• Class Number 2022
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Duncan Wright
    • Duncan Wright
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

How many courses do you know that provide tools required to unravel past lives from ancient sites and objects? This course aims to do just that, giving you an introduction to archaeology and the various techniques archaeologists use to investigate the past. Archaeologists dig holes in the ground, but they also work underwater, in museums and in laboratories. You will learn about all these archaeologies, get hands-on experience working with archaeological materials and develop skills required to review and interpret the archaeological literature.

Learning Outcomes

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

Upon Successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Apply essential skills for classifying and interpreting archaeological materials;
  2. Understand the diversity of archaeological techniques and their roles in uncovering information about past peoples;
  3. Critique archaeological excavation reports and evaluate the quality of fieldwork and the conclusions reached; and
  4. Identify objects in museum collections and reflect on the information they contain.

Research-Led Teaching

Teaching rationale

Being an archaeologist or a cultural heritage specialist requires you to possess core skill-sets: Group 1 = Ability to interpret sites and objects using good archaeological practice; and Group 2 = specialist (e.g. stone artefact recording/analysis) and generic (report writing, teamwork) skills. We will cover both of these in lectures and tutorials. So, weeks 1-7 (Group 1) provide you with a background to archaeology including the techniques used around the world by archaeologists to understand past peoples. You will learn how to assess what is good and bad archaeological practice and will develop study skills (essay and exam writing) required to ace your assessments! These activities are aligned with Assessment 1. In weeks 8-11 (Group 2) you will develop specialist skills and be shown how to place sites and artefacts within their archaeological context. You will be taught skills by a range of

specialists in order to develop a solid foundation in archaeological practice. You will be given an opportunity to demonstrate these skills in Assessments 2 and 3. Lectures/exercises and associated readings will assist you with all assessments.

Required Resources

The core text for this course is:

1) Renfrew, C. and P. Bahn. 2008. Archaeology: Theories, Methods, and Practice (5th Edition or equivalent). London: Thames and Hudson.

This is on short term loan in the library and can be bought from the Coop bookshop (Union Court). It is important to read this all, however, concentrate on any subject also covered during lectures or tutorials (relevant chapters for each week will also be highlighted on the Wattle site). Comprehension will be assessed at the end through an exam.

By the Week 4 tutorial you should have also read: Rathje, W. L. 1984. The Garbage decade. American Behavioural Scientist 28(1): 9-29. (uploaded on Wattle)

By the Week 7 tutorial you should have read: Bowdler, S. 2006 Mollusks and other shells. In J. Balme and A. Paterson (eds), Archaeology in Practice: A Student Guide to Archaeological Analyses, pp.316-337. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. (uploaded on Wattle)

By the Week 7 lecture you should have read: Wiltshire, K.D. 2017 From archaeologist to archivist: exploring the research potential, content and management of a moving image archive. Advances in Archaeological Practice 5(3):289-296. (uploaded on Wattle)

By the Week 8 lecture you should have read: Marshall, Y. 2002. What is community archaeology? World Archaeology 32:2. (uploaded on Wattle)

An additional recommended reading is: McIntosh, J. 1999. “The Practical archaeologist: How we know what we know about the past” (2nd edition). New York: Facts on File.


Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Essay notes

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Other Information


Referencing is a vital part of all academic writing. You must reference in the text of your essay ALL information and ideas derived from your reading, not just those parts which are direct quotations. This is an important part of academic professional practice.

In Archaeology, the Harvard system of referencing is followed. There are guides available on Wattle to assist you with this.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Lecture: SO YOU WANT TO BE AN ARCHAEOLOGIST? I) Introduction to the course ii) Stones, bones, shipwrecks and holes in the ground No tutorial
2 Lecture: DIGGING IN THE DIRT I) Excavation, survey and everything in between ii) Essay writing (Shaun Lehmann) Tutorial: Introduction and assessment
3 Lecture: THE ARCHAEOLOGIES I) Classical Archaeology ii) Historical and Maritime Archaeology Tutorial: Working with objects: attributes, ages, assemblages
4 Lecture: MEASURING TIME I) Scientific techniques for archaeological dating (Rachel Wood) ii) Dating the last Neanderthals (Rachel Wood) Tutorial: The garbage project Assessment 1
5 Lecture: ENTER THE STONE AGE i) Introducing stone artefacts (Nejman) ii) Using scient to investigate archaeological finds Tutorial: Study skills workshop: essays
6 Lecture: ARCHAEOLOGY OF ART I) Art through the age (Iain Johnston) ii) Studying rock art in the Northern Territory Tutorial: The graffiti project
7 Lecture: WORKING AS AN ARCHAEOLOGIST i) Working within an Aboriginal organisation & the Australian Public Service Working as a consultant (Alistair Grinsberg) Tutorial: Introduction to shells and middens Assessment 2
8 Lecture: I) Exam workshop ii) No lecture Tutorial: No tutorial – work on your essays
9 Lecture: USING POTS TO GET TO PEOPLE I) Archaeology using pots ii) Pottery in the Pacific Tutorial: Pottery analysis
10 Lecture: LET THE BONES SPEAK I) studying human skeletal remains (Felicity Gilbert) ii) An introduction to zooarchaeology (Rani Litster) Tutorial: Faunal remains
11 Lecture: Putting the past back together I) Putting the past back together ii) No lecture Tutorial: Stone artefact analysis Assessment 3
12 Lecture: PUTTING THE PAST BACK TOGETHER I) Putting the past back together ii) Where to go from here? Tutorial: No tutorial – exam prep Assessment 4

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Excavation Report Evaluation 15 % 23/03/2019 10/04/2019 2, 3, 5
Short Object Essay 25 % 04/05/2019 17/05/2019 1, 2, 4, 5
Laboratory Portfolio 25 % 25/05/2019 12/06/2019 1, 2, 5
Short Answer Exam 35 % 09/06/2019 20/06/2019 1, 2, 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


You are required to attend laboratories which are assessed (#3).

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 23/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 10/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3, 5

Excavation Report Evaluation

Length: 1000 words

Purpose of Assignment: When you graduate you will need to show employers that you are competent and culturally aware, capable of providing useful/ thoughtful insights on archaeological projects. You can start here by using information acquired during lectures, tutorials and readings to critique an excavation report.

Instructions: Read one of the excavation reports uploaded on Wattle. Summarise and address:

  • The research goals for the excavation
  • The techniques used (both in the excavation and materials analysis)
  • The conclusions drawn from the research by the authors
  • Whether or not results justify interpretation, how successfully author/s have addressed the research goals and (if applicable) whether other interpretations may fit results.
  • You are not required to use other source materials (i.e. papers relating to the site/ research) although it may assist your argument to do so.

Marking criteria:

  • Accuracy in describing issues and facts
  • Range/comprehensiveness of material covered
  • Depth of understanding
  • Structure and presentation
  • Clarity of expression

Submission details: Work is to be submitted via Wattle.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 04/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 17/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 4, 5

Short Object Essay

Length: 1500 words and up to 3 images

Purpose of assignment: This will prepare you for future work in cultural heritage by increasing your capacity for analysing and interpreting archaeological artefacts. Specifically, you will learn how artefact form (and archaeological context) allows you to interpret a human story.

Instructions: Visit a museum with archaeological material on display (such as the National Museum of Australia in Canberra). Choose an object on display, research it and

write an object history based on your research.

Using the skills learned in this course and your own independent research you should:

  • Describe the object (e.g. raw material/manufacture techniques).
  • Situate the object (e.g. place of origin, age, if possible other artefacts found at the same site);
  • Discuss how archaeologists have used this object (and others like it) to study past human behaviour, technology, economy and / or ideology;
  • Describe how knowledge of context (where it was found and how old it is) increases our understanding about this object.
  • Evaluate how the object is displayed in the museum, what it is displayed with, what information is given to the public and whether you believe this display is appropriate based on your own research.

Marking criteria: The essays will be assessed on the following criteria:

  • Accuracy in describing object
  • Range/comprehensiveness/ relevance of material covered (i.e. you are expected to reference academic books/journal articles NOT WEBSITES (only), if possible talk to the curator – use your initiative!)
  • Depth of understanding
  • Originality
  • Critical approach to sources and discussion of previous work
  • Use of illustrations (optional)
  • Structure and presentation

Your essay must be written to academic standards and be fully and completely referenced (reference lists will not count towards the word count).

Submission details: Work is to be submitted via Wattle.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 25/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 12/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 5

Laboratory Portfolio

Length: No word count.

Purpose of assignment: A good way of cementing core archaeology skills covered in this course is for you to do/ study these for yourself. Worksheets will prepare you for a time when you are working on your own archaeological site or assemblage!

Instructions: In many of the tutorials a worksheet will be handed out. Some parts of the worksheet you should fill out as you carry out the lab, other parts you can fill out at home as you reflect on what you have learned and how it fits with your lectures.

You may re-write or type the worksheets for clarity, but clear, hand-written submissions will not be penalised.

Grades for each worksheet will be amalgamated and then averaged to provide a final mark. Should you be unable to attend any tutorials (and try very hard to avoid this) you must contact your tutor in advance.

Marking criteria:

  • Attention to detail
  • Completeness
  • Quality of work
  • Clarity of expression

Submission details: Worksheets should be stapled or bound together and submitted in hardcopy in your final tutorial.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 09/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 20/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 5

Short Answer Exam

Length: 3 hours (40 questions, 2-4 sentences per question)

Purpose of assignment: The purpose of this exam is to measure your overall comprehension of material covered during the semester. This will provide you with a solid foundation in archaeological practice.

Instructions: For this assignment you will be answering questions about the topics discussed during the course (lectures and tutorials). For this reason it is vital that you listen to lectures and attend laboratories. To show a solid comprehension of course material you must also read textbooks and other assigned material.

Marking criteria:

  • Comprehension of subject
  • Quality of work

Submission details: Hard copies will be collected after the exam.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Please note: As a matter of routine, a sample of written work is double-marked for each assessment to ensure accountability and consistency. Should you wish to discuss marking in more detail, please contact the lecturer (mirani.litster@anu.edu.au). All written assignments should deal fully with the set topic and present a reasoned, structured and coherent argument. It is essential that you proof read your work, and remember to check spelling, syntax and grammar. These are all skills that are important for report/ paper writing in future employment or further studies so it’s worth getting it right early!

A picture may save many words. Consider carefully whether illustrations will contribute to the overall presentation and content of your essay. If you can easily scan a diagram or other illustration into your essay, definitely consider it. Alternatively, photocopy the illustration, cut it out and glue it in. Hand-drawn illustrations are fine, but they can take a lot of time if they are to look reasonably neat. However you present your illustrations and research, make sure you indicate where you got these from (important: see below on plagiarism).

Where possible, your written work should be submitted as a word file on Wattle. If you choose to submit hardcopies in the office, you must use a cover sheet. Use 1.5 line spacing, number all page, indicate the word count and fasten securely together with the cover sheet. Lateness will be calculated based on date/time of submission on wattle. Make sure you keep a copy (photocopy or file on your computer) and keep to the word count.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Duncan Wright

Research Interests

Duncan Wright

Tuesday 15:00 16:00
Tuesday 15:00 16:00
Duncan Wright

Research Interests

Duncan Wright

Tuesday 15:00 16:00
Tuesday 15:00 16:00

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