ARCH06052 2019 IntroductIon to Archaeological Theory

General Details

Full Title
IntroductIon to Archaeological Theory
Transcript Title
IntroductIon to Archaeological
N/A %
Subject Area
ARCH - Archaeology
ESCI - Environmental Science
06 - NFQ Level 6
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Chris Read
Programme Membership
SG_SAPPL_H08 201900 Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Archaeology SG_SAPPL_B07 201900 Bachelor of Science in Applied Archaeology SG_SAPPL_C06 201900 Higher Certificate in Science in Applied Archaeology

All archaeology is interpretive. Whether an archaeologist is aware of it or not, archaeological theory governs all archaeological interpretations. Theory affects every aspect of archaeology from how a site is excavated to how artefact assemblages are organised; from how excavations are interpreted to the identification of regional patterns and aspects of human nature and evolution. The best archaeologists are those who are not only aware of archaeological theory but of both its necessity and the limitations of any one theoretical paradigm.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;

Identify and differentiate the main theoretical paradigms used in archaeology.
Explain the relationship between archaeological theory, method and interpretation.
Review and attempt critiques of archaeological texts.
Express these critiques of archaeological texts through oral and written mediums.

Discuss the dichotomy between ‘objective' scientific analysis and ‘subjective' interpretation.

Identify those questions which lie outside areas of ethical archaeological enquiry.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

A combination of lecturers, directed reading, student presentations and discussions of weekly topics in theroy.

Module Assessment Strategies

The assessments are based primarily on guided reading and the group discussion in seminar format of the key issues explored in the readings. The student will have to give a short presentation of two papers over the course of the module and lead the discussion. The final essay will focus on critical reading and writing, essential skills in professional archaeology.

Repeat Assessments


Module Dependencies


Indicative Syllabus

Topics to be covered will include Culture History, Processual and Post Processual approaches; The Interpretation of Palaeolithic Cave Paintings;The Archaeology of Gender; Social Memory; Ethno-archaeology; The Archaeology of Politics/Nationalism; Landscape Archaeology; Cultural complexity/power relations; Pseudoarchaeology; Cognitive Archaeology; Material Culture Studies


Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Presentations Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 30 % OnGoing 1,2,3,4,5,6
2 Participation in discussion Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 30 % OnGoing 3,4,5,6
3 Essay Essay 2000 words Continuous Assessment UNKNOWN 40 % End of Term 1,2,3,4,5,6

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Problem Based Learning Flat Classroom Problem Based Learning 2.5 Weekly 2.50
Independent Learning UNKNOWN Self Study 4.5 Weekly 4.50
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 2.50 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2006-09-11 A History of Archaeological Thought Cambridge University Press

In its original edition, Bruce Trigger's book was the first ever to examine the history of archaeological thought from medieval times to the present in world-wide perspective. Now, in this new edition, he both updates the original work and introduces new archaeological perspectives and concerns. At once stimulating and even-handed, it places the development of archaeological thought and theory throughout within a broad social and intellectual framework. The successive but interacting trends apparent in archaeological thought are defined and the author seeks to determine the extent to which these trends were a reflection of the personal and collective interests of archaeologists as these relate - in the West at least - to the fluctuating fortunes of the middle classes. While subjective influences have been powerful, Professor Trigger argues that the gradual accumulation of archaeological data has exercised a growing constraint on interpretation. In turn, this has increased the objectivity of archaeological research and enhanced its value for understanding the entire span of human history and the human condition in general.

Required Reading
2012-04-17 Archaeological Theory Today Polity
ISBN 0745653073 ISBN-13 9780745653075

Rare Book

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: A Reader edited by Robert W. Preucel and Ian Hodder

B.G. Trigger's A History of Archaeological Thought

Matthew Johnson's Archaeological Theory: an introduction

Journal Resources


URL Resources

Other Resources


Additional Information