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Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology

Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology



Dr Preston Miracle


The Course

This course provides a foundation in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology. We start with the emergence of the first evidence of hominin material culture 2.5 million years ago. We then move on to the evolution, adaptations, and dispersals of hominins in Africa and into the rest of the Old World. We examine in detail the emergence and dispersal of anatomically modern humans, giving particular focus on the diversity of their cultures and adaptations in different parts of the Old World. We will finish with how people made sense of and responded to the dramatic environmental changes that occurred leading up to the end of the last ice age 11,500 years ago.  Students will be expected to acquire a good foundation in Early Prehisotric archaeology, including theoretical approaches to the subject, methods of analysis, material culture, and the different hominin species that created this record.


The Theme

  • Initial hominin colonization of Eurasia
  • Palaeolithic Transitions

  • Palaeolithic “Art”
  • The Peopling of the Americas
  • Archaeological signatures of dispersal and contact
  • Continuity and change after the Ice Age


The Structure

The structure of this MPhil follows the structure of the MPhil in Archaeology. For their three modules, students take:

  • Core Archaeology (G02), a seminar-based module shared with most other MPhil in Archaeology students, which reviews fundamental concepts in archaeological theory and practice and provides a shared basis for approaching archaeology. This module is assessed through an unseen examination (67%) and an essay of not more than 3000 words length (33%).
  • Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology (G03). This course provides a foundation and introduce students to selected topics in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology. This module is lecture-based, but also includes seminars, practical sessions, and small-group discussions. The module is assessed through an unseen examination (67%) and an essay of not more than 3000 words length (33%).
  • Any additional module(s) from among the other modules taught within the Department of Archaeology, subject to the instructor's consent and the approval of the MPhil in Archaeology co-ordinator. This allows the student to take a wide range of modules, including methodological courses in archaeological techniques and analyses, other area or period based courses, and thematic courses in museums and heritage: see here for complete list of modules offered in the MPhil in Archaeology.

In addition, students take the Research Skills module and write a 15,000 word dissertation on a topic in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology.


For further information, contact Dr Preston Miracle, co-ordinator for this option.