scroll symbol, Mississippian culture, Moundville, Alabama

Introduction to Archaeology
Course Syllabus

Anth. 220
Fall 2021

Christopher Fennell
and Emma Verstrate

globe, hand and eye symbol, Mississippian culture, Moundville, Alabama

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This course provides an introduction to theory and methods in archaeological research, data collection, and analysis. The objective is to familiarize you with the strategies that are employed in the investigation of archaeological remains and how these strategies further the aims of an anthropological archaeology. Grades will be based on two in-class exams, two section quizzes, and weekly assignments. Learn more about the course structure and opportunities in the general syllabus guidelines.

I have created a course web page for Introduction to Archaeology using the University's Compass program. You can access the course web page by logging onto the Compass system, which will display all existing web pages for your courses. Choose Anth. 220 from the display list and you can access the course syllabus, assignments, lecture notes and illustrations, extra credit opportunities, practice quizzes, and other online class resources. The logon page for Compass is available at:

Feathered Serpent Pyramid at Teotihuacan

Course Requirements and Policies

Exams, Quizzes, and Assignments

Your grade will be based on your performance on 2 in-class exams, 2 section quizzes, and 10 discussion section homework/exercises:

Graded Component% of Course GradeSchedule
Section Assignments & Labs25Weekly
Quiz 110Sept. 24
Midterm Examination25Oct. 20
Quiz 210Nov. 12
Final Examination30Dec. 8

When taking exams and quizzes and completing written assignments, you will be responsible for knowing the concepts and terms discussed in the assigned readings, in the films shown in class, and in the topics covered in lectures, discussion sections, handouts, and web page or power point summaries. When completing assignments, be careful that you do not plagiarize the works of another; that is, do not present the work or words of another person in a verbatim manner as your own. Consult the UIUC student code for more guidelines on academic integrity. Assignments handed in late will lose 10% of the possible credit after the class in which they are due, and 10% more for each subsequent day late. No make-ups are provided for missed exams, quizzes, or assignments in the absence of documented and legitimate medical or family emergencies.

Attendance and Participation

Your regular attendance and active participation are of central importance for this course to provide you with both a fun and satisfying educational experience. Good attendance, class preparation, and note-taking practices will be very important for your ability to perform well, particularly on exams and quizzes. You can also obtain extra credit by attending a talk or museum exhibit related to archaeology and submitting a two-page essay on the subject in your Discussion Section in accordance with the related guidelines.

Leacanabuaile Fort, Ireland

Required Texts

bullet Archaeology Essentials: Theories, Methods, and Practice, by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn (Thames & Hudson, 4th ed. 2018). This text is available at the University bookstores and can also be obtained from other vendors of your choosing.

bullet Other required or suggested readings may consist of short articles or text excerpts that provide additional information related to the subjects we are covering in our main textbook. These articles will be available online in the course web page on Compass.

Machu Picchu at the Field Museum

Class Meeting Times and Locations:

The class meets as an entire group on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00am to 11:50am in Room 1027 of Lincoln Hall. The smaller Discussion Sections meet for one hour at 10:00am and 11:00am on Fridays in Room 136 of Davenport Hall. Course Instructor: Chris Fennell, office in 296 Davenport Hall, cell phone (312) 513-2683; email Fennell's office hours (in-person or online) are on Wednesdays, 1:00pm to 3:00pm, or by appointment. Discussion Section Instructor: Emma Lee Verstraete, Verstraete's office hours via Zoom are on Wednesday and Thursday 1:00pm to 4:00pm; students can schedule a Zoom meeting with Verstraete at

Class Schedule and Readings:

Week 1 (Module 1).  Aug. 23, 25 & 27.    Overview & Introduction to Course
    Introductory comments and overview of structure of course.
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Preface.
    Discussion section, Aug. 27: Discussion section organizational meeting.

Week 2 (Module 2).  Aug. 30, Sept. 1 & 3.    History of the Discipline; Archaeology as Anthropology
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 1.
    Discussion section, Sept. 3: Time Team America: New Philadelphia.

Excavating a common house floor at the Cahokia site  projectile points, circa 600AD to 800AD

Labor Day break! Sept. 6.

Week 3 (Module 3).  Sept. 8 & 10.    Archaeological Data and Contexts
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 2.
    Discussion section, Sept. 10: Chronologies and Conundrums.

Week 4 (Module 4).  Sept. 13, 15 & 17.    Site Reconnaissance, Surveys & Excavations
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 3.
    Discussion section, Sept. 17: Archaeological Data Scavenger Hunt.

Week 5 (Module 5).  Sept. 20, 22 & 24.    Advances in Archaeological Survey Methods; Quiz 1
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 3 (cont'd).
    Discussion section, Sept. 24: Quiz 1.

Irish monastery  Cahokia mounds and woodhenge

Week 6 (Module 6).  Sept. 27 & 29, Oct. 1.    Dating and Chronologies
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 4.
    Discussion section, Oct. 1: Site Survey Interpretations.

Week 7 (Module 7).  Oct. 4, 6 & 8.    Archaeology of Social Complexity
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 5.
    Discussion section, Oct. 8: Artifact Analysis and Preservation.

Week 8 (Module 8).  Oct. 11, 13 & 15.    Past Environments
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 6.
    Discussion section, Oct. 15: Power, Prestige and Wealth: China's Terra Cotta Warriors.

Week 9 (Module 9).  Oct. 18, 20 & 22.    Subsistence and Diet; Midterm Exam
    Midterm Exam, Oct. 20.
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 6 (cont'd).
    Discussion section, Oct. 22: Past Environments, Faunal and Seasonality Analysis.

Week 10 (Module 10).  Oct. 25, 27 & 29.    Technologies
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 7.
    Discussion section, Oct. 29: Trade and Exchange.

great pyramid and sphinx at Giza
Parthenon, Athens

Week 11 (Module 11).  Nov. 1, 3 & 5.    Trade & Exchange
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 7 (cont'd).
    Discussion section, Nov. 5: Calculating Life Expectancies.

Week 12 (Module 12).  Nov. 8, 10 & 12.    Archaeology of People and Physiologies; Quiz 2
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 8.
    Discussion section, Nov. 12: Quiz 2.

Week 13 (Module 13).  Nov. 15, 17 & 19.    Ideology, Symbolism & Cognitive Approaches
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapter 9.
    Discussion section, Nov. 19: Burials and Social Statuses.

on the move image

Thanksgiving break! Nov. 20 to Nov. 28.

Week 14 (Module 14).  Nov. 29, Dec. 1 & 3.    Explanation and Interpretation in Archaeology
    Readings: Renfrew & Bahn Chapters 10 and 11.
    Discussion section, Dec. 3: Debates, Interpretations & Ethics; exam review.

Week 15 (Module 15).  Dec. 6 & 8.    Future of the Past & Who Owns the Past?