Faculty of Arts


Archaeology in Practice


Archaeological analysis covers, at least in common parlance, almost everything one does as an archaeologist in the laboratory. In ANTHRO 353 (15 points) we will be looking at analysis in the strict sense; that is the techniques for making archaeologically significant observations on artefacts. The focus of our interest will be on artefacts in the traditional sense of the term: more or less intentional portable products of human activity.

The variety of objects that qualify as artefacts in the traditional sense is enormous and the number of techniques available for examination is nearly as large. Consequently, ANTHRO 353 is only able to consider a fraction of either. We will cover basic techniques for observation and measurement of general, demonstrated value; some techniques which require complex equipment or greater investment in time will be treated in lectures only, while the basic techniques will actually be learned. Similarly, while we will talk about a larger range of artefacts, we will concentrate our experience on a small number of major classes of artefacts, those that comprise the bulk of the archaeological record in the Pacific and other places.

The course is divided into modules. In the first we consider measurement and observation generally, and then with special reference to artefacts. The objectives of this section are to become familiar and comfortable with a useful range of techniques and to master the business of measurement. In the first few lectures, our principal concerns will focus on the interrelationship between theory, classification and measurement, measurement error and its inevitable presence and influence on precision and accuracy. We will conclude this section by examining general considerations when developing analytic protocols.

The other sections will treat broad classes of artefacts – lithic or stone artefacts, ceramic artefacts and other frequently encountered artefacts including midden remains (mainly food-waste shell) and ornaments. In each section we will sketch the history of analysis of the artefact class, outline the kinds of attributes pertinent to technological, functional and stylistic analyses, and consider how useful observations and measurements may be generated.

Availability 2021

Not taught in 2021




Coursework only; no exam


ANTHRO 353: 15.0 points


ANTHRO 200 or ANTHRO 201 with a minimum B- grade

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