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Admission requirements

  • Bioarchaeology (or equivalent level) obtained;

  • This is a seminar with a limited number of participants (20 students), for Archaeology students exclusively;

  • BA3 students who want to take this course: please contact the Administration Office. You can only be admitted if there are spots left, BA2 students will have priority.


Archaeo-and palaeobotanical research requires the ability to pick fossils from residues, spot pollen grains or spores on a slide, or recognise wood.
Once fossils are found then their morphological features can lead to identification. This practical concentrates on these elements using two types of microscopes to achieve identification of fossils.

Course objectives

  • Ability to use high and low power microscopes;

  • Ability to differentiate fossils from sediment matrix;

  • Ability to observe and describe morphological features used to make an accurate identification;

  • To learn relevant terminology related to morphological features of different types of fossil;

  • To become familiar with six pollen/spore types;

  • To become confident with thinking in three dimensions when examining pollen/spores;

  • To become familiar with the internal anatomy of wood (particularly in cross-section);

  • The ability to differentiate coniferous from deciduous wood;

  • To examine and identify plant macrofossils from three archeological contexts (grain store, cess pit, and lake margin);

  • Ability to write a botanical report.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Report of four pages, composed of annotated sketches of the material examined, some context of the site and the depositional environment the fossils can be from, and some thoughts on how the fossil identifications can lead to answering a range of archaeological research questions (60%);

  • Practical attendance (40%).

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

The report will be submitted two weeks after the end of the practical.

Reading list

To be handed out during class, and will be relevant to the site investigated.


Registration start dates for the BA2 seminars differ from the registration dates of the regular courses.

Registration will take place with the use of forms. These will be e-mailed by the study advisers to all BA2 students and pre-master students at the beginning of March 2024.

The Administration Office will register all Archaeology BA2 students in uSis for their seminar exams. However, confirmation of these exams in MyStudymap is mandatory. No confirmation = no participation!


For more information about this course, please contact dr. M.H. (Mike) Field.


Compulsory attendance.