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AY1503: CAVES TO KINGDOMS: AN INTRODUCTION TO PREHISTORIC ARCHAEOLOGY (2017-2018)

Last modified: 16 Nov 2016 18:26


Course Overview

This course provides a romping introduction to the deep human past, from our earliest hominin origins in Africa to the emergence of the first Early Medieval Kingdoms in Northern Europe. Along the way we will discover the key stages in the evolution of our species and what it means to be 'human', from our use of symbols to express thoughts, ritualstic behaviours to our domestication of plants and animals and militarized empires. The archaeological evidence for these fundamental transitions in human societies provides us with powerful insights into some of the world's most fascinating civilizations,

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 1
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
Co-ordinators
  • Dr Joshua Wright

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Either Programme Level 1 or Programme Level 2

What other courses must be taken with this course?

None.

Are there a limited number of places available?

No

Course Description

This coures will introduce you to the key concepts of what it is to be human, what constitutes 'complexity' in past human societies, and how the trajectories that lead to the development of complex societies differed around the world. By the end of the course, you  will be able to: explain the key stages and mechanisms in the evolution of Homo sapiens; outline the key dates, geographical locations and environmental contexts of different hominin species; discuss early prehistoric subsistence strategies and tool technologies, and how these developed over time; explain the earliest evidence for art, religion, abstract reasoning, and human cognition; name and explain the most important transitions in human (pre)history, including global dispersals, the origins of agriculture and writing, and the emergence of urban life, social elites, and state polities, drawing on examples from around the world; outline the most important changes that were taking place in human societies in each of the key stages in Northern European and British prehistory, from the Palaeolithic Period, through the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age, to the emergence of the first Early Medieval Kingdoms.

Course Aims: This course aims to introduce students to the key concepts of what it is to be human, what constitutes 'complexity' in past human societies, and how the trajectories that lead to the development of complex societies differed around the world.

By the end of the course, students will be able to:
  • Explain the key stages and mechanisms in the evolution of Homo sapiens
  • Outline the key dates, geographical locations and environmental contexts of different hominin species
  • Discuss early prehistoric subsistence strategies and tool technologies, and how these developed over time
  • Explain the earliest evidence for ?art?, ?religion?, abstract reasoning, and human cognition
  • Name and explain the most important transitions in human (pre)history, including global dispersals, the origins of agriculture and writing, and the emergence of urban life, social elites, and state polities, drawing on examples from around the world
  • Outline the most important changes that were taking place in human societies in each of the key stages in Northern European and British prehistory, from the Palaeolithic Period, through the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age, to the emergence of the first Early Medieval Kingdoms.
Content: This course provides a romping introduction to the deep human past, from our earliest hominin origins in Africa to the emergence of the first Early Medieval Kingdoms in Northern Europe. Along the way we will discover the key stages in the evolution of our species and what it means to be 'human', how and why we first began to express our thoughts in symbolic ways, how ritual behaviours evolved, how we came to be dispersed around the globe, how and why we began to domesticate plants and animals and change the environments we live in, why we started to write and live in cities, and what these earliest writings and cities looked like, when and where the first states developed, and what characterised social elites and the first militarized empires in key regions around the world. The archaeological evidence for these fundamental transitions in human societies provides us with powerful insights into some of the world's most fascinating civilizations, from Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt to the Mayans, Incas, ancient Greece and Rome, and of course the prehistoric cultures of Northern Europe, including the British Isles.

Further Information & Notes

This course includes a one-day field trip, which will involve some off-road walking over gentle terrain. Students may be asked to make a nominal contribution towards the cost of the field trip. Adjustments will be made for distance learning students and those with mobility issues, who are encouraged to contact the course coordinator at the beginning of the course.

Degree Programmes for which this Course is Prescribed

  • Archeology Joint
  • Archeology Major
  • BSc Archaeology
  • MA Archaeology

Contact Teaching Time

40 hours

This is the total time spent in lectures, tutorials and other class teaching.

Teaching Breakdown


Assessment

1st Attempt: Continuous assessment (50%) and 1 two-hour written examination (50%). Students who achieve 15 or over in the continuous assessment may be exempt from the final examination.

Resit: 1 two-hour written examination (50%) plus original continuous assessment carried over (50%).

Formative Assessment

Online quizzes provided by the textbook publisher and tied to the weekly readings.

Feedback

Students receive instant feedback from the online quizzes and an opportunity to keep trying them. Feedback on the summative assessment will be on a feedback sheet that has a marking rubric table and space for comments, as well as comments written directly on the assessments themselves.

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