Online course in History

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.

  • Duration 2 weeks
  • Weekly study 3 hours
  • Learn Free
  • Extra benefits From $54 Find out more

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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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?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now
    This course started 14 Oct 2019

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

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 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

Mary Lewis

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

Amanda Clarke

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?

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

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