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AHIS3304 – Field Methods of Archaeology

2020 – Session 1, Weekday attendance, North Ryde

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts staff and students

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit Convenor, Lecturer and Tutor
A/Prof. Yann Tristant
Contact via Contact via Email
Australian Hearing Hub, South Wing, Level 2
By appointment only
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
(AHIS190 or AHIS1300) and 20cp at 2000 level
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

This unit is an examination of the methods and techniques used by archaeologists in a field situation to identify, recover, analyse and interpret their data. The course consists of lectures coupled with direct experience in field techniques of archaeology (survey techniques including aerial survey, geophysics and field walking; excavation strategies and recording; sieving and sampling strategies, etc.) using a range of modern scientific techniques. The majority of the teaching takes place in the on-campus teaching infrastructure (simulated archaeological excavation site) where students will practice the new skills acquired during the course.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: Acquire knowledge of the principles of archaeological excavation
  • ULO3: Analyse archaeological features and materials (pottery, architecture, metal, bone, and ivory objects) at an advanced level
  • ULO4: Communicate with other team members about strategies for excavation of an archaeological site
  • ULO5: Demonstrate critical thinking in the interpretation of the archaeological data
  • ULO2: Apply knowledge of archaeology while participating in archaeological fieldwork on campus
  • ULO6: Synthesize and communicate acquired knowledge and understanding to produce a critical analytical report

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts staff and students

Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status


Seminar 1: Monday 9am-12pm (10 Hadenfeld Ave - 212 Tutorial Rm)


Seminar 2: Wednesday 10am-1pm (10 Hadenfeld Ave - 211 Tutorial Rm)

Online units can be accessed at: https://ilearn.mq.edu.au PC and Internet access are required for those who wish to access iLearn. Basic computer skills (e.g., internet browsing) and skills in word processing are also a requirement. Please consult teaching staff for any further, more specific requirements.

Resources The unit will be based on the following text books, which can be purchased at the Co-Op bookstore (http://www.coop-bookshop.com.au):

Required Texts: • Balme, J., Paterson, A., Archaeology in Practice, Malden, Oxford, 2014 • Burke, H., Morrison, M., Smith, C., The Archaeologist Field Handbook, Crows Nest, 2nd ed.  

Recommended Texts: • Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. (2016), Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice, London, 7th ed. • Gamble, C. (2015), Archaeology. The basics, London, New York, 3rd ed.

Dig kit:

You need to purchase a gridded lab notebook for use as a journal while in the field. Tools will be provided to you; however, if you are planning on doing archaeology again, it would be a good investment for you to put together a dig kit of your own. At a minimum it should include a pointing trowel (WHS or Marshalltown is best). Optional items include a compass, a tape measure (centimetres), a line level, a hand lens, a folding rule, a paintbrush, knee pads and work gloves (all available at Bunnings); a camera.

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status



Practical work



24/02/2020 or 26/02/2020

Introduction to field Archaeology

MARS facility visit

Excavation practice


02/03/2020 or 04/03/2020

Methods and techniques of archaeological survey

Field research strategy

Excavation practice


09/03/2020 or 11/03/2020

Basics of site recording, stratigraphy, and excavation

Survey and mapping

Excavation practice


16/03/2020 or 18/03/2020

Research design and grant application


Excavation practice


23/03/2020 or 25/03/2020

Aerial photography (kite and drone demo)


Excavation practice


30/03/2020 or 01/04/2020

Objects and material record


Excavation practice Research Grant Proposal Application (5 April 2020)


06/04/2020 or 08/04/2020

Methods for archaeological finds processing

Excavation and finds processing

Excavation practice



27/04/2020 or 29/04/2020

Principles of chronology and archaeological dating

Excavation and finds processing

Excavation practice


04/05/2020 or 06/05/2020

Interpretation of archaeological finds

Excavation and finds processing

Excavation practice


11/05/2020 or 13/05/2020

Report and publication strategy

Excavation and finds processing

Online quiz

(17 May 2020)


18/05/2020 or 20/05/2020

Archaeology Open Day

(National Archaeology Week)

Excavation and finds processing

Excavation practice


25/05/2020 or 27/05/2020

Cultural Resource Management

Excavation and finds processing

Excavation practice



01/06/2020 or 03/06/2020

Review and summary

Excavation and finds processing

Excavation practice

Excavation report (7

June 2020)

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central). Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Students seeking more policy resources can visit the Student Policy Gateway (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/study/student-policy-gateway). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

If you would like to see all the policies relevant to Learning and Teaching visit Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central).

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/study/getting-started/student-conduct​


Results published on platform other than eStudent, (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au or if you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

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Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to improve your marks and take control of your study.

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

If you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Changes since First Published

Date Description
13/02/2020 Schedule amended