The study of ancient religion and ritual presents unique challenges to the archaeologist. In the absence of writing, religious ideas tend to be expressed indirectly and symbolically. Such manifestations of religion can be difficult to accurately interpret, however, doing so correctly offers exciting potentials for understanding prehistoric thoughts and beliefs. In this course we will examine origins and development of religion. We will survey archaeologies of world religions and determine the materiality of sacred and secular ritual expression. We shall explore rituals associated with death such as sacrifice, mummification and cannibalism; shamanistic practices as shown in rock art from Kazakhstan to cave art in France and Spain; the rise of "fertility cult" figurines from Czech Republic to Malta; totemic beliefs and ancestor worship in Torres Strait and ritual landscapes surrounding Stonehenge.
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) Recognise principal themes, issues and debates within the archaeology of religion
2) Evaluate the antiquity and global variation of ancient religions
3) Identify markers of ritual and religion in the archaeological record
Other InformationThe course will include field-trips.
Indicative AssessmentDesign/ coordinate a mini tutorial (small group exercise) on a topic of student interest (for a total of 15%) comprising:
a) Post discussion questions (x5, max. 100 words) and focused readings (x2) on Wattle prior to tutorial (5%) and
b) presentation of 10 minutes & coordinated discussion of 10 minutes (10%) Learning Outcome 1
Reflective Essay, 1500 words (30%) Learning Outcome 3
Research Report, 2500 words (55%) Learning Outcome 1,2,3
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 34 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 22 hours of lectures and 12 hours of workshop and workshop-like activities.
b) 96 hours of independent student research, reading and writing
Where possible you should attend all lectures and tutorials, there will be material given out in these that you will not obtain elsewhere. Should you miss lectures it is critical that you listen to these on Wattle.
Prescribed TextsSteadman, S. 2009. The archaeology of religion: Cultures and their beliefs in worldwide contexts. California, Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press
Wesler, K. 2012. An archaeology of religion. Lanham: University Press of America
Insoll, T. 2009. Archaeology, ritual, religion. London, New York: Routledge
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.
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- Unit value:
- 6 units
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