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The University of Southampton

ARCH6418 Themes in Osteoarchaeology

Module Overview

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • of the varying theoretical approaches to the analysis of human and animal skeletal remains
  • of human-animal interactions in the past
  • of skeletal remains as a resource for studying past variability in diet and subsistence, health and disease, social structure and organisation, speciation and extinction, ideology and religious belief, and population history and migration
  • of the ethical issues surrounding working with human remains
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • integrate theoretical issues and archaeological questions with empirical data
  • critique specific techniques and methods of osteological analysis
  • pose and tackle archaeological questions using skeletal data
  • evaluate results of skeletal analyses and studies
  • critique osteoarchaeological data and interpretations derived from it
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • lead seminars and discussion groups
  • undertake analysis and presentation of quantitative data.


Topics may vary according to staff availability, but issues typically covered include: - Subsistence of Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans - The beginning of domestication and its ongoing processes: zoo-archaeological and genetic evidence - Food provisioning in complex societies - Bioarchaeology: status and inequality - Ethnicity and identity - Migration and mobility through the application of isotopic analyses - The use of isotopic analyses in the determination of diet - Bioarchaeology of disability and care

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module is taught by a combination of lectures, to introduce the key areas of consideration, and seminars, in which students and staff can discuss the issues raised in more detail, and as they relate to specific case studies. In addition, students will deliver presentations around their own areas of enquiry, with opportunities for peer feedback and learning.

Assessment tasks56
Wider reading or practice70
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Bentley, R.A. (2006). Strontium Isotopes from the Earth to the Archaeological Skeleton: A Review. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. ,13 , pp. 135-187.

Zeder M (2006) Archaeological approaches to documenting animal domestication. In Zeder et al. (eds.) Documenting domestication. Berkeley : University of California Press, pages 171-180.. 

Stallibrass, S. and Thomas R. (eds.) (2008) Feeding the Roman Army. Oxbow: Oxford. 

Lorenzen E., Nogués-Bravo D., Orlando L., Weinstock J., et al. (2011). Species-specific responses of Late Quaternary megafauna to climate and humans. Nature. ,479 , pp. 359–364.

Buzon, M.R. 2006. Biological and Ethnic Identity in New Kingdom Nubia: A Case Study from Tombos. Current Anthropology 47: 683-695.. 



Oral presentation


MethodPercentage contribution
Literature review  (2000 words) 50%
Written assignment  (2000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Literature review  (2000 words) 50%
Written assignment  (2000 words) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Printing and Photocopying Costs

There are no specific costs to students, though some of them may wish to print/photocopy some of the articles from the recommended literature. The great majority of the items, however, are available online and/or in the Hartley library or in the Osteoarchaeology 'library'.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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