• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Archaeology
  • Areas of interest Archaeology, Heritage Studies

This course will serve as an introduction to the prehistory of Europe from the first farming communities to the Roman era from the Balkans to Britain, and Norway to the Iberian Peninsula. From 8000 BC to the 1st century AD people on the European continent developed new technologies, adopted unique ways of life and built the monuments which fill our TV screens. This course asks who they were and how they did it.

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. Analyse the key concepts, themes and narratives used to explain prehistoric European societies;
  2. Think, write and argue with these key concepts, themes and theories using supporting evidence from the archaeological record;
  3. Recognise important sites and material culture and discuss them within larger technological, social and culture-historical contexts;
  4. Evaluate and compare key archaeological data and present them in writing, visually and orally.

Indicative Assessment

5 minute in class lecture quizzes (5 during the semester), (1% each for a total of 5%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 3]
Site evaluation essay, 2000 words (30%) [Learning Outcomes 2-4]
Research proposal, 350-400 words (5%) [Learning Outcomes 2, 3]
Annotated bibliography of 10 sources towards completion of independent research (20%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 4]
Research Poster of semester-long research project (40%) [Learning Outcomes 1-4]

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed or be currently studying 6 units of 1000 level Archaeology (ARCH) courses. Incompatible with ARCH6058.

Prescribed Texts

Indicative Readings:

Cunliffe, B.W. 2008. Europe between the oceans : themes and variations: 9000 BC to AD 1000. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Milisauskas, S. ed. 2002. European prehistory: a survey. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.


Other indicative texts (*chapters/papers in):

Ammerman, A.J. and Cavalli-Sforza, L.L. 1971. Measuring the rate of spread of early farming in Europe. Man 6: 674-688.

*Bailey, D.W. 2000. Balkan Prehistory. London: Routledge.

*Bailey, G.N. & Spikins, P. eds. 2008. Mesolithic Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

*Bellwood, P.S. 2005. First farmers: the origins of agricultural societies. Oxford: Blackwell.

Bogaard, A. 2005. ‘Garden agriculture’ and the nature of early farming in Europe and the Near East. World Archaeology 37: 177-196.

*Bogucki, P.I. & Crabtree, P.J. eds. 2004. Ancient Europe 8000 B.C.-A.D. 1000: Encyclopedia of the Barbarian world. London: Charles Scribner's & Sons.

*Bradley, R. 1998. The Significance of Monuments. London: Routledge.

*Brumfiel, E.M. & Earle, T.K. eds. 1987. Specialization, exchange, and complex societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 *Carr, G. & Stoddart, S. 2002. Celts from antiquity. Cambridge: Antiquity Publications.

Collis, J. 2003. The Celts: origins, myths and inventions. Stroud: Tempus.

*Creighton, J. 2000. Coins and power in late Iron Age Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*Cunliffe, B.W. ed. 1994. The Oxford illustrated prehistory of Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

*Cunliffe, B.W. 2001. Facing the ocean: the Atlantic and its peoples, 8000 BC-AD 1500. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

*Demakopoulou, K., Eluère, C., Jensen, J., Jockenhövel, A. & Mohen, J.-P. eds. 1999. Gods and heroes of the Bronze Age: Europe at the time of Ulysses. London: Thames and Hudson.

*Edmonds, M.R. & Richards, C. eds. 1998. Understanding the Neolithic of north-western Europe. Glasgow: Cruithne Press.

Gilman, A. 1981 The development of social stratification in Bronze Age Europe. Current Anthropology 22: 1-8.

Harding, A.F. 2000. European societies in the Bronze Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*Haselgrove, C. & Moore, T. 2007. The later Iron Age in Britain and beyond. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

*Haselgrove, C. & Pope, R. 2007. The earlier Iron Age in Britain and the near continent. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Henderson, J.C. 2007. The Atlantic Iron Age: settlement and identity in the first millennium BC. London: Routledge.

Hodder, I. 1990. The Domestication of Europe. Oxford: Blackwell.

*James, S. 1999. The Atlantic Celts: ancient people or modern invention? London: British Museum Press.

Johansen, K. L., Laursen, S. T., and Holst, M. K. 2004. Spatial patterns of social organisation in the Early Bronze Age of South Scandinavia. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 23: 33-55.

*Mattingly, D.J. 2006. An imperial possession: Britain in the Roman Empire, 54 BC-AD 409. London: Allen Lane.

*Milner, N. & Woodman, P.C. eds. 2005. Mesolithic studies at the beginning of the 21st century. Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Moscati, S., Arslan, E.A., Vitali, D., Palazzo, G. & Kruta, V. 1999. The Celts. New York: Rizzoli.

Needham, S. 2005. Transforming Beaker culture in North West Europe: processes of fission and fusion. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 71: 171-217.

*Perlès C. 2001 The Early Neolithic in Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*Price, T.D. ed. 2000. Europe's first farmers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, M.P., R.J. Schulting, and R.E.M. Hedges. 2003. Sharp shift in diet at onset of Neolithic. Nature 425: 366.

Robb J. 2007. The early Mediterranean village: Agency, material culture and social change in Neolithic Italy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Roberts, B.W. 2008. Creating traditions and shaping technologies: understanding the earliest metal objects and metal production in Western Europe. World Archaeology, 40 (3): 354-72.

Roberts, B.W. 2009. Metallurgical Networks and Technological Choice: Understanding early metal in Western Europe. Journal of World Prehistory, 22: 461-81.

Roberts, B.W., Thornton, C. & Piggott, V.C. 2009. Development of metallurgy in Eurasia. Antiquity, 83: 1012-22.

Rowley-Conwy, P. 1995. Making First Farmers Younger: The West European Evidence Current Anthropology, 36 (2): 346-53.

Rowley-Conwy, P. 2004. How the west was lost. A reconsideration of agricultural origins in Britain, Ireland and Southern Scandinavia. Current Anthropology, 45 (supplement): 83-113.

Scarre, C. 2002. A pattern of islands: the Neolithic monuments of north-west Brittany. European Journal of Archaeology 5: 24-41.

Shennan, S. J. 1986. Central Europe in the third millennium BC: an evolutionary trajectory for         the beginning of the European Bronze Age. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 5: 115-146.

*Sherratt, A. ed. 1997. Economy and society in prehistoric Europe: changing perspectives. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Skeates, R. 2000. The social dynamics of enclosure in the Neolithic of the Tavoliere, South-east Italy.  Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 13: 155-188.

Sørensen, M. L. S. 1997 Reading dress: the construction of social categories and identities in Bronze Age Europe Journal of European Archaeology 5(1): 93-114.

Treherne, J. 1995 The warrior’s beauty: the masculine body and self-identity in Bronze Age Europe. Journal of European Archaeology 3(1): 105-145.

Vander Linden, M. 2007a. What linked the Bell Beakers in third millennium BC Europe? Antiquity 81 (312): 343-52.

Vander Linden, M. 2007b. For equalities are plural: Reassessing the social in Europe during the third millennium BC. World Archaeology 39(2):177-193

Vandkilde, H. 2007. Culture and change in Central European prehistory: 6th to 1st millenium BC. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.

*Wells, P.S. 2001. Beyond Celts, Germans and Scythians: archaeology and identity in Iron Age Europe. London: Duckworth.

Whittle, A.W.R. 1996. Europe in the Neolithic: the creation of new worlds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

*Whittle, A.W.R. & Cummings, V. 2007. Going over: the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in north-west Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy.

Zapata, L. et al. 2004. Early Neolithic agriculture in the Iberian Peninsula. Journal of World Prehistory 18: 283-325.

Zvelebil, M. 2006. Mobility, contact, and exchange in the Baltic Sea basin 6000–2000 BC. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 25: 178-192.




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Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

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6.00 0.12500
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2020 $3120
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2020 $4800
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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
4482 22 Feb 2021 01 Mar 2021 31 Mar 2021 28 May 2021 In Person View

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