Archaeometallurgy (ARC3507)

StaffDr Gillian Juleff - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value15
NQF Level3
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module will outline the discovery and development of metallurgy from the earliest use of native metals and the impact of metallurgy on cultural dynamics. Important technological developments in both ferrous and non-ferrous will be highlighted. The focus of the module will be on the metallurgical process – including ore mining, smelting, refining and object manufacture – and evidence for technological processes in the archaeological record. Practical exercises in assessing debris from early metalworking processes will be conducted and students will examine the microstructures of ancient metal artefacts.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Understand and critically appreciate the role of metallurgy in cultural development in ancient and more recent history.
  • 2. Understand the development of metallurgy from its origins in the Western Asia and be critically aware of the relevant sources.
  • 3. Know the complexities of the technological processes involved in metal production.
  • 4. Critically analyse the types of datasets commonly encountered in archaeometallurgy.
  • 5. Be critically aware of analytical and interpretative techniques for the assessment of archaeometallurgical evidence.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Research a topic guided by a reading list and using individual initiative extensively.
  • 7. Understand and critically evaluate archaeological information from a wide range of sources .
  • 8. Organise complex information synthetically to address key thematic issues.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Synthesise and share a wide range of information with peers, giving and receiving constructive criticism.
  • 10. Self-reflect on progress within a co-operative group environment.
  • 11. Contribute to group discussions and ask pertinent and critically aware questions.
  • 12. Develop competence in word processing and report presentation appropriate to Level 3.

Syllabus plan

Origins of metallurgy
The metallurgical process: ore to artefact 
Copper and bronze
Iron and steel
Ores and mining: techniques and archaeological evidence
Pioneering metallurgy: major events in the development of metallurgy
Metallurgy in the archaeological record: furnaces, smelting, crucibles, refining, forging and casting
Working histories: analysis of artefacts and waste (practical)
Experimental and ethnometallurgy

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 Activities20Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities5Seminars/demonstrations
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2Essay tutorials
Guided independent study123Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Formative group assignments - preparation of revision notes on chosen topic for peer disseminationmax 500 words x 39,10,12verbal and peer discussion

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
Written assignment from a choice of titles402000 words1-8, 12written
In class group quiz20one hour7-11mark
Exam401.5 hours1-4written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Written assignment from a choice of titles2000 word essay1-8, 12Referred/deferred period
In class group quiz1500 word essay7-11Referred/deferred period
Examexam1-4Referred/deferred period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Craddock, P.T., 1995. Early metal mining and production, Edinburgh University Press.
Craddock, P.T. and J. Lang (eds), 2003. Mining and Metal Production through the ages, The British Museum Press.
Hodges, H., 1989. Artifacts, Duckworth, London.
Tylecote, R.F., 1992. A history of metallurgy (2nd edition), The Insitute of Metals, London.
Tylecote, R.F., 1990. The prehistory of metallurgy in the British Isles, The Institute of Metals, London.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module materials on ELE

Indicative learning resources - Other resources is the web page of the Historical Metallurgy Society and has useful links to other web sites. 
Historical Metallurgy
Journal of Archaeological Science

Available as distance learning?


Last revision date