Course syllabus







Anthro 200                                Understanding the Past                             Semester 1, 2018



Professor Thegn Ladefoged (

Office: HSB 716

Office hours: Thursday 10:00 AM - 11:00AM or by appointment

Phone: (09) 373-7599 ext. 88569



Sarah Bradley (

Office: Room 650, Level 6, Human Sciences Building, with the exception of week 6 when it is Room 402, Level 4, Human Sciences Building. 

Office hours: Tuesday 2 -3 or by appointment



Tuesday, 12:00PM - 2:00PM, 801-209 (Law School Building, Room 209)



Absolutely, positively, mandatory. One hour per week; see Student Services Online for times.


The course:

This course is a survey of key methods and theories used to analyse and understand the human past. It includes an examination of current concepts in archaeological research and their place in the development of archaeological thought. The course is illustrated by examples taken from around the world with an emphasis on the Pacific, and it includes an introductory laboratory component and a consideration of heritage management within the context of New Zealand.

In addition to learning about the fascinating topic of archaeology, students will learn a number of practical skills including the ability to critically assess texts, quantitatively analyse data, synthesize and interpret results, and written and oral communication.



Reading Quizzes (10% total)               Weekly beginning March 5th

Stratigraphy Exercise (15%)                DUE Monday 26th of March (Week 5)

Midterm Test (30%)                             17th of April, in lecture (Week 6)

Final Exam (45%)                                 TBD



Students will take short READING QUIZZES at the beginning of lectures in weeks 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. Each quiz will be a series of questions that will be easily answered if you have done the weekly readings before the lecture. We will discuss the quizzes in class, and students will be marked on their top 8 quizzes (worth 1.25% each) for the semester. If you are late to class or miss a quiz it cannot be made up without a medical certificate.


The STRATIGRAPHY EXERCISE will be handed out and discussed in tutorials during week 1. The assignment is due on Monday 26th of March (Week 5) by 5:00PM.  Please upload your text to and make a copy of your profile drawing before turning it in at the Arts Student Centre, Level 4 HSB, in the Anthropology drop box.


NOTE: If there are medical reasons for an assignment being late you must have a medical certificate and submit it to the lecturer (not the tutor). Without a certificate late assignments will be penalized 1% of their worth per day, and will not be marked after 5 days.


The TEST and EXAM are cumulative, and will cover material presented in lectures, readings, and tutorials.  The test and exam may consist of essay questions, short answer questions, true and false, and multiple choice questions.  Make-up tests will only be administered to students with a valid medical certificate.



Tutorials are held eleven times throughout the semester, beginning in the second week of lectures. You must attend ALL TUTORIALS as important information will be presented that you will be tested on and/or will be assessed on.  If you cannot come to the tutorials you should not enrol in the course.



The readings provide additional information and examples that complement the lectures and tutorials. The text for the course is the seventh edition of Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn (2016).  Additional readings have been assigned.  The text can be purchased at the bookstore, is available as an ebook, and copies are in the short-loan library. The online resources for the book are available at The articles are available via UoA Library E-Journals. It is expected that you will do all of the assigned readings, as you will be tested on this material regardless of whether or not it is covered in the lectures or tutorials.


Lecture, Reading, and Tutorial Schedule


WEEK 1          

27 Feb.            Course introduction; Why do archaeology? Scientific and pseudo-archaeology.


Tutorial:           NO TUTORIAL



6 March          Early theoretical approaches


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapters 1 & 12

Tutorial:          Stratigraphy exercise



13 March         Modern archaeology


  • Hegmon, M. (2003) “Setting theoretical egos aside: issues and theory in North American Archaeology”. American Antiquity 68(2):213-243. (Available via UoA Library E-Journals).
  • Kintigh, K. W. et al. (2014) “Grand Challenges for Archaeology”. American Antiquity 79(1):5-24. (Available via UoA Library E-Journals).
  • Smith, M.E. (2017) Social science and archaeological enquiry. Antiquity91(356): 520–528. (Available via UoA Library E-Journals).

Tutorial:           Archaeological theory



20 March         The nature of archaeological data; interpreting archaeological data; Ethnoarchaeology and analogy


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapters 2 & 13

Tutorial:           Archaeological data


WEEK 5        

27 March          Excavation and survey; Dating;


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapter 3 & 4

Tutorial:           Mid-term test revision



17 April           MID-TERM TEST

Tutorial:           Survey toys



24 April              Artefact classification and analysis.


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapter 8

Tutorial:          Lab analysis (pottery tutorial)

  • Wednesday 25 April tutorial rescheduled to Tuesday 24 April at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm.
  • Thursday 26 April tutorial at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (as scheduled).
  • Both tutorials will take place in the Roger C. Green Laboratory, Level 7, Human Sciences Building.


WEEK 8                    

1 May              Environmental reconstruction; Subsistence and diet.


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapters 6 & 7

Tutorial:        Faunal analysis, diet and environment reconstruction

  • Wednesday 2 May tutorial and Thursday 3 May tutorial at their regular scheduled times.
  • Both tutorials will take place in the Roger C. Green Laboratory, Level 7, Human Sciences Building.



8 May             Trade and exchange; Bioarchaeology


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapters 9 & 11

Tutorial:         Stratigraphy and mid-term test review (using trade and exchange)

  • Wednesday 9 May tutorial rescheduled to Tuesday 8 May at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm in our regular room (Room 155, Old Choral Hall - room booking TBC).
  • Thursday 10 May tutorial at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm (as scheduled) and in the regular room (G01, Commerce A building).



15 May            Social systems and ideology


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapter 5 

Tutorial:           Investigating socio-political transformations



22 May            Social systems and ideology (cont.)


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapters 10

Tutorial:           Heritage management



29 May            Heritage management


  • Renfrew and Bahn (2016), Chapters 14 - 15

Tutorial:           Exam review


Course summary:

Date Details