The University of Southampton
Courses

ARCH3045 The Archaeology and Anthropology of Adornment

Module Overview

The impulse to adorn the body is as old as human history. This module explores the extraordinary variety of ways in which people have adorned their bodies in a range of archaeological and anthropological contexts, from body painting and tattooing, to the elaborate Yemenite costume and silver jewellery of the Arabian Peninsula. Teaching and learning will draw on a series of case studies from across the globe in order to explore key themes in the archaeology and anthropology of adornment including the role of the body in display, the social role of ornamentation and dress, and technologies and materials of transformation and adornment. In addition, students will participate in a museum field trip and practical sessions during which they will plan and design an object to ornament a body. These activities will facilitate students’ theoretical and practical understandings of the relationship between the body and the material culture of adornment.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aims of this module are to provide an essential grounding in the archaeology and anthropology of the body and adornment

Learning Outcomes

Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Assimilate and evaluate different theoretical perspectives
  • Deploy independent research skills
  • Learn and apply new practical and theoretical skills
Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • A grounding in social theory appropriate to understanding the archaeology and anthropology of the body
  • An understanding of the ways that the body can act as a surface for display and the relationship between the body and material culture
  • An appreciation of the social role of adornment, particularly in relation to the construction and communication of social categories, including age (life-stage), gender, ethnicity, and status
  • Engage with different cultural contexts
  • Implement data research/collection to plan and design to a brief
  • A broad knowledge of technologies and equipment associated with bodily transformation and adornment
  • An awareness of the range of materials and forms of material culture used to adorn the body in different cultural contexts

Syllabus

The module will be delivered through a combination of weekly lectures, seminars, object design practicals, and a fieldtrip. The topics typically covered are as follows: - A range of social theory approaches used to understand the archaeology and anthropology of the body - The role of the body as a surface for display and ways in which the relationship between the body and material culture may be played out - The social role of adornment, particularly in relation to the construction and communication of social categories, including age (life-stage), gender, ethnicity, and status - Technologies and equipment associated with bodily transformation and adornment - The range of materials, techniques, and forms of material culture used to adorn the body in different cultural contexts

Special Features

There are several important collections of ornaments in the UK. A field trip will be included to one of the major museums holding one of these collections (e.g. British Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum). The destination may vary from year to year. The field trip will be important for students in preparing for Assignment 2. Assignment 2 involves the design of an ornament for a particular social category of person or life event. Students will be assisted in the planning of their ornament during practical sessions. In the case of students with special needs, every effort will be made to accommodate students with special needs. Any associated risks will be identified and mitigated through a risk assessment prior to the activity. Prof. Sofaer has a City and Guilds qualification in jewellery making.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures Seminars Practical design sessions Fieldtrip

TypeHours
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Seminar6
Follow-up work25
Lecture14
Wider reading or practice50
Completion of assessment task15
Practical classes and workshops4
External visits6
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Robb, J., & O. J. T. Harris. (2013). The Body in History: Europe from the Palaeolithic to the Future. 

Tait, H. (ed) (2006). 7000 Years of Jewellery. 

Mauss, M. (1935). Techniques of the Body. 

Howson, A. (2004). The Body in Society. 

Phillips, C. (2008). Jewels and Jewellery. 

Examples of journals with a range of relevant papers include:. African Arts Annual Review of Anthropology Body and Society Oceania

Lock, M.M. & Farquhar, J.. Beyond the Body Proper: Reading the Anthropology of Material Life. 

Thomas, H. (2013). The Body and Everyday Life. 

Fletcher, J. (2005). The Decorated Body in Ancient Egypt: hairstyles, cosmetics and tattoos. 

Ahmed S. and Stacey J. (2001). Thinking Through The Skin. 

Assessment

Formative

Practical

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Design  (2000 words) 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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