ANSC 321: Archaeological Field and Lab Methods
Prerequisites: ANSC 201, 301; or ANTH 122 or 222; or permission of instructor
Credit Hours: (3)
This course provides advanced training in field and laboratory methods in archaeology. It includes limited field investigations, training in the processing and analysis of both prehistoric and historic artifact collections, and the preparation of original reports summarizing these analyses.
Detailed Description of Course
This course is designed to prepare students to participate in archaeological research projects by, first, exposing them to examples of field and laboratory research by other archaeologists and then having them engage in their own research. They will learn a variety of methods for not only describing archaeological artifacts and other remains, but how to interpret their meaning and what these material remains tell us about the past people who made and used them.
Major topics to be covered in this course include the following:
• The Goals of Archaeological Investigation
• Research Design Development
• Archaeological Survey Methods
• Archaeological Excavation
• Field Photography and Mapping
• Stratigraphic Analysis of Soils
• Recovery of Faunal and Floral Samples
• Recovery of Materials for Dating a Site
Archaeological Laboratory Analysis
• Laboratory Analysis and Interpretation of Stone Artifacts
• Prehistoric Ceramic Artifacts
• Historic Artifacts (ceramics, nails, bottles, etc.)
• Plant and animal remains
Detailed Description of Conduct of Course
This course will utilize a combination of lectures and assigned readings as well as a great deal of hands-on experience to teach students current field and laboratory methods in archaeology. The readings will highlight specific examples of, and requirements for, field and lab research. Students will be required to summarize these readings in written or verbal form, as well as direct discussions of them in class. Students will also apply what they learn in reading and discussion through field and lab exercises. Exercises will include written and hands-on activities that emphasize basic field and laboratory skills (e.g., interpretation of stratigraphy, preparing sketch maps, setting up site grids, collecting metric and non-metric artifact data, etc.).
The RU Archaeology and Biological Anthropology Laboratory currently has collections of several thousand prehistoric lithic (stone) and ceramic (pottery) artifacts, as well as historic artifact collections from several 19th century sites located in the New River and Roanoke River valleys. Students will be required to conduct laboratory analyses of samples of these artifacts. Students will be expected to write one or more research reports based on these analyses. Through these projects, students will learn how to collect, organize, and interpret archaeological data. The best of these research reports will be presented at the RU Undergraduate/Graduate Student Engagement Forum and may lead to student publications in the Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia, Southeastern Archaeology, or other journals.
Goals and Objectives of the Course
Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to participate in archaeological survey and excavation in a professional manner and to utilize various methods for the analysis and interpretation of a variety of artifact classes. The student will also have learned how to design and implement a scientific research project and to produce a professional report on this project.
Student assessment will be based on several criteria. Because of the practical, hands-on emphasis of the course, class attendance and participation are mandatory in ANSC 321 (with reasonable exceptions). Assessment strategies will also include written assignments, including one or more research reports based on the students' analyses of artifacts. Weekly exercises may include a written summary of reading and/or an in-class practicum.
Other Course Information
Review and Approval