Archaeology: Method and Theory

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreHRM2AM1044

Semester and Year Offered: Semester 1, AY 2021-22

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Ravindra Kumar

Email of course coordinator: rkumar[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Brief description of course

Thestudy on methods and theory in archaeology emphasizesmulti-disciplinary researches in archaeology backed with field-work and latest scientificmethodology.The course exploresin what way the idea of ‘collecting’slowly but steadily transformed in to well organized discipline of Archaeology in time and space. In the beginning, with noclear-cut concept,people acquired things under their possession forthe sake of status symbol, no matter by what means—looting, grabbing, destroying the earlier tangible remains, etc.—in absence of any protection, preservation and safety laws. But against all odds, the discipline progressed and many concepts theorized. From simple collectingit grew in to a well-definedcurriculum. With the development of the discipline it also saw steady progress towards the inclusion of modern scientific aids to understand nature and material of human edifices with incorporation of best scientific temperament. All these aspects will be utilized to describe and interpret archaeological data to explain past human settlements and their spatial analysis in the context of their social, economic and religious life.

Course objectives

  • Obtain clear-cut idea of archaeology with basic nomenclature of terms and concepts; the growth of discipline in the global and Indian context to understand and interpret the past life ways of habitats of by gone age and fulfilling the aims and objectives of the subject matter.
  • Investigate the past human activities by applying methods and procedures, through the use of scientific techniques.
  • Interpret the gathered data by ordering them differently and also using latest modern scientific aids.
  • Understand State and Central Government Laws and Regulations in relation to archaeological sites, monuments and antiquities. How to salvage heritage under threat and writing reports.
  • Analyze ceramics and tools by drawing to understand technique and their utility.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion the students will be able to:

  • Understand aims and objectives of archaeology and basic concepts involved.
  • Evaluate the beginning of archaeology as discipline with historical perspectives.
  • Gain knowledge about theories in archaeology, issues, basic traits and views.
  • Create awareness towards understanding different probing—chance discovery or planned surveys involving modern scientific aids and maps.
  • Getting acquainted about methods of archaeological excavations and recording the finds and evidences.
  • Order and analyse the explored and excavated data.
  • Evaluate the gathered data and interpret it using variety of models and paradigms to reconstruct the past life ways.
  • Understand laws and regulations for the safeguard of past human edifices.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Module 1

Aims and objectives of archaeology. Archaeology as defined by archaeologists. How the archaeology began and its further developments in global and Indian contexts with historical perspective? What are the basic concepts in archaeology?Understanding towards the new archaeology and its basic traits.

Reading list for this module:

  • Chakrabarty, Dilip K. The Development of Archaeology in the Indian Subcontinent, World Archaeology, Vol.13, No. 3. 1982
  • Fagan, Brian M and Nadia Durrani: Archaeology: an Introduction.Routledge 13thEdn. 2021
  • Fagan, Brian. M: Eyewitness to Discovery, NewYork, 1996.
  • Hole, Frank Hole: Prehistoric Archaeology: A brief introduction, 1977
  • Trigger, Bruce G. Beyond History: The Methods of Prehistory, Holt (New York, NY), 1968 (Weeks I & II)

Module 2

Understanding the avenues of discoveries — physical surveys, maps, Aerial photographs, accidental discoveries and other methods. In what ways the human activity of the past is excavated—vertical and horizontal excavation. How the excavated remains are recorded by understanding the stratigraphy. The concept of relative and absolute dating and in what ways it helps to date the archaeological edifices.

Reading list for this module:

  • Hester, T.R.Field methods in Archaeology, California, 1975.
  • Michels, Jaseph W. Dating Methods in Archaeology. 1973
  • Srivastava, K.M. New Era of Indian Archaeology. Cosmo, New Delhi. 1982 (Weeks III, IV & V)

Module 3

How and in what ways the archaeological evidences/artifacts are managed and how they are ordered. How the gathered data is evaluated and interpreted by using different models and paradigms.The role of settlement archaeology and spatial analysis towards understanding the past human habitations.Reconstruction of the past life ways ofhabitats, by studying and analyzing the subsistence economy and social and religious life.Assignments for assessment.

Reading list for this module:

  • Trigger, Bruce G. Time and Traditions: Essays in Archaeological Interpretation, 1978.
  • Singh, Shivaji. Models, Paradigms and the New Archaeology. 1985 (Weeks VI, VII & VIII)

Module 4

The outline features and main components for the writing of archaeological reports. Understanding the State and Central Government Laws and Regulations in the matters of archaeological sites, monuments, antiquities, etc.The importance of salvage archaeology and resource management.

Reading list for this module:

  • Grinsell, V. Leslie.The Preparation of Archaeological Report. 1974
  • Sarkar, H. Museums and Protection of Monuments and Antiquities in India. 1981
  • Wendrof, Fred. A Guide to Salvage Archaeology.Museum of New Mexico Press. 1962. (Weeks IX, & X)

Module 5

Identification and mapping of archaeological sites.Drawing based analysis of Pottery. Drawing based analysis of Tools.Mapping and drawing based data on pottery and tools and their interpretations. Two to three weeks field training/study. Assessment of assignments.

Reading list for this module:

  • Lynne Sebastian, William D. Lipe. Archaeology & Cultural Resource Management: vision for future. 2010. (Weeks XI, XII, XIII &XIV )

Assessment Details with weights:

S. No.


Period of Assignment



Study based test

Week VI



Topic based project work/Field work based project

Week VIII - XI




Week XII



End Semester Exam

As per School Examination Calendar


Additional References:

  • Murray, Tim. Time and Archaeology, NewYork , 1999.
  • Drewett, L.P. Field Archaeology- An Introduction, London,1999.
  • Wheeler, M.Archaeology from the Earth, London, 1956.
  • Drennan D. R. Statistics for Archaeologist-A commonsense approach, NewYork, 1996.
  • Dorrell, G.P.Photography in Archaeology and Conservation, London, 1994.
  • Chakrabarti, D.K.Theoretical Issues in Indian Archaeology, New Delhi,1988.
  • Barker, Philip. Techniques of Archaeological Excavation. NewYork, 1998.
  • Rao, S.R.New Frontiers of Archaeology.Mumbai, 1994.
  • Don Brothwell&Eric Higgs.Science in Archaeology, London, 1969.
  • Sarma, I.K.Science of Archaeology in India, Delhi, 2000.
  • Tilley, C. &Shanks, M.Re-Constructing Archaeology-Theory and Practice.London. 1992.
  • Renfrew, C.&Bahn, P.Archaeology – Theories Methods and Practice, London, 1998.
  • Renfrew, C.Theory and Explanation in Archaeology, London,1998.
  • Deetz, J. Invitation to Archaeology. NewYork. 1967.
  • Daniel, Glyn. The Origins and Growth of Archaeology. London. 1967.
  • Clarke, D.L.Analytical Archaeology, London, 1978.
  • Courbin, Paul. What is Archaeology, London, 1988.
  •  Adkins, Roy & Lesley. An Introduction to Archaeology, London, 1989.
  • Bruce G. Trigger. A History of Archaeological Thought. 2ndedn. Cambridge. CUP. 2006.
  • Renfrew, C. &Paul Bahn, eds. Archaeology: The Key Concepts. London: Routledge, 2005.