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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Postgraduate (History, Classics and Archaeology)

Postgraduate Course: The Archaeology of Technology: from prehistory to the present (PGHC11524)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides an overview of archaeological approaches to the topic of technology and technological change. It approaches trajectories of culture change in the human past by considering the relationships between technology and society, drawing on a range of analytical techniques within the disciplines of archaeology and anthropology. The course explores key themes such as technologies' impacts on craft practices, the gendered division of labour, economies and the environment. The course also offers training in material analysis through experimental archaeology, macro-trace analysis and microscopy.
Course description This course explores, at an advanced level, diverse archaeological approaches to the analysis of past technologies and offers a detailed understanding of concepts and theories to understand and analyse the relationships between technological and socio-economic change. Utilising examples from prehistory up to the present, the course focuses on four areas of intersection between technology and society: craft technology and production, the division of labour, consumption and demand, and the environment. The course draws upon perspectives from material science, bioarchaeology, social anthropology and archaeology, providing a comprehensive framework to study technological change.

Students will develop a solid background in concepts and theories in the archaeology and anthropology of technology and attain key skills in the critical analysis of studies of long-termculture change in archaeology. Course materials will be taught through lectures followed by seminars in which students participate in group discussions. PG students will participate in additional seminars in which separate reading materials will be discussed and where they will be offered a chance to present their own topic of interest.

Three on-campus practicals offer students hands-on training in the analysis of stone and earthen building materials, macrotraces of production on archaeological ceramics and elementary microscopy. Students will also gain skills in experimental archaeology through designing and running their own experiment.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking The Archaeology of Technology: From Prehistory to the Present (Online) (PGHC11547) OR The Archaeology of Technology: from prehistory to the present (ARCA10094)
Other requirements 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.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
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 competence in core skills in the study of Archaeology: essay-writing, independent reading, group discussion, oral presentation, small-group autonomous learning
  2. show detailed knowledge of the main theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of technology and technological change
  3. plan and execute an experimental archaeological study
  4. demonstrate the ability to reflect critically on a variety of critical and methodological approaches to studying long-term technological and socio-economic change
  5. plan and execute a substantial written analysis of a case-study, focusing on the dynamics between technological, social and economic change
Reading List
Boyd, B., 2018. Archaeologies of Technology. The Encyclopedia of Archaeological Sciences, 1-4.

Dietler, M., 2010. Consumption. In The Oxford handbook of material culture studies.

Dobres, M-A., 1995. Gender and prehistoric technology: on the social agency of technical strategies. World archaeology 27.1, 25-49.

Ellis, E. C. et al., 2017. Evolving the Anthropocene: linking multi-level selection with long-term social-ecological change. Sustainability Science 2017.

Fogarty, L., Creanza, N., Feldman, M.W. "Cultural evolutionary perspectives on creativity and human innovation." Trends in ecology & evolution 30.12 (2015): 736-754.

Kozatsas, J. (Ed.), 2020. The Dialectic of Practice and the Logical Structure of the Tool: Philosophy, Archaeology and the Anthropology of Technology. Archaeopress.

Kusimba, Chapurukha M. "The social context of iron forging on the Kenya coast." Africa (1996): 386-410.

Lemonnier, P. (Ed.), 2013.Technological choices: transformation in material cultures since the Neolithic. London: Routledge.

Miller, H. M-L., 2009, Archaeological Approaches to Technology. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast Press.

Roux, V., 2003, A dynamic systems framework for studying technological change: application to the emergence of the potter's wheel in the southern Levant. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 10.1: 1-30.

Slack, J.D. and Wise, J.M., 2005, Culture + technology: a primer. New York: Peter Lang.

Wootton, W., Bradley, J., and Russell, B., 2013. The Art of Making in Antiquity: Stoneworking in the Roman World (
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Gather and critically assess relevant information
Develop a reasoned argument, support it with relevant evidence, and communicate it appropriately and persuasively
Fine tune an understanding of the methods and skills involved in academic research
Develop the skills to examine and evaluate micro-traces of ceramic production
Develop the skills to design experimental archaeological studies
Gain experience and enhanced ability to make a critical review of discussion articles
Gain the skills to extract key points from book chapters/articles
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Beatrijs De Groot
Course secretary
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