., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecuture, Practical and Visit

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 50%
Report SEM2 Yes 50%
Important - Due to the COVID19 Pandemic the information regarding the method of assessment indicated above may have been changed. Further details have been provided by your F/I/C/S.

LECTURER/S Maxine Anastasi
John Charles Betts
Anthony Bonanno
Timothy Gambin
Dennis Mizzi

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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 study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.