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Archaeology: Bioarchaeology and Material Culture Studies

This MSc specialisation offers 3 foci, see the tabs below:

  • Palaeoecology
  • Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology
  • Material Culture Studies

Palaeoecology

Palaeoecology focuses on a variety of palaeo-zoological and palaeo-botanical topics, ranging in age from the Palaeolithic to the historical periods. The programme revolves around palaeo-environmental or palaeo-economical questions as well as evolutionary aspects of faunal or floral communities and the evolution of species.

In the department’s specialised laboratories, small and large mammals are studied, as well as pollen and plant macro remains. Apart from practical work, relevant excursions and fieldwork, a large part of the programme is intended for writing the thesis. In this thesis, the results of practical investigations are presented, combined with literature studies. During the programme, you will be confronted with the application of aDNA and isotope studies in the field of palaeo-zoological and palaeo-botanical research. The regular programme is supplemented with lectures by guest speakers, including international speakers.

Please note: if you want to take this MSc as a second focus, you will be invited for a compulsory advisory interview before the start of the programme.

Staff:
Prof. dr. Thijs van Kolfschoten
Dr. Mike Field

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

General part

Dating methods 5
Fieldwork / Internship 5
Master thesis archaeology 20
Master thesis tutorial 0

Focus 1: Palaeoecology

Palaeoecology and Quaternary stratigraphy: A basic introduction 5
Current issues in Quaternary research 5

Focus 2

Focus 2 10

Laboratory work

Laboratory work 5

Elective

Elective course 5

Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology

This focus provides you with a detailed background of the methods used to study human bones and teeth in physical anthropology and archaeology. It offers a solid foundation in skeletal and dental anatomy, as well as an understanding of the histology of skeletal tissues, morphological variations, and changes that come with age and/or sex.
The programme also considers diseases that can be diagnosed from bones and teeth and the palaeo-epidemiological insights which can be drawn from them.

Furthermore, you are introduced to the methods and standards associated with ancient DNA and isotope analysis. This focus teaches procedures for the excavation of skeletonised human remains along with the standards used for recording them. In addition, special attention is paid to taphonomic changes that can take place within the grave context. If possible, the osteological laboratory will organise its own excavation.

Please note: if you want to take this MSc as a second focus, you will be invited for a compulsory advisory interview before the start of the programme.

Staff:
Dr. Andrea Waters-Rist
Dr. Menno Hoogland

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

General part

Dating methods 5
Fieldwork / Internship 5
Master thesis archaeology 20
Master thesis tutorial 0

Focus 1: Human Osteology and Funerary Archaeology

Advanced human osteology 5
Research methods in mortuary archaeology 5

Focus 2

Focus 2 10

Laboratory work

Laboratory work 5

Elective

Elective course 5

Material Culture Studies

The MSc focus Material Culture Studies centres on the methods and techniques used to study the biographies of portable artefacts made of stone, ceramics, bone, antler, shell, coral, metal or glass.
The life history of objects will be studied from a perspective of sourcing the raw material, reconstructing the production techniques, assessing the former use, and, lastly, examining the depositional context. Laboratory studies are central in this programme. There is a close cooperation with Material Science of the Technical University Delft in the form of the Centre of Art and Archaeological Sciences.

In order to be admitted to the MSc programme Material Culture Studies you must be acquainted with the following texts which will be tested by means of an exam taking place at the end of September:

  • Hodges, H. 1964 (or later reprints). Artifacts. An Introduction to Early Materials and Technology. London.
  • Miller, H.M.L. 2009. Archaeological Approaches to Technology. Walnut Creek, CA.
  • Pollard, M., C. Batt, B. Stern & S.M.M. Young 2007. Analytical Chemistry in Archaeology, part III, Some Basic Chemistry for Archaeologists, Cambridge, pp. 215-320.

Please note: if you want to take this MSc as a second focus, you may be invited for a compulsory advisory interview before the start of the programme.

Staff:
Prof. dr. Annelou van Gijn
Dr. Dennis Braekmans
Prof. dr. Joris Dik (CAAS, Delft Technical University)

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

General part

Dating methods 5
Fieldwork / Internship 5
Master thesis archaeology 20
Master thesis tutorial 0

Focus 1: Material Culture Studies

Reconstructing artefact biographies 5
Techniques of artefact analysis 5

Focus 2

Focus 2 10

Laboratory work

Laboratory work 5

Elective

Elective course 5