English courses

Courses taught continuously

Winter semester

This course introduces the origins and evolution of metallurgy up to the medieval times. It covers the archaeologically most important metals (gold, silver, copper, bronze, tin, lead, iron, steel) and addresses extractive metallurgy, production and manufacturing techniques, from the mine to the finished artefact. Part of this course will be focused on explanation of analytical techniques and methods used in study of archaeological metals, including basic and trace elements composition analysis, isotopes analysis, metallographic methods, etc. Case studies are presented from research projects of the lecturer, integrating metallurgy within wider social and economic contexts and archaeological questions.

The aims of this course are to give students a fundamental understanding of the development and spread of mining and metallurgy within their geological and archaeological contexts from the beginning up to the medieval times. Through selected case studies, students will be acquainted with the methodology of archaeometallurgical research and currently used analytical methods, their principles and possibilities of their application in studying archaeological metals.

The course maps basic variability of technological sequences of pottery manufacture in preindustrial societies. The overview is based on ethnographic, etnoarchaeological, and archaeological evidence. All the basic steps in pottery manufacture are exposed: techniques of prospection of ceramic raw materials, preparation of pottery pastes, forming, surface treatments and decoration, drying and firing, and post-firing treatments. The course is intended for students of archaeology, thus special attention is paid to the possible archaeological evidence for pottery technology and to the methodology for identification of pottery technology based on archaeological ceramics. The introduction to the methodology covers all types of analytical techniques: macroscopic analysis, optical and other types of microscopy, instrumental techniques and experimental approach to study of pottery technology.

Summer semester

The course aims at providing the students with an overview of the material traces of the deep cultural and socio-economic transformations occurred in Western European landscapes between the disarticulation of the Roman empire and the rising of the Carolingian one. In order to do so, selected examples of archaeological remains from public and private, religious and secular spaces and buildings in France, Italy, Spain and the neighboring regions will be presented and discussed. Special attention will be devoted to overarching topics, supra-regional phenomena and to the connections between the Mediterranean basin and Central Europe.
By the end of the course, students are expected to be familiar with the main archaeological sites and features of the 5th-8th centuries, to have a good knowledge of the current research problems and to be aware of a number of transdisciplinary approaches to complex issues.
The lectures will consist in an introduction to the topic by the lecturer (70-75 minutes), followed by 15-20 minutes of participative discussion, questions and remarks by the students.
Students are expected to attend regularly the lectures. To complete the course, they must prepare a short individual presentation (15 minutes).

Main themes: 1) What, when and where: Late Antiquity, Migration Period, Early Middle Ages, post-Classical period. The Roman heritage: communication routes and infrastructures, 2) Cities, 3) Landscape and countryside, 4) Military and elevated sites, 5) Religious architecture, 6) Cemeteries, 7) Demographic issues, 8) Economy, trade and consumption, 9) Clothing, fashion and visual appearance, 10) “Barbarians” and “post-Barbarians” in the West.

The course is aimed at understanding the basic principles of experimental methods and defining their specifics when applied within archeology. The principles of designing experimental projects will be explained in detail. Students will then prepare their own proposals of experimental projects and present them during the seminars.

Occasional courses

Planned for the summer semester 2021

The aim of the course is to apprehend to quantitatively express and process the information about the shape of archaeological artefacts. Students will be familiarised with the traditional and modern geometric morphometrics methods (2D/3D landmark analysis, analyses of open or closed contours, etc.). An essential part of the course will be devoted to the recent shape acquisition techniques (3D scanning, photogrammetry, etc.), followed the statistical treatment of the morphometric data. At the end of the course, students should be able to choose an appropriate method to solve variety of archaeological questions concerning various artefact productions (stone, ceramic, metal), dated to diverse chronological periods.

Main themes:

1. Introduction to morphometrics. Brief introduction to methods of traditional and modern geometric morphometrics methods.
2. Acquisition techniques. Recent and most useful methods for 2D and 3D object shape acquisition with real-world examples.
3. Automatic drawings of archaeological artefacts. Methods and tools for (semi-)automatic drawing of archaeological artefacts.
4. Applications of statistics and morphometrics. Brief overview of statistics. Statistics used for shape information treatment.
5. 2D landmark analyses I – theory. Analyses of landmarks and semi-landmarks. Case study of ceramics, Roman coins, Palaeolithic arrows, and Second Iron age Brooches.
6. 2D landmark analyses II – practice. Exercises.
7. 3D landmark analyses I – theory. New 3D ICP-based methods of shape analysis. Case study of Bronze Age Ingots.
8. 3D landmark analyses II practice. Exercises.
9. Outline analyses and other morphometric methods – theory. Analyses of open and closed outlines. Case study of Bronze Age Palstaves and Flanged Axes, case study of the Second Iron Age ceramics.
10. Outline analyses and other morphometric methods – practice. Exercises.

Taught in previous semesters

Summer semester 2020

Compared to the “disproportionately high demand” for building-stone in the 1st-3rd centuries (B. Russell), the Early Medieval market for lithic materials (construction blocks, architectural elements, architectural sculpted decoration) surely appears as much reduced. Some (relatively recent) scholarly attempts to attribute these facts to a decline in civilization have been decidedly rejected by a number of academics. However, despite the existence of many valuable handbooks on Early Medieval architecture, and despite the fact that in most pre-industrial societies building was the single most important non-agrarian economic activity (W. Jongman), general studies dealing with the economics of sculpting- and construction-stone in the Early Medieval West were almost totally lacking until recently (Beghelli 2018). Yet an approach that considers the economic and social context of building activities (over the longue durée, in a vast geographic area, and with a multidisciplinary perspective) is crucial to the understanding of architecture. The main aim of the course will be following the gradual transformations occurred in this field (and analyze aspects of continuity or change) from the Roman age to the Early Middle Ages. Far from being expression of cultural decay, Early Medieval architecture, and the sculptural decoration of buildings, even show intelligent innovations in the procurement and uses of stone and the organization of sculpting and construction workshops – strategies which, in some cases, would last for many centuries to come. The students, who are expected to attend regularly the lectures, will be encouraged at discussing and asking questions during the last part of every meeting, after a 45 minutes presentation by the lecturer. The final exam will consist in an individual presentation prepared by students (max. 15 minutes) on a topic previously agreed with the lecturer.

Main themes:

1. Architecture, types of buildings and the market for stone products in the West and
the East (1st-7th c.).
2. Introduction. Architecture, types of buildings and the market for stone products in the West (7th-
9th c.).
3.-5. The Early Medieval West: new constructions, maintenance and restorations of buildings and
infrastructures. Overview of the main monuments in stone.
6. Provenance and transport of stone for architecture. 7. Procurement of stone: quarrying, reuse of materials from ancient buildings and related specific
techniques.
8.-10. Skilled and unskilled workforce, travelling and sedentary construction craftspeople, wages
and social status. Travelling in the Early Middle Ages: distances covered by the artisans, means of
transport, hospitality (eating and sleeping on the way to the building site). Mobility of craftsmen:
diffusion of building- and sculpting-techniques, transfer of artisanal knowledge, forms and fashions
in architecture and architectural sculpture. A debated case in archaeology: transfer of techniques
within Islamic and Christian Iberian Peninsula.
11-12. How to recognize archaeologically the production of a sculpting workshop in different
locations (case study: a French-Italian atelier, late 8th c.).
13. Conclusive overview

All over Europe, and especially in the past three decades, archaeology of production and archaeometry have achieved remarkable results in analyzing the manufacturing techniques of diverse types of items dating back to the Early Middle Ages. These valuable studies, however, often concern just one class of object (in metal, glass, stone, leather, etc.), whose production is frequently examined under a regional perspective. The aim of the course is approaching Early Medieval crafts in Europe with a comparative perspective, assessing similarities and differences in the workshops organization, level of mobility of the craftsmen, channels and extent of distribution of the products, ways of procurements of raw materials, manufacturing processes, production-consumption models, etc.. Also central to the course will be the analysis of the social position of artisans operating in different fields. The students, who are expected to attend regularly the lectures, will be encouraged at discussing and asking questions during the last part of every meeting, after a 45 minutes presentation by the lecturer. The final exam will consist in an individual presentation prepared by the students (max. 15 minutes) on a topic previously agreed with the lecturer.

1. Introduction. Early Medieval goods and their production centres: archaeology of production,
archaeometry. Early Medieval VS Roman economy.
2.-5. Masters who travelled. Temporary mobility and permanent change of residence: construction
craftspeople, shipbuilders, goldsmiths and other skilled artisans.
6.-7. Goods that travelled: sedentary artisans and ‘serial production’. The example of bronze
vessels, Merovingian sarcophagi, millstones, soapstone and some jewellery items.
8. Seasonal manufacture, non-specialized craftsmen, everyday items and regional productions.
9.-10. Archaeological study of workshops and Early Medieval workshop organization. Internal
hierarchy, procurement of raw materials, local resources, imports and reuse.
11. The craftsmen and their ‘brands’: selling strategies and signatures on the objects (sculptures,
metal items, weapons).
12.-13. The social status of artisans: wealthy to middle-class freemen, seasonal craftsmen-
farmers, servants and slaves. Women and crafts: some examples (female master-builders, nuns-
illuminators and scribes, aristocratic ladies as patrons and building-site managers).

The aim of this course is to present and discuss new discoveries and current research topics in the Iron Age archaeology in the European context. Students will be introduced into the issues linked with the emergence of European archaeological/cultural entities, throughout their social and economic development and long-distance relations, until their final destabilisation and/or transformations. The main part of the course will deal with issues linked with the complexity and biases of existing methodological approaches of funerary and settlement areas and point out to some new methodologies and perspectives of their application for the modern archaeological inquiries. This theoretical background will be complemented by the presentation of several recent case-studies intended to investigate the problematics.

Main Themes:

1. Introduction. Characterization of Iron Age in the European context.
2. Ethnicity, dogma and politics. The role of archaeology, history and politics on the comprehension of the European Iron Age.
3. Inventions in Iron Age. Inventions in the material production.
4. Art, crafts and beauty in Iron Age.
5. Life in Iron Age. Villages, hillforts, oppida and production centres new investigations.
6. Death in Iron Age I. Testimonies and transformations of funerary areas.
7. Death in Iron Age II. Testimonies and transformations of funerary areas.
8. Cult in Iron Age. Testimonies of cult and religious practices in Iron Age.
9. Time of war. Testimonies of war and conflicts in Iron Age.
10. Inside and outside. Contacts, trade, and the civilization of the Mediterranean.

Winter semester 2019

A survey of main views on the significance of European Mid-Mountains for prehistoric groups will be presented. Former proposals of exclusion of these terrains from the ecumena will also be a matter. It will confront special character of archaeological sources, settlement-geographical observation, etnographic and paleobotanical evidences. The lectures will also stress a bid of recognition of these terrains as a domain of seasonal moving of groups. Particular attention will be paid to the mysterious presence of Neolithic traces in the European Mid-Mountains.

Students will receive skills for the conducting archaeological research in mountain areas. They should get acquainted with examples from different mountains, which will show the specificity of the mountain sources and various interpretation proposals. They will be able to learn the possibilities of auxiliary sciences, especially palaeobotany, in interpreting the phenomenon of settlement in the highland.

The area of today’s Poland in the Vistula and Odra basin is relatively rich in Paleolithic traces. This is due to several factors. First of all, there are deposits of good quality silica rocks, secondly, a large part of this area is occupied by loess areas where paleolithic traces have been preserved in the stratigraphic sequence; thirdly, in a certain area (Jura Kraków-Częstochowa) there are many caves as places especially important for the Paleolithic hunter and exceptional for contemporary researchers due to the faunistic context of the cultural threads. The beginnings of Paleolithic archeology in the Polish lands date back to the nineteenth century, and thus the beginning of archeology as a science. During the lectures will be shown the crucial discoveries of the Neandertals and early Homo sapiens in today’s Poland in reference to the general knowledge of the European Paleolithic – taxonomy, chronology, cultural relations and lithic technology.

Students will receive the basis for orientation on the most important achievements in the field of Paleolithic in the Odra and Vistula river basins with reference to the main European technocomplexes representing the culture of Neandertal and early Homo sapiens. They will gain theoretical knowledge on the taxonomy and typology of stone tools of the older Stone Age, as well as the procedures for carrying out excavation works on sites representing the Pleistocene.

Summer semester 2019

The course aims at presenting the main results of archaeological research dealing with the 5th-8th centuries in Western Europe. To do so, it will focus upon selected overarching topics which illustrate the main cultural transformations experienced by Western European peoples in that period. Long-lived theoretical approaches will be discussed alongside the results of the newer ones; problems related to transdisciplinary studies on past societies will be examined as well.
The lessons are expected to consist in a 30-35 minute introduction to the topic by the teacher, followed by 10-15 minutes of participative discussion, questions and remarks by the students. Fundamental themes are: 1) Trade, production, consumption, 2) Demographic issues, 3) Everyday life, 4) Clothing, fashion and visual appearance, 5) “Barbarians” and “post-Barbarians” in the West, 6) Places of power, and 7) Inner and outer boundaries.

The course aims at providing the students with an overview of the material traces of the deep cultural and socio-economic transformations occurred in Western European landscapes between the disarticulation of the Roman empire and the rising of the Carolingian one. In order to do so, selected examples of archaeological remains from public and private, religious and secular spaces and buildings in France, Italy and Spain will be presented and discussed.
The lessons will consist in a 30-35 minute introduction to the topic by the teacher, followed by 10-15 minutes of participative discussion, questions and remarks by the students.

Main themes: 1) Geography, communication routes and infrastructures, 2) Cities, 3) Landscape and countryside, 4) Military sites, 5) Residential architecture, 6) Religious architecture, 7) Cemeteries.

Winter semester 2018

The course has two connected goals. The first is to familiarize students with the history and theory of North American anthropological archaeology and the application of this theoretical approach to the study of human prehistory (and history). Theoretical foundations underlying research are fundamentally important, but often appear so obvious that students are unaware how their theoretical approach influences them, their selection of research topics, neglect of others, and how they are accustomed to seek certain kinds of explanations and ignore alternative ones. The history and theoretical approaches of archaeology in Europe and in North America are distinct, and a comparison between them gives students a critical perspective on both approaches and the opportunity to select the best of each.
The second goal is to familiarize students with some of the most fundamental developments in North American prehistory and with the application of an anthropological archaeological approach to research on these topics. Fundamental themes are: 1) the dating and mode of colonization by the first human populations in America, 2) the lifeways of the first populations, 3) the evolution of agriculture in North America, and 4) the evolution of sociopolitical organization and the origins of social hierarchy. These developments in America have worldwide parallels, and students will learn a comparative anthropological approach to these prehistoric developments.

This course will examine the idea of race in historical and anthropological perspective. We will consider the interpretation of racial differences in l8th and l9th century Europe and America as well as 20th century anthropological critiques of the concept of race that argue that races are cultural constructs with little connection to biological variation. How did the idea of “natural” races arise, and how and why, despite key scientific flaws, does it persist? We will examine how racial categories have changed from one geographical region to another and through time and how these categories are used in biomedical research today. We will consider some aspects of biological variation (such as skeletal anatomy, skin color, abnormal hemoglobins, body proportions) that do vary geographically and begin to understand how the distributions of these biological characteristics do or do not correlate with one another. We will explore how modern understandings of biological variation become intertwined with race and how social and economic conditions associated with racial categories can affect health and well-being. Students will finish the course with an understanding of how human biological variation and diversity have been characterized in the past, how an anthropological critique of race creates a new way of understanding both cultural categories of people and human biological variation and how social and cultural categories of race have significance for human health and well-being.

Summer semester 2018

Students should gain basic knowledge of the most important Iron Age key sites in Austria, they should learn about important themes of cultural history and they should get familiar with recent trends in theory and methodology as exemplified by Iron Age research in Austria.

Theoretical part: methodology and research questions regarding the reconstruction of prehistoric buildings, terminology of prehistoric architecture and timber constructions, documentation techniques, the history of research of house reconstructions; Case studies: archaeological open air museums in Austria, reconstruction of Early Neolithic long houses, Bronze Age post buildings, reconstruction of Iron Age sunken dwellings and buildings with foundation ditches.