Palaeobotany (ARCM411)

StaffProfessor Jose Iriarte - Convenor
Credit Value15
ECTS Value7.50
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module will outline the theory and practice of archaeobotany, giving basic practical competence in the techniques and a practical appreciation of observation, recording and interpretation issues. Students will attain basic competence in the identification and recording of plant remains with particular emphasis will be given to plants of economic and ecological importance. Students will gain an understanding of how to identify, count, and statistically manipulate such data. By the end of the module, students will be acquainted with how plant assemblages can be interpreted to give us a fuller picture of past economies and human-environment interactions in different archaeological periods.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Critically understand the key theoretical concepts of archaeobotany
  • 2. Use terms and conventions commonly employed in archaeobotany
  • 3. Demonstrate competence in the identification of plant remains from key crops and its wild relatives
  • 4. Prepare and interpret primary archaeobotanical data
  • 5. Critically appreciate the ways in which plant assemblages can tell us about past economies and environment in different archaeological periods

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 6. Show initiative in interpreting a variety of information forms
  • 7. Assimilate/manage numerical and graphical data
  • 8. Deploy data from technical reports

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 9. Manage data and display it graphically
  • 10. Acquire a range of observational and analytical skills which are applicable in the wider world
  • 11. Ask pertinent questions, contribute to group discussions, and co-operate with and learn from peers

Syllabus plan

Introduction to archaeobotany, basics of plant anatomy, and different classes of plant remains Plant preservation, sampling, and recovery techniques Plant macrofossils / Practical: Seed identification Phytolith analysis/ Practical: Phytolith morphology I: Grasses Quantification of plant remains, basic descriptive statistics, and presentation of results/ Practical: Phytolith morphology II: Wood, fruits, and seed phytoliths The process of plant domestication / Practical: Starch grain analysis Case studies in plant domestication: Maize domestication Case studies in plant domestication: Plant domestication in Southwest Asia Pollen analysis and environmental reconstruction/ Practical: Pollen analysis Reading week Integrating different classes of archaeobotanical data

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 activities30Practical sessions with lecture and discussion elements (10 x 3hrs)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2Group tutorials related to assessment tasks (2 x 1hr)
Guided independent study118Independent study using computer aided learning and reference resources regarding plant identification

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Project analysing archaeobotanical data2000 words 1-9written

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
Project 1502000 words 1-9written
Project 2502000 words1-9written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Project 1project 1, 2000 words1-9referred/deferred period
Project 2project 2, 2000 words1-9referred/deferred period

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Key words search

rchaeology, Archaeobotany