• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Archaeology
  • Areas of interest Archaeology, Biological Anthropology

The course examines the interaction between humans and their environment as a way to interpret human behaviour and its impact on animals and plants. From prehistoric times, human populations needed to understand animals' and plants' ethology, characteristics and distribution to obtain the necessary resources (for nutritional and non-nutritional purposes) to survive in a changing and harsh environment. After the Neolithic revolution, the domestication of plants and animals changed the way humans interacted with their environments, as well as leading to changes in animal and plant physiology. The interpretation of these processes is an interdisciplinary field which includes not only subjects as osteology, genetics and environmental studies but it also comprises some non-tangible aspects such as religion and iconography. This diversity will result in a wide range of lectures, tutorials and essay topics.  Course topics will include: subsistence strategies before domestication; morphological and genetic changes brought by animal and plant domestication; identifying the centres of origins for domestication in different continents; and iconography of animal and plants.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Discuss and interpret how regional environmental factors played a role on foraging strategies;
  2. Place key sites discussed within broader regional context of hunting and gathering strategy;
  3. Critically discuss how different modes of technology that emerged in the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene reshaped hunting and plant processing strategies and the transition from hunting to agriculture and animal domestication;
  4. Explain the methodological and analytical techniques used to identify wild from domestic plants in the archaeological record; and
  5. Identify basic physiological traits of wild and domestic species and discuss their appearance in the archaeological record.

Indicative Assessment

Research Poster (15%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4]
Poster Presentation, 10 minutes (10%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4]
Wattle quizzes, 40 minutes each (7.5% each for a total of 15%)  [Learning Outcomes 1, 2]
Practical tests, 30 minutes each (10% each for a total of 20%) [Learning Outcomes 4, 5]
Argumentative Essay, 5000 words (40%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

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.


130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 42 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 18 hours of lectures and 24 hours of seminars; and
b) 88 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 6 units of Archeology (ARCH) courses. You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed ARCH2108

Prescribed Texts

Zeder, M. Bradley, D., Emshwiller, E. and Smith, B.D. (eds). 2006. Documenting Domestication: New Genetic and Archaeological Paradigms, Oakland: University of California Press.
Bellwood, P. 2005. First farmers: The origins of agricultural societies, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Preliminary Reading

Barker, G., 2006. The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory: Why did Foragers become Farmers? Oxford University Press
Binford, L.R., 1981. Bones: Ancient men and modern myths. Academic Press
Binford, L.R., 1983. In Pursuit of the Past: Decoding the archaeological record. Thames and Hudson
Brain, C.K., 1981. The Hunters or the Hunted? An introduction to African cave taphonomy. University of Chicago Press
Clutton-Brock, J. (ed), 1989. The Walking Larder: Patterns of Domestication, Pastoralism and   Predation. Tailor & Francis Ltd., London
Clutton-Brock, J., 2012. Animals as Domesticates: a World View through History (the Animal turn). Michigan State University Press
Mason, I.L. (ed), 1984. Evolution of domesticated animals. Prentice Hall Press
Zohary, D., Hopf, M., and Weiss, E., 2012. Domestication of Plants in the Old World: the origin and spread of domesticated plants in Southwest Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. Oxford University Press


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
2018 $3180
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4860
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
8849 22 Jul 2019 29 Jul 2019 31 Aug 2019 25 Oct 2019 In Person N/A

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