Urgeschichte und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie

Modules for specialization Stone Age Archaeology

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Stone Age Archaeology is one of seven specialization within the program Archaeological Sciences and Human Evolution

Types of MSc Projects

Please note that the below courses and specialisations are not the only areas in which you may do a MSc at the Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology. Our institute contains a range of experts working on all aspects of Stone Age Archaeology (and beyond). Potentially, any such expert may supervise or co­supervise a MSc thesis. An overview of the range of expertise - and with it, a range of possible MSc thesis topics, can be gotten by browsing the staff.
Please note that MSc supervisors need to have a PhD, thus please restrict your browing to the levels of "academic staff" and beyond.

Introductory module:

Stone Age archaeology (ASHE-3/4/5g)

Structure: Introductory lecture and more specialized seminar. Lectures predominantly involve face-to-face learning. The seminar component encompasses taught and interactive elements, including reading and discussion of relevant literature and (written) presentation of specific topics.

Content: This module is the introductory part of the specialization Stone Age Archaeology. The lecture provides an introductory course and diachronic overview of the archaeology of the global Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic. This part includes coverage of research history, basic terminology, find categories, central issues, interpretative frameworks and current research, encompassing topics such as stone tool technology, cultural stratigraphy, behavioral adaptations, social, economic, symbolic and demographic aspects of the bio-cultural evolution of hominins in the Pleistocene and early Holocene. A more specialized seminar chosen by the students from a pool of offered courses provides deeper insights into specific regional, temporal and thematical issues of global Stone Age archaeology from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas.

Outcome: Students learn basic knowledge and terminology of Stone Age archaeology. They understand the different find categories, applied methods and overarching research questions pursued in this field of study. Students will be enabled to critically reflect on the data, methods, theory and interpretations commonly employed in archaeological research of the Stone Age. They can integrate current research into the history and issues of the field and are able to develop and pursue basic research questions of the Stone Age in written and oral presentation.

Principal lecturers: Prof. N. Conard; Dr. Manuel Will

Specialization modules:

Stone Age technology (ASHE-8g)

Structure: Combined lecture/exercise and more specialized additional practical exercises or seminars. The lecture/exercise part involves face-to-face learning with dedicated practical parts. The seminar and/or practical component encompasses taught and interactive elements, group learning, hands-on material work, potentially including reading and discussion of relevant literature and presentation of specific topics or own results from practical studies.

Content: This module provides an in-depth overview on lithic and organic material culture of the global Stone Age with a focus on practical courses and analytical methods. The courses are partly or dominantly practical in nature and focus on methodological issues in Stone Age technology. Courses of the module focus on the application of standard and new methods, including experimental archaeology, 3D scanning, use-wear and residue studies (i.e. material culture lab). Proper handling of attendant equipment (microscopes, 3D scanner) will also be part of this module. An emphasis of the modules lies on stone tools as they are the most durable and frequent artefact category of the Stone Age. A combined lecture/exercise covers the various analytical methods and theoretical approaches towards studying lithic technology of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic including hands-on work with actual stone tool assemblages. Students can choose among a number of additional practical exercises or seminars that also examine the nature and methods of organic technology of the Stone Age, such as bone, antler, ivory or plant materials (e.g. wood), or experimental archaeology, use-wear and residue studies of lithic and organic technology.

Outcome: Students acquire advanced and practical knowledge of lithic and organic material culture of the Stone Age. They understand the different find categories, relevant analytical methods for each and can apply these methods to material culture. Students will be enabled to critically reflect on the potentials and limits of different analytical methods and theoretical approaches for studying technology in the Stone Age and convey this information in oral form. They can conduct some independent research on Stone Age material culture and present this study in a talk.

Principal lecturers: Dr. Flavia Venditti, Dr. Manuel Will, Dr. Gregor Bader, Dr. Yvonne Tafelmaier, Dr. Andreas Taller, Dr. Gudio Bataille, Dr. Sibylle Wolf

Cultural evolution (ASHE-9g)

Structure: Introductory lecture and more specialized seminar(s). Lectures predominantly involve face-to-face learning with attendant written assignments (which need to get a passing grade for credits). The seminar component encompasses taught and interactive elements, including reading and discussion of relevant literature and student-led presentation of specific topics (written and/or in person, depending on chosen course).

Content: The lecture provides an introductory course and thematic overview of the evolution of culture and cognition, especially in primates and hominins and modern humans. This part includes coverage of basic terminology, central issues, analytical methods, interpretative frameworks and current research, encompassing topics such as cultural transmission, social learning mechanisms and cognitive capacities in an cross-species framework. A more specialized, optional seminar provides a closer and “bottom-up” look on the evolution of culture in animals and humans via pre-modern hominins. As alternative option to this seminar, students can choose from a pool of varying courses at the University but which must cover specific spatio-temporal scales and thematic issues of cultural evolution and cognition in hominins of the Stone Age in the Pleistocene and early Holocene.

Outcome: Students learn basic knowledge and terminology of cultural evolution and cultural cognition. They get to understand the different topics, analytical methods and overarching research questions pursued in this field of study. Students will be enabled to critically reflect on the data, methods, theory and interpretations commonly employed in evolutionary studies of culture and cognition in hominins and other animals. They will be able to integrate current research into the history and issues of the field and will be able to develop and independently pursue advanced research questions of cultural evolution and cognition in written (and oral, depending on specifics of optional course chosen) presentation.

Principal lecturers: Dr. Claudio Tennie, PD Dr. Miriam Haidle

Stone Age economics (ASHE-10g)

Structure: Overview lecture/seminar and more specialized seminar. The overview lecture/seminar predominantly involves face-to-face learning. The seminar part encompasses taught but mostly interactive elements, including reading and discussion of relevant literature and (written) presentation of specific topics.

Content: Combined taught courses and seminars on raw material economy, landuse strategies, technological organization, mobility and subsistence patterns (e.g. hunting and gathering; agriculture and domestication) in the Stone Age. The lecture/seminar component provides an overview on diachronic changes and current issues in various topics of Stone Age economics. Basic terminology, research history, analytical methods, theoretical approaches (e.g. behavioral ecology; organization of technology) and case studies are covered with a focus on Eurasia and Africa. Different temporal perspectives, geographical areas and topics are covered by a more specialized seminar with a potential practical component. Seminars/exercises from the specialization Zooarchaeology and Archaebotany can also be chosen for this seminar part of this module.

Outcome: Students learn advanced knowledge of various aspects of Stone Age economics. They understand different economic aspects of Stone Age societies and overarching research questions pursued in this field of study. Students will be enabled to critically reflect on the data, methods, theory and interpretations commonly employed in archaeological research of Stone Age economics. They can integrate current research into the history and issues of the field and are able to develop and independently pursue advanced research questions of the Stone Age in written and oral presentation.

Principal lecturers: Prof. Harald Floss, Prof. Michael Bolus, Dr. Manuel Will, Dr. Gregor Bader

Stone Age society and ideology (ASHE-11g)

Structure: Introductory lecture and more specialized seminar or practical exercise. Lectures predominantly involve face-to-face learning. The seminar component encompasses taught and interactive elements, including reading and discussion of relevant literature and presentation of specific topics. The practical exercise focuses on hands-on work with material culture and independent study.

Content: Advanced course on the organization of Stone Age societies and aspects of prehistoric ideology. The lecture component provides an overview on empirical, theoretical and methodical aspects in various topics of Stone Age society and ideology. Basic terminology, research history, analytical methods, theoretical approaches and case studies are covered with a focus on Paleolithic Eurasia and Africa. Covered topics include demography, symbolism, art, religion, ornamentation and music, among others. Students can choose between either a more specialized seminar (e.g. Paleolithic art) or a practical exercise (e.g. experimental archaeology) that deal with specific aspects and spatio-temporal scales of these topics that might involve attendant excursions to relevant sites and museums.

Outcome: Students learn advanced knowledge of various aspects of Stone Age societies and ideology. They understand different socio-cultural, ideological and demographic aspects of Stone Age societies and overarching research questions pursued in this field of study. Students will be enabled to critically reflect on the data, methods, theory and interpretations commonly employed in archaeological research of this field of study. They can integrate current research into the history and issues of the field and are able to develop and independently pursue advanced research questions of the Stone Age in oral presentation.

Principal lecturers: Prof. Nicholas Conard, Prof. Harald Floss, Dr. Sibylle Wolf, Dr. Flavia Venditti, Dr. Keiko Kitagawa