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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Archaeology

Undergraduate Course: Ritual and Monumentality in North-West Europe: Mid-6th to Mid-3rd Millennium BC (ARCA10034)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe megalithic and ceremonial sites represent some of the most tangible prehistoric remains in North-West Europe and many interesting and contrasting views occupy much of the megalithic research agenda. In general the course aims to provide students with an in-depth exploration of a major pan-European prehistoric phenomenon addressing major archaeological themes such as landscape, architecture, society, cosmology, death and beliefs.
Course description The evidence for burial and ritual practices of the Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic in Europe has changed dramatically over the past two decades. New discoveries and different theoretical approaches have altered our understanding of these early funerary and ritual traditions in Europe. The course aims to provide students with an exploration of this new evidence and consider the issues of the social significance of burial and ceremonial activities. Topics addressed in the course include: burial traditions of late Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, Neolithic stone settings and long barrows, megalithic chambered tombs, megalithic art, body treatment, enclosures, and the ethnography of megalithic societies in Africa and South-East Asia. Through these topics the course will discuss broader issues of the archaeology of ritual space and practices, and the relationships between landscapes, architecture, beliefs, deathways and social change in Europe from the 6th to the 3rd millennium BC.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Pre-requisites: Archaeology 2A and 2B, or Honours entry to degrees in Classics, or equivalent.
Additional Costs None.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Archaeology courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Adams, R.L. & Kusumawati, A. 2011. The social life of tombs in West Sumba, Indonesia. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 20(1), 17-32.

Bloch, M. 1971, Placing the dead: tombs, ancestral villages, and kinship organisation in Madagascar, Seminar Press, London.

Bradley, 1998. The significance of monuments. London: Routledge.

Lewis-Williams, D. & Pearce, D. 2005, Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods, Thames and Hudson, London.

Midgley, M. 2005. The monumental cemeteries of prehistoric Europe. Stroud: Tempus.

Reilly, S. 2003. Processing the dead in Neolithic Orkney. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 22(2), 133-154.

Richards, C. 1993. Monumental choreography: architecture and spatial representation in late Neolithic Orkney. In: C. Tilley (ed.), Interpretative Archaeology. Berg, Exeter, Explorations in Anthropology Series, 143-178.

Robin, G. 2010. Spatial structures and symbolic systems in Irish and British passage tombs: the organisation of architectural elements, parietal carved signs and funerary deposits. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 20(3), 373-418.

Ruggles, C. 1999. Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Scarre, C. 2011. Landscapes of Neolithic Brittany. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 344 p.

Shee Towhig, E. 1981. The megalithic art of Western Europe. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Thomas, J. 1993. The hermeneutics of megalithic space. In: Tilley, C. (ed.), Interpretative archaeology. Exeter: Berg, 73-97.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Guillaume Robin
Tel: (0131 6)50 9963
Course secretaryMrs Summer Wight
Tel: (0131 6)50 4580
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