• University of Reading

Archaeology: from Dig to Lab and Beyond

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

53,108 enrolled on this course

Archaeology: a human skull is examined in the lab.

Archaeology: from Dig to Lab and Beyond

53,108 enrolled on this course

  • 2 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

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  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours
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Chart the progress of an archaeological excavation from dig to lab and beyond.

We’ll show you around our field school at the Vale of Pewsey, a relatively untouched site compared to its famous neighbour, Stonehenge.

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

One of the most intriguing finds of all is a burial site and you’ll examine the archaeological methods employed in the study of the dead. How can you recreate the life, health and occupation of an individual just from their skeletal remains?

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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds If you aspire at all to want to practise archaeology in the field, these are skills that you can’t learn anywhere else. It’s learning to read the soil beneath your feet. It’s teaching people to use their imagination to really engage with the past. And it marks out the University of Reading Archaeology Department from any other department in the country.

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 seconds We called this course a virtual field school, because we wanted to explain how the different elements of archaeological research connect up from the trowel’s edge, digging in the field, right through to the analysis of material and then its storage and preservation in the long term at the end. The people that use Marden Henge, the people who use the building at Marden Henge, they will have seen Stonehenge in use. They will have probably worshipped there themselves. Everyone was really excited. I was lucky enough to be able to process it. So I did actually use a toothbrush but not as thoroughly as you might with your own teeth. [LAUGHS] I’ve recently completed a large-scale study of teenagers from mediaeval England.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds With Archaeology, you’ll see the people aren’t with us anymore, but we still have to think about that storytelling and how you can build that research around it and make it significant, make it meaningful for people today.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 seconds So do join us on the course, Archaeology: From Dig to Lab and Beyond.

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?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

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 key 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.

I am a human bioarchaeologist (bone specialist) specialising in the recognition of disease in children and adolescents. I am a lecturer at Reading and run an MSc in Professional Human Osteoarchaeology

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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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save

$189.99 for one year

Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$54/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access

Free

Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 19 Feb 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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