MA in Urban Archaeology
We live in an urban world. Cities are home to more than half of humanity and dominate all but the most remote landscapes. The rise of the city is one of the most important facts of the modern world. The study of urban origins, the processes of urban change and adaptation, the social use of space, and the management of heritage resources in growing modern cities, are of near universal relevance.
Britain has a long tradition of urban archaeology, and many key developments in contemporary archaeological practice were pioneered in the excavations undertaken by archaeologists working in cities such as London and York. This MA is designed to draw on the best of such work, drawing on the unrivalled resources for study that can be found in London but with a strongly international perspective.
A core course will explore approaches to the archaeology of urbanism, from its genesis to the medieval period. Emphasis will be placed on important theoretical issues, including identities and institutions; cities and empires; the architecture of power; town planning and urban morphology; the social construction of the ancient city; urban economies; and the representation of the city. The course will also examine the relevance of urban archaeology to 21st century communities, and especially how the archaeology of ancient cities contributes to current debates on the nature of the city, including concepts such as sustainable or resilient cities (UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities).
Current research approaches to recording & analysing complex stratigraphy; formation processes & taphonomy; integrating material culture and ecofacts, are covered in an additional half-unit core course, which will develop the students familiarity with the methodological tools for exploring urban space and sequence.
The degree will appeal to an international cohort of scholars wishing to specialise in this important field: there is almost no country for which the theory and practice of urban archaeology is not of primary relevance to the challenges facing the discipline in the 21st century.
Dominic Perring and Tim Williams have current research projects in Asia (China & Turkmenistan), the Middle East (Lebanon & Palestine), Europe (Italy, Ireland & UK) and the Caribbean (Jamaica) working on urban problems from the Bronze Age to the modern day. The course also has very strong links to London archaeology, and will draw upon unrivalled archaeological archives from the most intensively archaeologically explored city of the modern era, with input from a range of staff across organisations within the city, and access to archival material for research.