• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Archaeology

While most archaeological courses concern the Whats, Wheres and Whens of the past, this course addresses the Whys, Whos and Hows. This course will take a thematic approach to the changing ways archaeologists have interpreted past places, things and people since 1950 and to the development of regional archaeologies around the world.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course students will be expected to:

  1. Recognise the key concepts, themes and narratives used by archaeological theoreticians and discuss them within larger disciplinary, historical and national contexts;
  2. Critique the application of specific theoretical concepts and paradigms  to the archaeological record;
  3. Think, write and argue with these key concepts, themes and theories using supporting evidence from the archaeological record;
  4. Reflect on and discuss the ways various topics within archaeological theory apply to the practice of archaeology and the archaeological record of different regions.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Research essay 2500 words 40% [LO 1 - 4]
  2. Review essay 1500 words 30% [LO 1 - 4]
  3. Tutorial portfolio 1000 words 20% [LO 3 & 4]
  4. Guided tutorial discussion 10% [LO 2 - 4]

Regarding guided discussions:

Undergraduates will be expected to 'guide' a tutorial discussion by preparing summaries of supplementary reading and proposing discussion questions based around these texts.

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Contact hours: 3 hours per week comprising 2 hours lecture and 1 hour tutorial or equivalent online activity to be included in the tutorial portfolio.

Private study: It is expected that students will undertake 7 hours per week per unit of study toward the completion of assignments, class and essay preparation etc.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 6 units of ARCH (Archaeology) coded courses.

Prescribed Texts

Indicative Readings:

Johnson, M. 2010. Archaeological theory: an introduction. 2nd ed. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Other indicative texts (*chapters/papers in):

*Ashmore, W. & Knapp, A.B. eds. 1999. Archaeologies of landscape: contemporary perspectives. Oxford: Blackwell.

*Bentley, R.A., Maschner, H.D.G. & Chippindale, C. eds. 2008. Handbook of archaeological theories. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.

  Binford, L. 1983, In pursuit of the Past. Decoding the archaeological record, London: Thames and Hudson

*Binford, S.R. & Binford, L.R. eds. 1968. New perspectives in archeology. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co.

*Bintliff, J.L. ed. 1991. The Annales school and archaeology. Leicester: Leicester University Press.

Clark, JDG 1954. The Economic Approach to Prehistory. Proceedings of the British Academy, 39: 215-38.

*Clark, JDG. 1952: Prehistoric Europe: The economic basis, London, Methuen & Co.

Clarke, D. L. 1973: Archaeology: the loss of innocence. Antiquity, 47, 6-18.

Clarke, D.L. 1978, Analytical archaeology, 2nd ed. revised by Bob Chapman. London: Methuen.

Conkey, M.W. & Gero, J.M. 1997. Programme to practice: Gender and feminism in archaeology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 26: 411-37.

*Dark, K. R. 1995: Theoretical archaeology, London, Duckworth.

*David, N. & Kramer, C. 2001: Ethnoarchaeology in action, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

*Deetz, J. 1977: In small things forgotten: the archaeology of early American life, London, Doubleday.

Dobres, M.-A. 1995. Gender and Prehistoric Technology: On the Social Agency of Technical Strategies. World Archaeology, 27 (1): 25-49.

Dobres, M.-A. 2000. Technology and social agency: outlining a practice framework for archaeology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Dobres, M.-A. & Hoffman, C. 1994. Social agency and the dynamics of prehistoric technology. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 1 (3): 211-58.

*Dobres, M.-A. & Robb, J.E. eds. 2000. Agency in archaeology. London: Routledge.

Earle, T.K. 1987. Chiefdoms in archaeological and ethnohistorical perspective. Annual review of anthropology, 16: 279-308.

*Earle, T.K. 1997. How chiefs come to power: the political economy in prehistory. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Fowler, C. 2004. The archaeology of personhood: an anthropological approach. London: Routledge.

*Gathercole, P.W. & Lowenthal, D. eds. 1990. The Politics of the past: Unwin Hyman.

*Gilchrist, R. 1999. Gender and archaeology: contesting the past. London: Routledge.

*Gosden, C. 1999. Anthropology and archaeology: a changing perspective. London: Routledge.

*Gosden, C. 2004. Archaeology and colonialism: cultural contact from 5000 BC to the present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gosden, C. 2005. What do objects want? Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 12 (3): 193-211.

Gosden, C. & Head, L. 1994. Landscape - a usefully ambiguous concept. Archaeology in Oceania, 29: 113-16.

Gosden, C. & Marshall, Y. 1999. The cultural biography of objects. World Archaeology, 31 (2): 169-78.

Hawkes, C. 1954: Archaeological Theory and Method: some suggestions from the Old World. American anthropologist, 56, 155-168.

Hegemon, M. 2003. Setting Theoretical Egos Aside: Issues and Theory in North American Archaeology American Antiquity, 68 (2): 213-43.

*Hicks, D. & Beaudry, M.C. eds. 2010. The Oxford handbook of material culture studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hodder, I. 1977: The distribution of material culture items in the Baringo district, Western Kenya. Man, 12, 239-269.

*Hodder, I. & Hutson, S. 2003: Reading the past: current approaches to interpretation in archaeology, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Kohl, P. 1985. Symbolic, Cognitive Archaeology: A new Loss of Innocence. Dialectical anthropology, 9: 105-117.

Leone, M.P., Potter, P.B. & Shackel, P.A. 1987. Toward a critical archaeology. Current Anthropology, 28: 283-302.

*Maschner, H.D.G. ed. 1996. Darwinian archaeologies. New York: Plenum Press.

*Parker Pearson, M. & Richards, C. eds. 1994. Architecture and order: approaches to social space. London: Routledge.

Pollard, A.M. & Bray, P. 2007. A bicycle made for two? The integration of scientific techniques into archaeological interpretation. Annual review of anthropology, 36: 245-59.

*Preucel, R.W. & Hodder, I. eds. 1996. Contemporary archaeology in theory. Oxford: Blackwell.

*Preucel, R.W. & Mrozowski, S.A. eds. 2010. Contemporary archaeology in theory: the new pragmatism. 2nd ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

*Schiffer, M.B. 1976. Behavioral archeology. New York: Academic Press.

*Schiffer, M.B. 1987. Formation processes of the archaeological record. 1st ed ed. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

*Shanks, M. & Tilley, C. Y. 1987a: Re-constructing archaeology: theory and practice, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

*Shanks, M. & Tilley, C. Y. 1987b: Social theory and archaeology, Cambridge, Polity.

*Sørensen, M.L.S. 2000. Gender archaeology. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Stark, M. 1991: Production and community specialization: A Kalinga ethnoarchaeological study. World Archaeology, 23, 64-78.

*Stark, M. ed. 1998. The archaeology of social boundaries. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.

 Tilley, C.Y. 1994. A phenomenology of landscape: places, paths and monuments. Oxford: Berg.

*Tilley, C.Y. ed. 2006. Handbook of material culture. London: SAGE Publications.

*Trigger, B.G. 2006. A history of archaeological thought. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vita-Finzi, C. & Higgs, E.S. 1970. Prehistoric Economy in the Mount Carmel Area of Palestine: Site Catchment Analysis. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 36: 1-37.

Watson, RA 1972: The 'new archaeology' of the 1960s. Antiquity, 66, 210-215.

*Whitley, D.S. ed. 1998. Reader in archaeological theory: post-processual and cognitive approaches. London: Routledge.

*Wylie, A. 2002. Thinking from things: essays in the philosophy of archaeology. Berkeley: University of California Press.

*Yoffee, N. & Sherratt, A. eds. 1993. Archaeological theory: who sets the agenda? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.




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If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Band 1
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $2718
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $3876
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings and Dates

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery
4413 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 In Person

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