• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Archaeology
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Geoffrey Clark
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2016
    See Future Offerings

Examining and quickly assessing materials (e.g. bone, stone, plants and deposits) form routine tasks on archaeological excavations, after sampling and during post-excavation research. This course provides flexibly delivered practical training introducing materials and assemblages commonly encountered during archaeological and forensic site investigations. Emphasis is on acquiring "hands-on" familiarity with materials and appropriate examination procedures (visible and non-visible assessment) including microscopy, diagnostic imaging, materials description and sampling. The course is introductory and base-level, appropriate to learning how to study and work in teams deploying using "mobile" laboratory equipment, and flexing analysis between field and advanced laboratory locations.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On completion of this course students will have:

1. Generic understanding of laboratory practice and microanalysis applications to archaeological materials

2. Generic understanding of distinguishing materials; preliminary identification of process history (e.g. indentifying wind-blown sands; water-rolled bones and shells)

3. Basic microscopy skills and instrumental micro-analysis skills

4. Experience of handling materials and replicate sampling, sub-sampling routine to professional descriptive standards; measurements against standards

5. Skills in screening and separating materials from deposits for more advanced analysis (e.g. extracting charcoals or diatoms or gastropods for imaging on SEM; selecting samples for dating)

6. Skills in selecting samples and assessing context reliability

7. Understanding of laboratory safe practice

Indicative Assessment

Each one week module will required the student to complete pre-set tasks examining materials. Each module will supply the students with handout, materials, tasks and sections of the handout where students must complete interpretive, reflective and analytical statements, based on materials provided that week. Students select 6 from 8 one week modules for assessment
(60% of course assessment - Assessment 1, LOs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
Understanding of laboratory procedures and interpretive skills is assessed in Week 10 (multiple choice set answer paper 30% - Assessment 2, LOs: 1, 2, 3).
Satisfactory completion of H&S laboratory skills training is assessed in Week 4 (10% - Assessment 3, LO: 7).

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On-line pre-reading block (30 hours); Induction training, H&S and orientation inductions (10 hours); 8 weekly modules each comprising (6 hours) lab work and (4 hours) independent study. 10 hours per module equals 80 hours. Total work load for course 120 hours over 1 semester.

Requisite and Incompatibility

You will need to contact the School of Culture History and Language to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Prescribed Texts

Weiner, S2010 Microarchaeology - beyond the visible record. CUP: Cambridge



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

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:
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 $3054
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2016 $4368
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
3543 15 Feb 2016 26 Feb 2016 31 Mar 2016 27 May 2016 In Person N/A

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