(ARCH026) Introduction to Archaeological Techniques: Science and Theory

Archaeological Dig


Course start date: Monday 26th September 2022
Course end date: Friday 2nd December 2022
Early Bird Price £135:

Tutor: Dr Tina Tuohy
Course Code: ARCH026
Level: Non-accredited, non-credit bearing
Assessments/Exams: None. Throughout the course you will be given ideas and questions to respond to in the online discussion area. Participation in online discussion is encouraged, but not compulsory.
Duration: 10 weeks
Estimated Student Study Time: 2 – 5 hours per week are recommended, but time spent is flexible and at your discretion.
Fee: £150.00
Pre-Requisite Course(s): None
Delivery: Online Distance Learning
Late Entrants: If this course is not full by the start date then late entrants will be accepted for up to two weeks after the start of the course. As a late entrant you can choose to catch up on the material you have missed or you can skip the missed weeks and concentrate on the material at the point where you join the course, but unfortunately we cannot offer fee reductions or course extensions for late entrants.
Recommended Reading**: A list of suggested books and websites is provided within the course
Required Reading**: None

**Please note: All courses are subject to sufficient numbers of students registering before they are confirmed as running. Therefore, after booking your place you are advised not to purchase any texts until you have received confirmation that the course is running.

This course was previously taught by Dr Tina Tuohy when it was offered by the University of Exeter*. If you studied it with the University of Exeter* you might not wish to study it again with Learn for Pleasure as although we have revised and updated our courses where necessary, it will likely be substantively the same.


Material remains represent the starting point for all archaeological investigation. They include anything created by human activity in the past, from objects or artefacts, to structures, modified landscapes or works of art. The range of techniques to investigate these remains, developed by archaeologists and adapted from other disciplines, is fascinatingly varied and this is reflected in the course content. The course is designed with several self-test exercises and other interactive devices to enhance learning.

The course aims to use the description of some techniques in common practice today to comprehensively introduce the study of archaeology. It is arranged around the broad themes detailed below:

  • Artefact studies including provenancing and microscopy techniques for investigating the manufacture, distribution and use of artefacts.
  • Techniques in dating: Dendrochronology (tree ring dating) and Radiocarbon Dating.
  • Experimental and ethnoarchaeological studies and how they have added to our knowledge.
  • Landscape and the environment.
  • Broader issues of interpretation and theory and the dynamic relationship between these and the material remains.

Syllabus Plan

Week 1: Studying Artefacts
Week 2: Studying Artefacts: Provenance
Week 3: Dating: General Concepts and Techniques
Week 4: Dating: Radiocarbon Dating
Week 5: Dating: Dendrochronology (Tree-Ring Dating)
Week 6: Landscape and Environment in Archaeology
Week 7: Landscape and Environment in Archaeology: Case Study – the Early Bronze Age East Anglian Fens
Week 8: Experimental Archaeology
Week 9: Ethnoarchaeology
Week 10: Archaeological Theory