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Material Culture


Admission requirements

Material Studies obtained.


The main aim of the course is twofold: to provide insights into diverse theoretical approaches to the study of material culture and relevant analytical methods, as well as deepen your knowledge about the common procedures used to classify and characterise archaeological finds.
Most importantly, the course seeks to bridge the traditional gap between the practice of recording archaeological objects and the need of anchoring the data gathered within a solid research framework.

The ultimate goal is to illustrate how to exploit and combine the analytical procedures today at our disposal in order to address current issues in archaeology, thus, how to pass from the simple act of processing finds to crafting histories.

Course set-up

  • 6 lectures in which specific research questions will be discussed through the lens of materiality. Lectures will offer a view from European, Mediterranean (and beyond) case studies, addressing macro-themes in material culture studies;

  • 5 hands-on sessions: alternating groups of max. 35 students will gain hands-on experience with the collections available at the Faculty. Practical sessions are instrumental to gather the necessary information to carry out the final assignment, a handbook describing the assemblage of objects specifically prepared for this purpose (The Box Project).

Course objectives

Upon completion of the module students will acquire:

  • Insight in broad theoretical concepts on material culture;

  • Knowledge of widely used methods in analysing material culture;

  • Ability to identify and analyse the most common archaeological finds from excavations and surveys;

  • Learn how to report your analysis on archaeological material in a written report.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals;

  • Assignments.

Course load

  • 6 x 2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 5 x 4 hours of practicals (1 ec);

  • 250 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • 1 written assignment (max. 2,300 words) (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • 1 theoretical exam (open questions) (60%);

  • 1 written assignment (“The Handbook”) based on the Box Project (40%).

Assessment of both the theoretical and practical part will take place after the completion of the course. Students are allowed to retake the theory exam and to re-submit their report in case of a fail. The theory exam and written assignment will be marked separately, but there will be one final result. Grades over 5.0 for the theory exam can be compensated with the grade obtained for the written assignment.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 examination schedule.

Reading list

Selection of papers to be agreed upon by the lecturers.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.


For more information about this course, please contact drs. M. (Martina) Revello Lami.


Compulsory attendance.