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Online course

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.

Free:

  • Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Archaeology: from Dig to Lab and Beyond

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Why join the course?

Join us at the University of Reading as we chart the progress of an archaeological excavation from dig to lab and beyond on this free online course.

Take a virtual field trip to the Vale of Pewsey

We’ll be showing you around our field school – a month-long excavation at the Vale of Pewsey, which is a relatively untouched site compared to its world-famous neighbours, Stonehenge and Avebury.

The Vale of Pewsey is an archaeological treasure chest and the jewel of its crown is Marden. Built around 2,400 BC, Marden is the largest henge in the country and one of Britain’s most important but least understood prehistoric monuments.

Every object has a tale to tell and we’ll investigate how archaeologists paint a vivid picture of what life was like in Neolithic times through the astounding assortment of discoveries made in this beautiful part of England.

Explore every aspect of archaeology

An archaeological excavation isn’t just turning up with a trowel to dig. Drawing on case studies from our field school, you’ll find out about every aspect of archaeology, from deciding where to dig to the collection, recording and storage of artefacts.

We’ll investigate excavation techniques such as topographic surveying and scientific coring. And through distinctive discoveries at the Vale of Pewsey, we’ll take a closer look at what you can do with an artefact once you’ve found it.

Learn how archaeology can study the dead

One of the most intriguing and eye-opening finds of all is a burial site or grave, which provides fascinating insights into the past. In Week 2, we’ll examine the archaeological methods employed in the study of the dead. What can skeletal remains tell us about where someone lived, their occupation and their health?

Download video: standard or HD

What topics will you cover?

Week 1:

  • What is archaeology?
  • The skills needed to be an archaeologist
  • Planning an excavation
  • How does a dig work?
  • Finding and analysing artefacts

Week 2:

  • Introduction to the medieval period
  • Human bone analysis
  • Being a teenager in medieval England
  • 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

What will you achieve?

  • 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

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

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

Jim Leary

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'.

Mary Lewis

I am a human osteologist (bone specilalist) specilising in the recognition of disease in children

Amanda Clarke

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?

Free:

  • Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • No certificate

Upgraded:

  • Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps)
  • Access to quizzes and assignments
  • A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Find out more

Get extra benefits, upgrade this course. For £39 you’ll get:

Unlimited access

Upgrading will mean you get unlimited access to the course.

  • Take the course at your own pace
  • Refer to the material at any point in future

If you’re taking a course for free you have access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join. If you upgrade the course you have access for as long as the course exists on FutureLearn.

A Certificate of Achievement

Upgrading means you’ll receive a Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course.

  • Prove your success when applying for jobs or courses
  • Celebrate your hard work
  • Display on your Linkedin or CV

To receive a Certificate of Achievement you need to mark 90% of the steps on the course as complete.