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The University of Southampton

ARCH1002 Emergence of Civilisation: domesticating ourselves and others

Module Overview

Archaeology reveals how during prehistory certain transformations have profoundly altered human societies. These include the adoption of domesticated plants and animals, sedentism, the adoption of new technologies (such as pottery) and the emergence of complex forms of social organisation. This module explores these transformations through a selected range of regional case studies, emphasising the diverse nature of complex human societies across the globe and through time. Over the course of this module you will not only learn to critically assess society in the past, but also what this reveals about the world we live in today.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• provide an introduction to some important transformations in the prehistory of human societies, such as the relationship between the adoption of domesticated plants, sedentism, new technologies such as pottery production and the development of complex forms of social organisation. • introduce the key theoretical frameworks used to understand these transformations.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • general knowledge and understanding of the multiple and regionally diverse nature of the worldwide development of complex human societies
  • general understanding of the problems which arise from our own position in the cultural and intellectual tradition of the developed western world.
  • more detailed understanding of regional cultural sequences.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • critically assess arguments presented to explain major developments in prehistory
  • assess the nature of archaeological evidence employed to address questions concerning social change in prehistory
  • critically evaluate competing explanations about past events
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • present a written argument
  • verbally discuss ideas with peers and staff


This course takes a comparative look at the origins of agriculture, the growth and variability of agricultural societies, and the development of civilisation in a number of different regions of the world, from the Near East to China and Mesoamerica, as well as Europe. It emphasises the similarities in the historical development of individual regions as well as the variety of cultures and different organisations concerned.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • Lectures • Seminars Learning activities include • Independent study • Reflective blog posts • Seminars • Lectures

Wider reading or practice34
Completion of assessment task60
Preparation for scheduled sessions20
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Price, T.D. and G.M. Feinman (2005). Images of the Past. 

Smith, M.E. (ed) (2012). The comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies. 

Scarre, Chris (ed) (2013). The Human Past: World Prehistory and the development of human societies. 

Bellwood, P. (2005). First Farmers: The origins of Agricultural Societies. 

Bogucki, P (1999). The origins of human society. 

Barnett, W.K. and J.W. Hoopes (eds) (1995). The emergence of pottery: technology an innovation in ancient societies. 

Yoffee, N. (2005). Myths of the Archaic State. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Blog  (1500 words) 40%
Essay  (2000 words) 60%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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