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Practical Skills: Archaeobotany - ARC00064I

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  • Department: Archaeology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Lara Gonzalez Carretero
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module focuses on the practical hands-on aspects of archaeobotany from sampling to sorting, identifying, quantifying and reporting on archaeobotanical assemblages from archaeological sites. This module is aimed at those who want to know more about plant remains and/or are likely to encounter archaeobotanical data sets in the course of their research or professional career. Students will be given the necessary practical tools for the identification of macrobotanical remains, with primary focus on seed crops, archaeological remains of food and tuber parenchyma.

Related modules

A directed option - students must pick a Practical Skills module and have a choice of which to take (one in Semester 2)

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 provide a detailed introduction to plant remains and the basis for their preservation in the archaeological record.
  • To introduce students to the necessary skills for basic identification of archaeobotanical remains.
  • To understand the potential and limitations of archaeobotanical remains and how to interpret these in the wider discipline of archaeology.

Module learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the methods used to explore plant remains in the archaeological record
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some of the most commonly recovered archaeological plant remains from Africa and Eurasia.
  • Synthesise observations and research to make assessments of archaeobotanical samples
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify a basic range of seeds and other archaeobotanical remains.
  • Apply the methods and techniques that they have learned to interpret archaeobotanical results

Module content

This module is designed to give students an understanding of key archaeobotanical theory and practice. In the first weeks we will start with an introduction to preservation of plant remains and sampling strategies, in addition to exploring the latest techniques and scientific approaches for archaeobotanical analyses. We will then move on to developing practical skills for the identification of macrobotanical remains with specific focus on seed crops (cereals and legumes) and other species of economic importance from Eurasia and Africa. The following lectures and practicals will be dedicated to understanding specialist archaeobotanical reports, as well as reviewing the principle lines of interpretation of plant remains in the wider archaeological context.


Task Length % of module mark
Archaeobotanical Report
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
Archaeobotanical Report
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative: written feedback from module leaders

Summative: written feedback within the University's turnaround policy

Indicative reading

Wilkinson, K & Stevens, C (2008). Environmental archaeology : approaches, techniques & applications Stroud : Tempus: Rev. ed.: 2008

Marston, Jo., D'Alpoim Guedes, J and Warinner, C(eds.) (2014). Method and theory in paleoethnobotany . Boulder : University Press of Colorado.

Pearsall, D (2015). Paleoethnobotany : a handbook of procedures, 3rd edition. Left Coast Press.

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.