Faculty of Arts


Field Methods in Archaeology


This course outlines field method in archaeology through practical experience and theoretical investigation. At the field school in February you participated in an active research project and learnt a range of practical skills. During the Semester we will cover theoretical underpinnings for the field methods employed and the legislative framework for archaeological practice in New Zealand and globally, in addition to applying these skills to an individual research project. In a nutshell, first you do it, and then we teach you why we did it that particular way.

You are expected to participate in all classes and assessment. This course will require you to engage with literature and debate on key issues in archaeological field practice, data recording and analysis. You will be expected to develop your own case study project. This requires you to engage with literature on key issues in New Zealand archaeology and methodological debate relevant to your case study. We will use the Ahuahu Great Mercury Island archaeological project as the data set for your case study.

The assessment for the course is designed to reflect the research process of archaeology. In a very real sense it encompasses all the parts of our jobs as archaeologists. You are required to submit a final piece of writing at the end of the Semester formatted as though you would submit it to a peer reviewed academic journal and to present your results to the class, as you might at a conference presentation.

By the end of the Semester you should be able to confidently engage in debate on the method and theory of archaeological field practice. Learning objectives are divided into two parts. The first are for the field work in February. These include largely practical skills such as describing a site, distinguishing changes in sediment layers and various types of recording methods.

The second set of learning objectives will be achieved during class time in Semester One. These involve investigating key theoretical and methodological issues that drive developments in archaeological field practice. This will include understanding landscape archaeology and formation theory, making field observation and interpretation, heritage legislation and developing a research question and proposal.

Assessments include participating in discussion sessions, writing a field report, developing a research question and proposal with relevant references and giving a group presentation.

Class limits information for 2019 Enrolment is limited to 16 students. First priority: students majoring in Anthropology or Anthropological Science, ranked by GPA in their best three Anthropology or Anthropological Science courses. Second priority: students with an Anthropology minor, ranked by GPA in their best three Anthropology or Anthropological Science courses. Other students will be offered places in the course, if available, according to their GPA in their best three Anthropology courses.

Course is by application only. Applications due to Dr Joshua Emmitt (josh.emmitt@auckland.ac.nz) by 16 November 2018.

Availability 2019

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Dr Joshua Emmitt


Coursework only


ANTHRO 317: 15.0 points


ANTHRO 200 passed with a grade of B- or higher



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