Institute of Archaeology
SoundcloudInstagramIoA Blog

Institute of Archaeology 80th Anniversary (1937-2017)

Archaeobotanical Analysis in Practice


The course focuses on the practical hands-on aspects of sorting, identifying, quantifying and reporting archaeobotanical macro-remains, with primary emphasis on seeds. The teaching hours of this course will be held as a one week, 40-hour, intensive short course in Reading Week of Term II. This short course in archaeobotanical seed identification is also open to continuing education students, for details see here. For MSc/ MA students Written work and the exam are due in Term III. Nevertheless, intention to take this course should be indicated to coordinator well in advance (i.e. during Term I).

The course will train students to prepare basic descriptive archaeobotanical reports. Identification training will focus in most detail on the identification of major Old World seed crops (including Near East/European as well as some South/East Asian and African taxa).

The course will provide basic tools for identification that can be applied to the identification of other taxa. It is expected that students pursuing this course will also take a theory seminar, chosen from amongst the 3 half-unit core course for the MSc in Environmental Archaeology.

Aims of the course

This course focuses on the practical hands-on aspects of sorting, identification, quantification and reporting of archaeobotanical macro-remains, with a primary emphasis on seeds, including sessions on economic plant categories (such as oil seeds or cereals) and on systematic groupings (focusing on key families and orders, such as those that recur as arable weeds in the Old World). There will also be introductions to wood charcoal, parenchyma tissue and phytoliths, at a general plant anatomical level.

This course should prepare students to produce basic descriptive archaeobotanical reports based on macro-remains (seed) assemblages. Identification will focus in most detail on major Old World seed crops (including Near Eastern/European as well as South/East Asian and African taxa). The course will provide basic tools for identification that can be applied to other taxa, and students will be continually challenged to identify modern, artificially charred, and archaeological specimens. The main aim for this course is for students to leave being able to sort archaeobotanical samples and effectively make identifications of their material.

Teaching Methods

This option is taught weekly during both terms. Sessions normally begin with an identification quiz (which is NOT marked, but preparatory for the research life of an archaeobotanist, and for the final practical exam), this is then followed by an introduction to the material for the current session, after which students puruse their own observations, note-taking and diagram drawing, asking questions as pertinent. Further time spent drawing and observing is expected to be carried out during the rest of the following week, There will be no formal teaching in Reading Weeks. Additional time in the laboratory will be needed outside of class for individual study of material and drawing, as well as for assigned reading.

Course information

  • Code: ARCLG101
  • Credits: 15
  • Coordinator: Dorian Fuller
  • Prerequisite: This course does not have a prerequisite.
  • Handbook: openĀ»

For registered students


  • Running in 2016-17

Bookmark and Share