76010 - Research Methods and Topics in Prehistory

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The course focusses on methods and techniques of current prehistoric research, with particular reference to sciences applied to archaeological contexts and topics, new technologies, exerimental archaeology, and cultural anthropology. Appropriate attention will be devoted to the methods of documentation of the archaeological record from excavation activities, to landscape analysis and experimental archaeology.

At the end of the course students will be able to deal with the most up-to-date research questions and to elaborate interdisciplinary research projects at an international level. 

Good knowledge and skill in the use of English language is required, since most of the recent literature is written in English.

Course contents

During the lectures, we will focus on the main methods and tools currently used in the field of prehistoric research. In particular, through the study of environmental, biological and economic aspects, students will be able to investigate the theme of 'change' in prehistory, to analyse mobility patterns in the prehistoric landscape

Lectures will be grouped according following themes:

  • Dynamic of transformation in European prehistory
  • Human mobility and migration in the past (ancient DNA, strontium and oxygen isotope analysis)
  • Demography and social organization; bioarchaeological study of prehistoric cemeteries; economy and resources exploitation; craft productions and exchange systems; ideology and rituals
  • Mountain landscapes, upland archaeology, transhumance
  • Arteftacts from exacavation to laboratory: objects as markers of technological processes, collective memories and historical dynamics.
  • Production and technology: methods of analysis and reconstruction of operational chains; experimental archaeology; metals in prehistory.


Guidi A. 2000, Preistoria della complessità sociale, Bari.

Renfrew C., Bahn P. 2017, Archeologia. Teoria, metodi, pratica, Bologna.

Reeves Flores J., Paardekooper R.P. (eds) 2014, Experiments Past. Histories of Experimental Archaeology. Leiden, Sidestone Press.

Further texts in English will be added during the lectures (mostly papers of recent publication), available with username and password at AMS Campus - AlmaDL - University of Bologna.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods will include lessons with powerpoint presentations.

These must be considered of primary importance for the general understanding of the a modern approach to the discipline. Attending the lessons will be evaluated positively.

Good knowledge and skill in the use of English language is required, since most of the recent literature is written in English

Assessment methods

Students will be submitted to oral examination. Students who did not attend lectures are required to agree with the teacher upon a specific program.

During the lectures and in the final examination the students will be evaluated in thier ability to understand general themes and methods, as well as to manage bibliography. Language skills,  appropriate use of the technical language, and the ability to present the recent advances of archaeological research will be taken in great consideration.

The unsuccessful knowledge of chronology, historical and geographical background, inappropriate language will be evaluated negatively.

Students can decide to use Italian or English for the oral test.

Teaching tools

Powerpoint presentations will be available at the web site of the teacher.

Office hours

See the website of Claudio Cavazzuti