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

Undergraduate Course: Environmental Archaeology (ARCA10079)

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
SummaryEnvironmental Archaeology can be divided into themes, the study of the relationships between people and their environments in the past, and methodological approaches; the study of ecofacts such as plant remains, molluscs and sediments. This course provides an introduction to the aims and major methods of environmental archaeology.
Course description The relationship between people and their environment in the past is a key area of research, both how people interacted with and used environmental resources, and the influence of the environment on cultural and economic development. This course provides an introduction to the aims and major methods of environmental archaeology, with a focus on thematic issues including the origins of domestication and agriculture, the developments and impacts of pyrotechnology, and the links between environmental change and human development. We will examine and critique ideas such as environmental determinism through seminar discussion of key papers. Case studies are drawn from current research and span a wide range of geographic and temporal scales, from early prehistory to the Crusades. The course provides grounding in the principles of Quaternary climate reconstruction and a wide range of environmental reconstruction methods for offsite and on-site analysis, and includes practical training in microscopy.
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.
Information for Visiting Students
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 and understanding of key themes in Environmental Archaeology;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship in Environmental Archaeology;
  3. demonstrate practical skills in the use of different types of microscopy, and understand the different applications of these;
  4. demonstrate the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence, especially the combination of different environmental proxies;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
* Piperno, D. R. 2006. Phytoliths: A Comprehensive Guide for Archaeologists and Paleoecologists, AltaMira Press.
* Asouti, E. (2011). Rethinking human impact on prehistoric vegetation in Southwest Asia: socioeconomics and long-term fuel/timber acquisition strategies at Neolithic Çatalhöyük Proceedings of the 5th International Meeting of Charcoal Analysis: Charcoal as cultural and biological heritage. 123-124.
* Simpson, I.A., Vésteinsson, O., Adderley, W.P. and McGovern, T. (2003). Fuel resource utilisation in landscapes of settlement, Journal of Archaeological Science 30, 1401-1420.
* Canti, M. G. (2003). Aspects of the chemical and microscopic characteristics of plant ashes found in archaeological soils. CATENA 54, 339-361.
* Staller JE and Thompson RJ. 2002. A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding the Initial Introduction of Maize into Coastal Ecuador J. Arch. Sci. 29: 33-50.
* Shillito, L-M. 2011b. Simultaneous thin section and phytolith observations of finely stratified deposits from Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey: implications for paleoeconomy and Early Holocene paleoenvironment J. Quat. Sci. 26 (6) 576 - 588
* Matthews, W., French, C. I. A., Lawrence, T., Cutler, D. F. and Jones, M. K. 1997. Microstratigraphic traces of site formation processes and human activities. World Arch. 29: 281-308.
* Madella, M., Jones, M.K., Goldberg, P., Goren, Y. And Hovers, E. 2002. The Exploitation of Plant Resources by Neanderthals in Amud Cave (Israel): The Evidence from Phytolith Studies J. Arch. Sci. 29: 703 - 719.
* Brown, A. and Pluskowski, A. (2011) Detecting the environmental impact of the Baltic Crusades on a late-medieval (13th-15th century) frontier landscape: palynological analysis from Malbork Castle and hinterland, Northern Poland. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (8). pp. 1957-1966
* Pluskowski, A., Boas, A. and Gerrard, C. (2011) The ecology of crusading: investigating the environmental impact of holy war and colonisation at the frontiers of medieval Europe. Medieval Archaeology, 55. pp. 192-225
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills * Report writing and research skills
* Use of different types of microscopes
* Presentation skills
* Team working skills
KeywordsEnvironm Arch
Course organiserProf Jim Crow
Course secretaryMs Amanda Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)50 2501
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