29916 - Methodology of Archaeological Research (1) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

During this lesson, students will look at the methodology of modern archeology research, starting with theory and then getting into the technical aspects of working in the field. Students will learn to use correct methodology in setting up and carrying out a research project, from the preliminary prospective to excavation, from gathering data to classifying it, from interpretation to communication of the results.

Course contents

The study course is organized in 3 sections.

The first section is a general overview, the others are dedicated to some specific aspects linked to the activities of the Archeology Labs, such as the Topography Lab and the Materials Lab coordinated by Chiara Mattioli (http://www.storia-culture-civilta.unibo.it/it/attivita-didattica/laboratori-didattici/laboratorio-di-archeologia-1).

This course, in fact, is closely linked, due to its themes, with the Archeology Labs of the same department and it is therefore recommended that students attend both this course and the labs at the same time.

In the first of the three sections of the course, a summary of the most modern and innovative methodologies will be presented of both research and documentation in an archeological context using several case studies (site rather than territory, a stratified excavation rather than surface analysis) and to the kind of research (emergency archeology or urban archeology rather than long term systematic research). Furthermore, the techniques necessary for putting together a research project will be explained, starting with preventative archeology and moving on to excavations and their documentation. In conclusion, some of the problems of being an archeologist will be discussed: collaborating with Superintendencies, museums, local entities, safety on the job and professional outlets.

In the second section, using case studies, the main aspects of techniques used in documenting the topography of archeological sites will be discussed.

In the third section, we will look at the problems in documenting cultural material with a specific look at ceramics: from the excavation of relics on site to their classification and study in the lab.


The students attending this course will need to study, besides attending the lessons, the following mandatory book:

- E. Giorgi (a c.), In profondità senza scavare. Metodologie di indagine non invasiva e diagnostica per l'archeologia (Groma 2/2009), Bologna 2009 (in particolare capitoli 3.1; 3.4; 3.5; 3.6; 3.8; 5.1; 7; 10);

- C. Renfrew, P. Bahn, L'essenziale di archeologia. Teoria-Metodi-Pratica, Bologna 2009.

- S.T Levi, Dal coccio al vasaio. Manifattura, tecnologia e classificazione della ceramica, Bologna 2010 (Capitoli 1-5, pp. 32-130).

- 1 paper selected in: http://groma.unibo.it/


Students who do not attend this course will need to study the following mandatory books:

- E. Giorgi (a c.), In profondità senza scavare. Metodologie di indagine non invasiva e diagnostica per l'archeologia (Groma 2/2009), Bologna 2009 (the parts that are too technical with the formulas can be skipped and the 'schede' can be consulted only if necessary as a teaching aid);

- C. Renfrew, P. Bahan, Archeologia. Teorie, metodi e pratica, Zanichelli 2018.

- 2 papers selected in: http://groma.unibo.it/

Furthermore, is recommended the reading of:

- G. Bonora, P.L. Dall'AGlio, S. Patitucci, G. Uggeri, La Topografia Antica, Bologna 2000, pp. 135-164, pp. 177-241.


The foreign students, who do not have enough familiarity with Italian,will need to study the following mandatory books:

C. Renfrew, P. Bahan, Archaeology. Theory, methods and pratices, 2008;

F. Boschi (ed.), Looking for the Future, Caring for the past. Preventive Archaeology in Theory and Practice, Bologna University Press 2016, pp. 85 -214 (Cases Study of City archaeology).



The following books may be useful for further study on your own:

- S. Pallecchi, Archeologia delle Tracce, Roma 2008;

- E. Giannichedda, Archeologia Teorica, Roma 2002;

- C. Corsi, B. Splapsak, F. Vermeulen (a c.), Good Practice in Archeological Diagnostics. Non Invasive Survey of Complex Archaeological Sites, Gent 2013;

- M.O.H. Carver, Archaeological Investigation, New York 2009 (also ebook);

- M.O.H. Carver, Making archaeology happen: design versus dogma, London 2011;

- R. Francovich, D. Manacorda (a c.), Dizionario di archeologia. Temi, concetti e metodi, Bari 2000;

- E. Giannichedda, Uomini e cose: appunti di archeologia, Bari 2006;

- F. C. Giuliani, L'edilizia nell'antichità, Roma 2006;

- C. Tronchetti, Metodo e strategie dello scavo archeologico, Roma 2003.

- D. Manacorda, Lezioni di archeologia, Bari 2008.

- M. Vidale, Che cos'è l'etnoarcheologia, Roma 2004

- M. Cremaschi, Manuale di geoarcheologia, Bari 2000.

Teaching methods

The lectures will be similar to labs, designed to create dialogue, and will contain many examples (with the help of topographic instruments and technology and with the involvement of experts of the various techniques). Some readings will be assigned that will need to be critically assessed by the students (short essays), taken from the most recent issues of available specialized magazines both in hard copy and online at the libraries of the Archeology Department, such as: Antiquity (http://journal.antiquity.ac.uk/); Groma (http://groma.unibo.it/); Journal of Field Archaeology (http://www.maneyonline.com/loi/jfa).

Assessment methods

The active participation in lessons, conferences and teaching activities will also be evaluated. The final vote will be determined by an oral exam. The questions will cover the following topics:

1. Meaning and documentation of the material culture, notes on Archeometry and Production Archeology;

2. Topographic documentation of an archaeological site (Direct Surveying and Instrumental with GPS, Total Station, Laser Scanner, Photogrammetry) with reference also to non-invasive techniques (Remote Sensing, Aerial Photography, Geophysics);

3. Question chosen from the presentations of the course (History of Discipline, Context and Sources, Landscape, Excavation and Formation of the Depot, Relative and Absolute Chronology, Case Studies);

4. There will also be a discussion on the themes address in the paper chosen by the student in the Review Groma (as mentioned in the section on teaching methods)

In order to pass the exam, students must show they have understood the issues discussed and must be able to identify the right methodology for different archeological contexts while using the correct terminology for this field.

Teaching tools

There will be a lot of examples made throughout the class along with the use of various archeological instruments (topography, technology, etc…). When possible, there will be the opportunity to take part in archeological digs or labs run by the professors. For the students doing the Laurea Magistrale there will be the Archeology Labs Level 2 (http://www.storia-culture-civilta.unibo.it/it/attivita-didattica/laboratori-didattici/laboratorio-di-archeologia-1).

Links and further information


Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Enrico Giorgi