North American Prehistory: A Survey (ARC2111)

StaffProfessor Bruce Bradley - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.5
NQF Level5
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module will include discussion of social and political change from early settled villages through the emergence of complex societies, It will also evaluate the role of ceremonialism within these societies. The module explores different interpretations of cultural change leading to modern Native Americans living in the region today.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Know the key features of cultural history and development in prehistoric North America and the range of archaeological theoretical and interpretative perspectives
  • 2. Understand the character and complexity of Native American societies, lifestyles, and social and political organisations
  • 3. assess the kinds of datasets commonly encountered in North American and
  • 4. be aware of the different scales of social and political organisation and how they are expressed in the archaeological record.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. ability to research a topic guided by a reading list, and to understand and interpret archaeological information from a range of sources
  • 6. ability to organise such information synthetically in order to addresses key thematic issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. self-reflect on progress within a co-operative group environment
  • 8. learn from peers, both giving and receiving constructive criticism

Syllabus plan

North American physical geography

Paleo-Indian and New World peopling

Archaic hunter-gatherers,

Early Formative cultures, emerging complexity,

Southwestern geography and environments,

Clovis hunters,

Desert Archaic, early agriculture,

Hohokam and irrigation agriculture,

Pueblo farmers, complexity and the Chaco System,

Communialization and devolution, the descendant societies.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching methods189 x 2 hr lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching methods42 x 2 hour seminar
Scheduled learning and teaching methods1essay tutorial
Guided independent study127including reading, research, preparation for seminars and assessments

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay402000 words1-8Written feedback and essay tutorial
Exam601 hour exam1-6Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-8Refer/Defer period
ExamExam1-6Refer/Defer period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Cordell, L., 1984 Prehistory of the Southwest. (SAR)

Crown, P., and J. Judge, 1991 Chaco and the Hohokam: Prehistoric Regional Systems in the American

Southwest. (SAR)

Dixon, E., 2000 Bones, Boats, and Bison : Archaeology and the first Colonisation of North America. (New

Mexico Press)

Fagan, B., 1991 Ancient North America The Archaeology of a Continent. (Thames and Hudson)

Reid, J., and D. Doyel. 1986 Emil W. Haury’s Prehistory of the American Southwest. (University of Arizona


Rogers, J., and B. Smith, 1995 Mississippian Communities and Households. (University of Alabama


Thomas, D., 2000 Exploring Native North America. (Oxford University Press)

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date

March 2012

Key words search

Prehistory, North America