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World Archaeology II: Conflict - ARC00061H

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Caitlin Kitchener
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module provides an introduction to the themes of violence and conflict within world archaeology, drawing on case studies from a range of time periods and geographical areas. It ranges from the emergence of violence in our evolutionary past through to historic battlefields and the archaeology of the Cold War. Throughout we will consider the challenges for archaeologists in recognising, interpreting and discussing the nature of conflict in past societies.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2022-23

Module aims

The World Archaeology II Modules seek to expose the students to the diversity of World Archaeology through an in depth review of a range of topics. Students will choose to study topics that interest them.

The specific aims of this option are:

  • To provide a global, case-study based, introduction to conflict in the past.

  • To introduce the means by which such conflict may be recognised in the archaeological record.

  • To explore a number of case studies.

  • To raise awareness of the need for sites of human conflict to be considered in heritage-management terms.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate a broad and comparative knowledge of the archaeology of conflict around the world.

  • Discuss and explain the principal archaeological evidence in study of conflict archaeology, and demonstrate a critical appreciation of the potential biases and problems in the interpretation of the evidence.

  • Evaluate and contextualise different types of archaeological source material related to past conflict.

  • Reflect on skills and experience gained over their degree for the purposes of writing an effective CV

  • Communicate a research idea for a funding application succinctly in a 5-10 minute pitch presentation with a rationale and a clear methodology

Module content

We will start by considering the role of violence and conflict in shaping human societies evaluating contrasting arguments over whether violence is an innate part of being human, or whether it is a pathology related to the emergence of coercive authorities. Each week will focus on a different period, from the Palaeolithic to the Cold War, examining a range of issues including the role of violence in human evolution, the extent of warfare in prehistory, the challenges for archaeologists in recognising and documenting past conflicts, the and the ritualisation of violence through phenomena such as headhunting and human sacrifice.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: The marker will share written feedback with you and you will have the opportunity to ask further questions about how to improve your work before your summative assessment.

Summative: Written feedback sheets will be uploaded to your e:vision account (your personal University of York online services account) within 20 working days of the submission deadline, along with your overall mark for the module. If you have any questions about your mark and/or your written feedback, you will be able to sign up for office hours with the marker.

Indicative reading

Armit, I. 2011. Violence and society in the deep human past. British Journal of Criminology 51.3: 499-517.

Armit, I., Knüsel, C., Robb, J. & Schulting, R. J. 2006. Warfare and violence in prehistoric Europe: an introduction. Journal of Conflict Archaeology 2, 1-11.

Boehm, C. (2000). Conflict and the evolution of social control. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7(1-2), 79-101.

Detailed reading for the module will be available via YorkShare (the University's virtual learning environment). When you have enrolled on a module, you will be able to access the full reading list.

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.