« History & the Arts/History & archaeology

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By examining the processes involved we will use case studies from a range of periods throughout the world to demonstrate and illustrate how the discipline functions. This short course will provide a basic understanding of the depth and breadth of archaeology. Beginning with a brief history of the discipline, we will cover the study of human history from the migration out of Africa through to the historical period. Using case studies, we will examine a range of time periods and regions from around the world including North Africa, Europe, the New World and the Pacific. Ideal for the budding archaeology enthusiast.

Course outline

  • Week 1 - Archaeology defined. Following a brief discussion on what defines archaeology as a discipline, we will look at the history and development of archaeological investigation. This will include the evolution and a range of theories and techniques used to study the past including dating.
  • Week 2 - The Neolithic Revolution. The domestication of plants and animals heralded the arrival of the first boom period in the development of civilizations. From the Near-East and through Europe, we will discuss the ramifications of agriculture, trade and urbanisation on human populations. More than just a technology, the arrival of metals produced another 'revolution' in cultural development. We will look at the origins of metallurgy and its spread through Europe and Asia and how human populations reacted to its introduction. As a case study, we will examine the culture of the so-called Celts in Europe and discuss the idea of a pan-European culture.
  • Week 3 - Hunters and gatherers across the Wallace Line. During this session, we will examine the evidence for the settlement of Australia, from its earliest period, through climatic change to Colonial impact. We will also discuss the settlement of Melanesia and Polynesia. Easter Island will be used as a case study for this topic.
  • Week 4 - The Americas. The American continents were settled far later than the other major land-masses but developed much the same way as Europe. We will discuss the origins of the first Americans and the rise of civilisation there concluding with the Aztecs, Maya and Inca.
  • Week 5 - Archaeology & Science. New techniques have enabled archaeologists to revisit material that was long forgotten. Using case studies, we will examine a few of the advances made in science that have helped archaeologists reveal deep insights into past human behaviour.
  • Week 6 - History, Heritage and Archaeology. Archaeology is not only concerned with the deep past. This session introduces historical and industrial Archaeology using case studies from Colonial Australia and Industrial UK. The Past as a Commodity - who owns the Past? Whether we realise it or not, most of us are involved in cultural heritage management at some point in our lives.

Whenever we visit a museum or historic site, heritage management has been put into practice - both good and bad. Tourism in some areas relies heavily on the archaeology of its region. This session will discuss the pros and cons of good heritage management and how management plans were developed for some of the world's most famous sites - Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Pyramids of Giza, the Empire State Building - just to name a few.

Who should enrol

People thinking about archaeology as a career or wishing to get more out of their travels. Anyone interested in this fascinating look into our past.