Theory and Interpretation in Archaeology
Run by School of History, Law and Social Sciences
40.000 Credits or 20.000 ECTS Credits
Organiser: Dr Gary Robinson
Overall aims and purpose
The module provides an intensive graduate-level induction to archaeological theory, research issues and reasoning within a seminar framework based on set readings. It aims to review the recent history of archaeological ideas and to examine key themes in current archaeology from a theoretical and comparative perspective.
Topics covered include: Social Identity; Gender, Archaeology; Body-centered research; Material Culture; Landscape; Politics and Nationalism; The Built Environment; Art and Archaeology; Ritual and Religion; Death and Burial.
C/50%: will demonstrate an appropriate range or depth of knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partly-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies.
B/60%: will be show a solid level of achievement in all the criteria in the paragraphs above.
A/70%: will show this solid achievement across the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis.
Demonstrate a critical awareness for the theory and application of interpretative methods within the social sciences
Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of theoretical approaches draw from the social and natural sciences and how these might be used to interpret the past.
Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of different theoretical approaches in Archaeology
Demonstrate the ability to present clear, cogent and evidence-based arguments about ongoing discourses, differing interpretations and theoretical approaches in Archaeology.
Demonstrate a critical awareness of influential discourses in Archaeology and related disciplines.
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Two 6 hour (all day fieldtrips) in order to explore themes and ideas that have been developed in the seminar sessions
Seminars examine selected research topics normally explored within one or more theoretical frameworks. On successful completion of this course a student should: (a) have an understanding of theoretical issues in a range of central research domains of archaeology; (b) be aware of the reasons for debates about how to approach a particular kind of research and be able to form their own theoretical position; (c) be able to use the knowledge to develop an innovative PhD proposal or carry out sound work in their particular field of archaeology.
Students will be expected to spend around 263 hours doing the background reading and 100 hours in producing assessed work
- Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
- Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
- Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
- Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
- Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
- Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
- Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
- Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
- Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
- Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
- Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
- Mentoring - Able to support, help, guide, inspire and/or coach others
- Caring - Showing concern for others; caring for children, people with disabilities and/or the elderly
- Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
- Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
- Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
- Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in
Subject specific skills
- problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
- understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
- being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
- being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
- producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
- planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
- marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
- demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
- demonstrating an innovative approach, creativity, collaboration and risk taking
- presenting effective oral presentations for different kinds of audiences, including academic and/or audiences with little knowledge of history
- preparing effective written communications for different readerships
- making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
- making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
- making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
- collaborating effectively in a team via experience of working in a group
- appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
- critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions
- engaging with relevant aspects of current agendas such as global perspectives, public engagement, employability, enterprise, and creativity
Resource implications for students
Talis Reading listhttp://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/hpa-4003.html
INTRODUCTARY TEXTS Since this course is focused on theoretical issues in archaeology, we will be looking at several views of what constitutes archaeological theory and the role of theory in relation to archaeological practice.
Background reading Clarke, D.L. 1973. Archaeology: the loss of innocence. Antiquity 47:6-18. Dunnell R. 1982. Science, social science and common sense: the agonizing dilemma of modern archaeology. Journal of Anthropological Research 38:1-25. Hegmon, M. 2003. Setting theoretical egos aside: issues and theory in North American archaeology. American Antiquity 68:213-43. Hodder, I. 1999. The Archaeological Process: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell. (Chapter 5: Towards a reflexive method) Hodder, I. 2012. Introduction: contemporary theoretical debate in archaeology. In I. Hodder (ed.) Archaeological Theory Today (2nd edition). Cambridge: Polity. pp.1-13. Johnson, M. 2006. On the nature of theoretical archaeology and archaeological theory. Archaeological Dialogues 13(2):117-32. Johnson, M. 2010. Archaeological Theory: An Introduction. (Second edition). Oxford: Blackwell. (Chapter 1: Common sense is not enough). Johnson, M. 2011. On the nature of empiricism in archaeology. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17:764-87. Kristiansen, K. 2004. Genes versus agents: a discussion of the widening theoretical gap in archaeology. Archaeological Dialogues 11(2):77-99. Mizoguchi, K. 2015. A future of archaeology. Antiquity 89(343),12-22 Shanks, M. and C. Tilley 1987. Social Theory and Archaeology. Cambridge: Polity Press. (Chapter 1.) Sherratt, A. 1993. The relativity of theory. In N. Yoffee and A. Sherratt (eds.), Archaeological theory:who sets the agenda? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.119-30. Thomas, J. 1995. Where are we now? Archaeological theory in the 1990s. In P.J. Ucko (ed.) Archaeological Theory: A World Perspective. London: Routledge. pp.343-62. Wylie, A. 1993. A proliferation of new archaeologies: 'beyond objectivism and relativism'. In N. Yoffee and A. Sherratt (eds.), Archaeological theory: who sets the agenda? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp.20-26.