• University of Reading

Archaeology: From Dig to Lab and Beyond

Gain an introduction to studying archaeology, exploring exciting discoveries in the Vale of Pewsey, near Stonehenge and Avebury.

45,307 enrolled on this course

Archaeology: From Dig to Lab and Beyond
  • Duration2 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours

Become an archaeologist for the day and join an excavation from dig to lab

Fascinated by archaeology and want to uncover historical artefacts? On this 2-week archaeology course, we’ll show you around our field school at the Vale of Pewsey, a relatively untouched site compared to its famous neighbour, Stonehenge.

You’ll discover what it takes to become an archaeologist and learn about why archaeology is still important today.

Take part in an archaeological excavation

An archaeological excavation is more than just digging with a trowel. You’ll learn about the planning process of an excavation and investigate how and where to dig. Then you’ll find out how to collect, record and store precious finds and take a closer look at what you can learn from a discovery once you’ve found it.

Discover treasures and artefacts from the Vale of Pewsey

Venture into the past and learn about the history of the Vale of Pewsey. You’ll learn about what life was like in the Neolithic period and discover Neolithic practices.

After learning about excavation techniques at our field school, you’ll get the chance to study archaeological treasures containing an assortment of objects from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Roman periods.

Learn how human bones can reveal history

One of the most intriguing finds at the Vale of Pewsey is a burial site. You’ll get the opportunity to analyse skeletons in order to identify information about individuals and learn about medieval life through the study of human bones.

You’ll also gain an introduction to stable isotope analysis, whereby archaeologists measure the ratio of isotopes in bones to discover where they came from.

Finally, you’ll investigate the role of museums in archaeology and ask questions about whether it is ethical to store human remains in a museum.

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What topics will you cover?

Week 1:

  • The transferable skills needed to be an archaeologist
  • Introduction to the Neolithic period
  • Planning an excavation
  • How does a dig work?
  • Storing, handling, recording and transporting artefacts

Week 2:

  • Introduction to the medieval period
  • Human bone analysis
  • Archaeological science: what can isotopes in bone tell us?
  • Museums: the ethics of storage and display

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Explain how an archaeological dig works, from the planning stages, through excavation, to the analysis and storage of artefacts
  • Summarise the basic characteristics of all archaeological periods from the Mesolithic to the post-medieval period (c.8000 BC–AD 1900)
  • Describe the main ways in which archaeologists analyse human skeletons
  • Debate some of the key issues facing archaeology today
  • Understand the transferable skills you will acquire from studying archaeology

Who is the course for?

No prior experience of archaeology is needed. This course is designed for anyone interested in studying an archaeology degree at university. However, anyone with an enthusiastic interest in archaeology is very welcome to join us too.

Who will you learn with?

Duncan Garrow teaches and researches later European prehistory (with a particular focus on Britain) and archaeological theory at the University of Reading.

Jim is the Director of the Reading Archaeology Field School, which is based in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire. His recent book is 'The Remembered Land. Surviving sea-level rise after the last Ice Age'.

I am a human osteologist (bone specialist) specialising in the recognition of disease in children

I am a field archaeologist who has worked on excavations of all periods, all over the world. I specialise in the teaching of archaeological field techniques, and organising large excavation projects.

Who developed the course?

University of Reading

The University of Reading has a reputation for excellence in teaching, research and enterprise.

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