ARP 3053 – Society, Death & Disease

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Module Overview

The module has three main themes: human osteoarchaeology and its contribution to our understanding of life in the past, the study of funerary monuments, and disease and its impact on past societies. In the first theme, students are introduced to the study of archaeological human remains and what the osteological and palaeopathological analysis of past people can contribute to the studies of societies. Four practical sessions provide an opportunity to identify human bones and to determine the age, sex and stature of a human skeleton. The second theme focuses on the information that can be gained from the study of funerary monuments and, in particular, post-medieval grave memorials. Fieldtrips to Friar’s Bush and Balmoral cemetries are an integral part of the module, and students are required to undertake a project on an aspect of grave memorials. The final theme investigates a number of diseases of considerable antiquity, including leprosy and tuberculosis, which have had a strong impact on past human societies.

Learning outcomes

You will develop an appreciation of human osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology in a multidisciplinary setting and gain an understanding of some of the contentious themes in osteoarchaeology. You will also gain an understanding of post-medieval grave memorials, and develop your ability to critically evaluate scientific reports, as well as basic skills in osteoarchaeology and competence in communicating ideas and arguments clearly to others.


Module Co-ordinator: Dr Eileen Murphy

Note: Some modules may not be offered every year