13157 - Archaeological Research Methodology (1)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

After completing this course students will have the basic information to understand the complexity of modern archaeological research, referring to the most recent strategies of stratigraphic excavation, preliminary survey, territorial analysis and scientific analysis that contribute to the reconstruction of the past. They will know enough basic theory to take an appropriate part in various investigatory situations; they will apply the above methods unaided and in an organized manner, following various kinds of research project with a citical eye, whether field work or editing of results. Their oral communication manner will be suited to the discipline. They will be able to learn from experts in various fields and choose the tools most suited to their own skills and purposes.

Course contents

History, Theory, Tecniques and Methods.

The course contents will be organized in two didactic unities; the first one on theoretical character where the suitable matters to the point will be faced 1. the second didactic unity will be devoted to the close examination of the different fields of investigation pointed out to the points: 2, 3, 4 5.

1) The complexity of archaeological research:

  • From the documents, to the survey and the excavation: a short story
  • Methodologies of fieldwork (survey and excavation), finds analysis, data processing
  • The methods of archaeological mapping: aerial photos and cartography
  • Data dissemination: scientific publishing and communication

Fields Research :
  • Landscape Archaeology and Environnement Archaeology
  • Architectural and Urban Archaeology
  • Archaeology of Production
  • Experimental Archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology

Archaeology and Science:

  • Archaeometry, Bioarchaeology, Archaeogenetic
  • Geophysical Methods and Geomorphology

Theoretical Archaeology:

  • Processual and Post-processual Archaeology: their development in the interpretation of the archaeological record

Communication in Archaeology:

  • Increase (conservation, protection, communication), and Public Archaeology

An outline of the Cultural Heritage Laws:

  • The "Preventive Archaeology" and the professional jobs



Compulsory reading (one to choice among):
A. CARANDINI, Storie dalla terra. Manuale di scavo archeologico, Torino 1996
D. MANACORDA, Lezioni di Archeologia, Roma-Bari 2008;

or (recommended):

C. RENFREW, P. BAHN, Archaeology: theory, methods, practice, London 2016 (7th Edition)

C. GAMBLE, Archaeology. The Basics, London 2008

E.C. CLINE, Digging Deeper. How Archaeology Works, Princeton University Press 2020

Optional reading (one choice on specific theme):

Thecniques of the archaeological excavations:

Ph. BARKER, Tecniques of archaeological excavation, London 1977
E.C. HARRIS, Principles of  archaeological stratigraphy, London 1981
A GUIDI, I metodi dell'archeologia, Roma-Bari 1994
S. PALLECCHI, Archeologia delle tracce, Roma 2008

E. FELICI, Archeologia subacquea, metodi, tecniche e strumenti, Roma 2002

M.O.H. CARVER, Archaeological Investigation, London 12009

Methods of the archaeological relief:

M. MEDRI, Manuale di rilievo archeologico, Bari 2003

Landscape archaeology:
F. CAMBI, Manuale di archeologia dei paesaggi, Roma 2011

Architectural archaeology:
A. BOATO, L'archeologia in architettura: misurazioni, stratigrafie, datazioni, restauro, Venezia 2008
S. BELTRAMO, Stratigrafia dell'architettura e ricerca storica, Roma 2009

G.P. BROGIOLO, A. CAGNANA, Archeologia dell'architettura, Firenze 2012

Rescue excavations:
M.T. GUAITOLI (ed.), "Emergenza sostenibile. Metodi e strategie per l'archeologia urbana. Atti della giornata di studio, Bologna 23 marzo 2009", "I Cardini di Groma" 2, Bologna 2010

G.P. BROGIOLO, A. CHAVARRIA ARNAU, Archeologia postclassica. Temi, strumenti, prospettive, Roma 2020

Archaeology af the manufacturing:

T. MANNONI, E. GIANNICHEDDA, Archeologia della produzione, Torino 1996 (or: E. GIANNICHEDDA, Uomini e cose: appunti di archeologia, Bari 2006)
M. VIDALE, Ceramica e archeologia, Roma 2007

N. CUOMO DI CAPRIO, Ceramica in archeologia 2. Antiche tecniche di lavorazione e moderni metodi di indagine, Roma 2007

A. GABUCCI, L'archeologia come mestiere. Dallo scavo al magazzino: i materiali, Trieste 2013 (on line version; https://www.openstarts.units.it/dspace/handle/10077/10322)

M. CECI, R. SANTANGELI VALENZANI, La ceramica nello scavo. Analisi, quantificazione e interpretazione, Roma 2016

Experimental archaeology and Ethnoarchaeology:

J. COLES, Experimental Archaeology, London 1979
M. VIDALE, Che cos'è l'etnoarcheologia, Roma 2004

Science and Archaeology:
G. DI PASQUALE, Che cos'è l'archeobotanica, Roma 2011
A. CONCI, S. MINOZZI, Archeologia dei resti umani. Dallo scavo al laboratorio, Roma 2015 (new edition)
N. LANERI, Archeologia della morte, Roma 2011

V. NIZZO, Archeologia e Antropologia della morte. Storia di un'idea, Bari 2015

Theoretical Archaeology:

N. TERRENATO (a cura di), "Archeologia teorica. X Ciclo di lezioni sulla ricerca applicata in Archeologia. Certosa di Pontignano (Siena) 9-14 agosto 1999", Firenze 2000

M. RAMAZZOTTI, Archeologia e semiotica: linguaggi, codici, logiche e modelli, Torino 2010

E. GIANNICHEDDA, Archeologia teorica, Roma 2016 (new edition)

Valorization in archaeology:
D. MANACORDA, Il sito archeologico fra ricerca e valorizzazione, Roma 2007
M.O.H. CARVER, Making archaeology happen: design versus dogma, London 2011

The Public Archaeology:

DOSSIER: New trends in the communication of Archaelogy,  in "PCA. European Journal of postclassical archaeologies" 4, 2014, pp. 331-426.

M.C. PARELLO, M.S. RIZZO (eds.), "Archeologia pubblica al tempo della crisi. Atti delle giornate gregoriane VII edizione (29-30 novembre 2013)", Bari 2014

G. VOLPE, Archeologia pubblica. Metodi, tecniche, esperienze, Roma 2020

Preventive archaeology and others experiences:

M.P. GUERMANDI, K.S. ROSSENBACH (eds.), Twenty years after Malta: preventive archaeology in Europe and in Italy, Bologna 2014 (pdf on-line)

C. MEGALE, Fare l'archeologo. Per passione e per mestiere, Livorno 2009 (on line version: www.fondazionelivorno.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Archeologia.pdf)

C. DAL MASO, F. RIPANTI (eds.), Archeostorie. Manuale non convenzionale di archeologia, Milano 2015

R. KNOBLOCH, La professione dell'archeologo. Nascita e sviluppo di una professione dalla metà del Novecento agli anni Duemila, Salerno 2016

A. CARANDINI, La forza del contesto, Roma-Bari 2017

The each subjects are look up in:

R. FRANCOVICH, D. MANACORDA (eds.), Dizionario di Archeologia. Temi,concetti e metodi, Roma-Bari 2000; in particular sub voces:Ambientale (archeologia); Antiquaria; Antropologia; Archeobotanica; Architettura (archeologia); Archeometria; Bioarcheologia; Contesto; Cultura materiale; Datazione; Diagnostica; Etnoarcheologia; New Archaeology; Paradigma indiziario; Post-processuale (archeologia); Ricognizione; Sperimentale (archeologia); Storia; Storia dell'arte; Urbana (archeologia). Per lo scavo e lo studio dei materiali: Campionatura; Ceramica, Classificazione e tipologia; Commercio (archeologia); Conservazione; Consumo; Disegno ricostruttivo; Geoarcheologia; Processi formativi; Quantitativa (archeologia); Residuo; Scavo archeologico; Scavo, pratica e documentazione; Subacquea (archeologia); Valutazione.

Other texts will be suggested during the lessons. An agreement with the teacher is suggested to choose individual bibliography or to replace texts.

The course for students of the first degree who have no previous experience , it can be integrated in advance by reading the manual : D. Manacorda , Prima lezione di archeologia, Roma 2006, or: A. Guidi, I metodi dell'archeologia, Roma-Bari 1994; Eric H. Cline, Digging Deeper. How Archaeology Works, Princeton Universiti Press, NJ 2020 (availables at the Library of the Archaeology Section - DiSCi )

All texts to suggest, are available in the library of the Department of the History and Cultures -DiSCi - Archaeology Section,while the material treated in class will be available from time to time on the Virtuale platform (https://virtuale.unibo.it).

Attending students are required to prepare a mandatory text and a reading of your choice on a specific topic , as well as the lecture notes . Non-attending students must choose one additional reading , additional to those provided for attending . Any variation of the program should be agreed in advance with the teacher .

The beginning, the time of the lessons and the methods of delivery will be communicated according to the University's instructions.

Classes are held normally on Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday 15-17 ( Fumagalli Room); the start is scheduled September 20, 2021 ( First cicle). The professor respects the four-hour academic qualification, to allow students who attend classes in the previous or other time, to comfortably reach the lesson class. If, due to the pandemic, classes should be held in mixed mode (blended), immediate notice will be given according to University guidelines, and the student must register for the dedicated APP.

Teaching methods

Conventional Lessons, seminars, workshop and Laboratory activities. Laboratory activities, related to the archaeological finds, are suggested, to acquire skills

The method is conventional lessons, during which you will use Power Point presentations , which at the end of the course will be made available to the students , so as to constitute the guideline for the exam .

Active mediators, such as direct experience throught objects, visits or experiments, and iconic mediators (films, digital devices, photographs etc.) can also be used.

Each topic will be accompanied by sectoral seminar interventions , aimed at illustrating the individual instruments and methods used in the field of archaeological research . It ' also recommended the frequency of Laboratories ( relief and on the study of materials ) , as well as participation in an archaeological excavation , to allow the student direct intervention on the ground experience and knowledge of issues related to the acquisition , study and data processing .

In order, to share a participatory approach and interaction with the professor that has a positive feedbackon the expectation of the students, we will administer a questionnaire inbound, in itinere and final, to assess the feedback and calibrate the course on the real needs of boths knowledge and expectations in professional field. The questionnaire will cover both the expectations, objectives, contents and skills that the students aspire to achive, but also the minitoring of previous knowledge for the possible creation of working groups betwen students whit different skills, to try to fill gaps and respond to the concept of “problem solving” or to submit a “case-study”.

As concerns the teaching methods of this course unit, all students must attend Module 1, 2 [https://www.unibo.it/en/services-and-opportunities/health-and-assistance/health-and-safety/online-course-on-health-and-safety-in-study-and-internship-areas] on Health and Safety online

The frequency is recommended, in how much important to understand the complexity of the discipline and as orientation in sight of the examination.

Assessment methods

Oral examination-test, for evaluation of the degree of theoretical knowlewdge and critical talent in the discipline . This usually consists of questions, some  pertaining to  the overview lecture part and reading,  and others related to specific topics examined in the course. The examination is intended to assess the level of knowledge and understanding gained by  students.

The assessment will thus consider the student's:
- knowledge and understanding of the topics covered;
- ability to summarise and analyse themes and concepts;
- familiarity with the terminology associated with the subject and his ability to use it effectively.

Top marks will be awarded to a student displaying an ability to provide an overall understanding of the topics discussed during the lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology (30L/30).

Average marks will be awarded to a student who has memorized the main points of the material and is able to summarise them satisfactorily and provide an effective critical commentary, while failing to display a complete command of the appropriate terminology (from 25 in order).

A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the subject, together with a poor command of the appropriate terminology.

The exam sessions are monthly (except August) and distributed approximately between 15 and 20 of each month.

The students can enroll in the examination through the system Almaesami.

Teaching tools

To use during the lessons: video-projector, presentation  (PP), and laboratory equipment; presentation (PP) is at students disposisional.

Is planned use of the projector for presentations in PP , in addition to computer equipment made available by the laboratories for processing GIS platforms , remote sensing , reading of the walls ; at the end of the lectures will be provided to the students presentations in PP , as guidelines for the exam, always on the VIRTUALE platform.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Maria Teresa Guaitoli