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Practical Skills: Artefact Analysis - ARC00001I

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Steve Ashby
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module summary

This module aims to provide an exciting introduction to the world of artefacts or ‘small finds’ analysis. Over the term, you will learn some of the key skills in describing, recording, identifying, and interpreting objects.

Artefact identification is an important ability for any archaeologist to have, and there is a growing need for specialist expertise, while training in detailed observation and precise measurement/recording is a highly transferable skill.

Related modules

A directed option - students must pick a Practical Skills module and have a choice of which to take (one in Semester 1)

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

The Practical Skills modules seek to introduce you to a range of skills in various diverse areas of archaeological practice and are designed to allow you to gain experience in a 'hands-on' manner.

This specific module aims to:

  • Introduce key concepts and techniques in the recording, identification, and interpretation of archaeological artefacts
  • Empower students to discuss different archaeological materials with confidence and to identify appropriate forms of analysis
  • To introduce students to the potential and limitations of artefact analyses within archaeology.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able:

  • Demonstrate an awareness of how to observe, measure, research, and record to a professional standard, the key features of an artefact previously unknown to them
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how to Identify and date a wide range of commonly encountered archaeological objects from across time and space.
  • Apply the methods and techniques they have learned to identify different artefact types and interpret them

Module content

Using archaeological materials, reproduction objects, published reports and online resources, you will become familiar with a range of artefacts, and with the process of recording. We will look at objects of different materials (e.g. bone, stone, glass, iron, copper alloy, leather) and types (e.g. jewellery, weapons, coins), from different time periods and places (prehistoric, Roman, medieval and later). By the end of the module, you will be familiar with a wide range of objects from across time and space, but more importantly, you will have the skills necessary to begin to research any unidentified object that you come across.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will work week by week towards their summative assessment during their activities in class.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: written feedback from module leaders

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

Caple, C. 2006. Objects: reluctant witnesses to the past. London: Routledge.

Finds Research Group 1999, 2008. Datasheets Vols I and II. York: Finds Research Group.

Leahy, K. 2018. Finds Identified: Portable Antiquities Scheme. Greenlight Publishing.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.