ARCH41180 Experimental Archaeology: Making, Understanding, Storytelling

Academic Year 2022/2023

Experimental Archaeology can be defined as the reconstruction of past buildings, practices, technologies, and things, based on archaeological evidence, and their investigation through testing, recording, and experience, so as to create a better understanding of people and their material culture in the past. In this module, we will explore through project case studies, the nature of experimental archaeology, and outline its key principles and achievements,. We will discuss how experimental archaeology projects can investigate how prehistoric and medieval houses were built, used, and abandoned; how people produced, processed and prepared food and drink; how people used different raw materials, tacit knowledge and embodied skills and technologies to make things, such as pottery, iron tools, non-ferrous metals, organics and textiles. We will also explore the relationships and changing boundaries between experimental archaeology, experiential archaeology, living history, and reenactment, and explore how these all can help us to practically re-create things from the past, understand the past and the archaeological record, and to tell stories about them. This module will be taught through seminars, lectures, and fieldwork, as well as practical craft and making activities at the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture (CEAMC).

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, you will be able to

1. Be informed and thoughtful about the theoretical and methodological aspects of experimental archaeology as a means of investigating materiality and material culture in the past.

2. Be able to review and critique experimental archaeology projects, with an emphasis on understanding what makes for excellence in project design, the posing of research questions, the use of appropriate project methodologies to gather data, and interpretation in the context of archaeological evidence.

3. Make presentations, engage in seminar discussions, critically appraise ideas and approaches in experimental archaeology through reflection and debate

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Field Trip/External Visits




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures, seminars, workshops, and practical experiences in making and using things at UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture, and reflections on the character of archaeological evidence, and what it can tells us about peoples' knowledge, embodied skills and experiences in the past. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Assignment: Essay defining: 'what is experimental archaeology?' Week 6 n/a Graded No


Project: A project providing a review and critique of an experimental archaeology project, or projects, worldwide, with a focus on a particular theme. Week 12 n/a Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

UCD School of Archaeology use standard feedback sheets for all modules. Your feedback is provided on this form - the form also contains feed forward details - this will help you think about how you could improve your approach in future assignments

Name Role
Professor Joanna Bruck Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Amanda Kelly Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Ryan Lash Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Meriel McClatchie Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Brendan O'Neill Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Rob Sands Lecturer / Co-Lecturer