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Durham University

Postgraduate Modules 2019/2020

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run in each academic year. Each module description relates to the year indicated in the module availability box. Please be aware that modules may change from year to year, and may be amended to take account of, for example: changing staff expertise, disciplinary developments, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Department: Archaeology

ARCH52460: RESEARCH TOPICS IN MEDIEVAL AND POST MEDIEVAL ARCHAEOLOGY (DOUBLE MODULE)

Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2019/20

Prerequisites

  • None

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • To develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of a specialised aspect of medival and/or post-medieval archaeology chosen from a list of topics representing the main areas of research in the Department and the Strands within the MA in Archaeology.

Content

  • Two of the following topics as available:
  • The archaeology of burial practice in Britain, C12th-c19th: Burial Practice from the Normans; large population cemeteries of the middle ages; special categories of the dead: saints, clergy, and the secular elite; jewish communities; hospitals, and what people died of; on the eve of the Reformation; Reformation changes and contrasts; burial in the 17th and 18th centuries; the context of burial in the 17th to 19th centuries; the unstoppable rise of the undertaker.
  • The archaeology of towns in Britain, C12th-C18th: The urban form and function from the 12th century; new towns and early ports; urban hierarchies and civic institutions; urban housing; urban warehousing and specialist functions; death and religion in towns; ports of trade; the 16th and 17th centuries; the urban renaissance thesis; Georgianisation and speculative enterprise.
  • Burial and Commemoration, AD 400 to 1100: Late Roman to Early Anglo-Saxon Transitions; the Creation of Identities, 5th to 6th Centuries; expressions of an elite; the process of Christianisation; Vikings, Christians and others; the cult of saints; the landscape of burial, 10th to 11th Centuries.
  • Warlords, Holy Men and Tyrants: North East England c. AD 400-1100 The development of Northern England and Scotland from the end of the Roman period to the turn of the first millennium AD; interactions between the British, the Anglo-Saxons, the Irish and the Picts; rise of major kingdoms; the spread of Christianity; the impact of Viking raids; evidence for settlement and economy, the emergence of elites and kingdoms, the patterns of conflict and warfare, the process of religious change and of communication and exchange within and beyond the Northern world.
  • Environmental archaeology of the North Atlantic islands. The nature of human/environment interaction across a variety of island systems in the North Atlantic during the later prehistoric and Norse periods; colonisation and human impact on island environments; adaptation to marginal environments; economic continuity and change; multi-disciplinary case studies integrating a variety of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental techniques; reconstruction of Iron Age and Norse environment and economy of Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland Isles; human/environment interaction during the Norse expansion on the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland.
  • Townscapes in North Africa and the Near East: Urban form and its transformation from Late Antiquity to the early Arab period. The major focus will be on the Mediterranean provinces, especially North Africa and the Near East from the Roman Imperial period to the 8th / 9th centuries AD. Comparison between eastern and western Mediterranean. Transformation of cities through major historical events; the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the Vandal occupation of North Africa, the Byzantine Empire and the arrival of the Arabs. Overview of the classical city and the range of public and private buildings and their development over time. The transformation of space from Late Antiquity, both the urban layout of towns and the reuse of individual buildings. The changing nature of society during a period of great historical upheaval. Christianization - the changes to urban topography brought about by the foundation of churches and the rise of the power of the clergy.
  • Archaeology and Economy: Theory of economic archaeology (Polanyi, market and embedded economies, capitalism, Wallerstein, Kondratieff, Frank); Global approaches (comparative historiography comparative archaeology); Background developments (seafaring techniques and monsoon winds, Bronze-age trade, Periplus, Rome, India, and China, silk and spice trade); Tracing patterns of global development using survey data (the Mediterranean, the Near East, Iran and South Asia); Tracing patterns of global development using historical evidence; Tracing patterns of global development using numismatic evidence; Tracing patterns of global development using artifact evidence; Historical questions: The Islamic conquests and the Pirenne debate; Early Medieval urban decline in South Asia (R.S. Sharm's model); Feudalism and state formation in Early Medieval India; The emergence of a medieval world economy - China and the Indian Ocean (the Fijjuin pattern); European domination and Wallerstein's long - 16th century; Example Case studies: Buirma (A. Reid), Java (J. Wisseman-Christie), Iran and Hormuz (Williamson), Ras al-Khaimah I (settlement, trade urbanism), Ras al-Khaimah II (marginal zones and the Barker model), Shanga (Horton).
  • Cultural Landscapes of Eurasia: Provides students with an in depth understanding of archaeological landscapes, focusing on the development of complex societies and territorial empires. We discuss advances in the tools available for understanding landscapes, including remote sensing and satellite imagery, GIS and drone technologies, as well as covering key research areas such as urbanism, water systems and human-environment interactions. Case studies are drawn from a wide area, including the UK, Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia and the Caucasus.
  • Preservation of Archaeological Remains In Situ: explores how we preserve archaeological remains (sites and artefacts) in situ and the ethical issues raised in dealing with sites as diverse as aboriginal rock shelters and wrecks in the English Channel. Covers: the extent and nature of the degradation processes seen at these sites; the means of recording and describing these decay processes; the legal and economic methods used to protect these sites and their artefacts; the physical and chemical methods used to preserve these sites and their artefacts; the methods used for restoring these sites and worrying about how far you should go with restoration. We will also try and gain a clear understanding of the chemistry, biology and physical nature of the burial environment and decay processes of a range of materials. There will be an emphasis on the physical practicalities of these issues, we will, however, not be exploring any aspect of conserving artefacts.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Using two of the following topics as avaliable, students will have:
  • The archaeology of burial practice in Britain, C12th-c19th: Developed a critical knowledge of the chronology, form and context of death, burial and ritual practices in Britain in the period from C.AD1100-c.AD1900; analysed comparable evidence from other areas of predominantly north-west Europe, with some comparison with other areas of Europe and European historical colonial contexts; acquired an appreciation of the diversity of regional sequences; evaluated competing theoretical interpretation of this material.
  • The archaeology of towns in Britain, C. 12th-C18th: Developed a critical knowledge of the chronology, form and context of towns of varying nature in Britain in the period from C. AD 1100-C. AD 1800; analysed this evidence in the context of predominantly north-west Europe, with some comparison with other areas of Europe and European historical colonies; acquired an appreciation of the diversity of regional sequences; evaluated competing theoretical interpretations of this material.
  • Burial and Commemoration, AD 400 to 1100: Developed a critical knowledge of the different classes of British early medieval funerary sites, and associated practices and artifacts; acquired an appreciation of the regional and chronological diversity of this evidence; evaluated competing theoretical interpretations of this material.
  • Warlords, Holy Men and Tyrants: North East England c. AD 400-1100: Developed a critical knowledge of the archaeological and documentary evidence for the development of Northern England and Scotland from the end of the Roman period to the turn of the first millennium AD; acquired an appreciation of: the interactions between the British, the Anglo-Saxons, the Irish and the Picts; the rise of major kingdoms; the spread of Christianity; the impact of Viking raids; evidence for settlement and economy, the emergence of elites and kingdoms, the patterns of conflict and warfare, the process of religious change and of communication and exchange within and beyond the Northern world.
  • Environmental archaeology of the North Atlantic islands: Acquired a critical understanding of the archaeological evidence for human/environment interaction across a variety of island systems in the North Atlantic during the later prehistoric and Norse periods; become familiar with the current debates on colonisation and human impact on island environments; adaptation to marginal environments; economic continuity and change; multi-disciplinary case studies integrating a variety of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental techniques; reconstruction of Iron Age and Norse environment and economy of Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland Isles; human/environment interaction during the Norse expansion on the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland.
  • Townscapes in North Africa and the Near East: Developed an ability to demonstrate advanced levels of current knowledge and intensive understanding of: Roman and Late Antique urbanism (particularly in the North Africa – Tunisia, Libya, Algeria - and in the Near East), the diffusion of Christianity and the progressive Christianization of urban areas, the major debates on the fate of classical Roman towns after the fall of the Roman Empire, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine urbanism, early Arab occupation of classical Roman towns (did urban areas [in the civic sense] survive?); evaluated the available sources of evidence and current issues and interpretations; investigated and analysed specific case-studies for each period; considered in detail the re-use of former public buildings and the social, political and economic contexts in which these transformations occurred.
  • Archaeology and Economy: Developed a critical understanding of the historical background to, and significance of, the development of the Indian Ocean economy, and the basic historiographical problems related to it; demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the subject matter (specifically evidence relating to the development of the Indian Ocean economy between the 4th and the 17th Century) with specific knowledge of selected sites, regions, and case studies; show an in-depth understanding of the theory of writing economic history and addressing questions of economic development using archaeological evidence; be able critically to assess current issues and interpretations, and the evidence and theoretical positions which underpin them.
  • The Gulf and Eastern Arabia: Established a knowledge of the main archaeological evidence pertaining to the development of human society in Eastern Arabia from the first arrival of humans to the advent of the 20th century oil economy. Established a critical understanding of the main academic debates related the interpretation of this evidence and evaluated competing theoretical interpretations in relation to it. Gained a clearer understanding of the cultural and economic relationships between different regions around the Western Indian Ocean littoral and their development through time. Gained a basic understanding of local climatic factors and their potential affect on the development of human societies in a hyper-arid region.
  • Cultural Landscapes of Eurasia: Developed a critical understanding of the history of landscape archaeology and the range of approaches available; understood the key theoretical and methodological concepts involved in the study of the landscape; developed the capacity to analyse and interpret map data, aerial photographs and satellite imagery to make informed interpretations, understood the broad nature of landscape change in at least one major study region (UK, Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia).
  • Preservation of Archaeological Remains In Situ: Acquired a detailed knowledge of the history of the legal and physical protection of archaeological remains; acquired an understanding of the ethical issues involved in preservation; developed an appreciation of the nature of the burial environment; developed a detailed understanding of the physical strategies (reburial, display, shelters, maintenance) and legal mechanisms currently used for preserving archaeological remains; become familiar with the issues involved in enacting social, legal, physical, biological and chemical protection of archaeological remains in the modern heritage industry environment.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • ◦Students will have acquired an appreciation of the complexity and diversity data available on different temporal/spatial scales, have gathered relevant data and evaluated competing interpretations of available materials and data.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have developed independent research and learning skills.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Core content is delivered through instructor-led lectures also attended by Level 3 undergraduates, and a mixture of instructor-led and student-led tutorials/seminar classes dedicated to Level 4 (MA) students.
  • Instructor-led tutorials/seminar classes are small group learning environments which are interactive. They can: go over material from lectures; explain and discuss complex interpretations, theories and ideas; share opinions on set readings; or discuss a case study in depth.
  • Student-led tutorials/seminars can: require students to present to the group on essay topics, readings or case studies.
  • Lectures, instructor-led seminars and reading lists initiate students into various topics and provide guidance for them on readings, including archaeological reports, synthetic and theoretical literature.
  • There is an emphasis on developing critical reading through seminar discussion, but also on independent exploration and reading, aimed at building the critical appraisal and independent research skills in the intended learning outcomes.
  • Summative essays assess the grasp of material and ideas covered in the courses, ability to describe material, formulate problems and explain issues clearly in writing, evidence of critical and inquisitive thinking, and development of independent research and reading.

Teaching Methods and Contact Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 18 weekly 1 hour 18
Tutorials 20 weekly 1 hour 20
Preparation and Reading 562
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 1 2,000 words 50% Yes
Essay 2 2,000 words 50% Yes
Component: Essays 2 Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3 3,000 words 50% Yes
Essay 4 3,000 words 50% Yes

Formative Assessment:

The preparation achieved in the module RSS that precedes this module is considered to be sufficient formative preparation for the summative assignments in this module.


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University


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