NNMK17006U Archaeological Science in the Post-Genome Era

Volume 2016/2017

This intensive two-week summer course will provide students with a broad but detailed introduction to the theory as well as practical application of scientific methods in archaeology. It focuses particularly on biomolecular applications, including stable isotope, residue and ancient DNA analysis. The course is composed of a series of lectures, covering a wide range of topics, including past human demography and health, past diets and mobility, and the spread and evolution of pathogens. These themes will be explored in a series of interactive sessions, integrating methods and data sets from a wide range of disciplines. The aim of the course is to provide participants with a broad grasp of scientific applications in archaeology in the post-genome era

Learning Outcome


By the end of the course, you will:

  • have gained basic knowledge of human skeletal anatomy and the methods used for recording and analyzing human skeletal remains;

  • have gained an understanding of taphonomic processes and their effects on the physical and molecular preservation of skeletal remains;

  • have acquired a basic understanding of scientific methods used for palaeodietary reconstruction, including residue and stable isotope analysis;

  • have grasped the potential of ancient biomolecules research for studying evolutionary processes and testing specific hypotheses relating to the human past;


By the end of the course, you will:

  • have acquired basic skills in recording and analyzing human skeletal remains;

  • have learned to differentiate the effects of taphonomic and disease processes or trauma and physical activity in the skeleton;

  • have acquired basic skills in how to analyze high-throughput sequencing data sets;



By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • know how to select, conserve and take samples for biomolecular investigations;

  • assess conflicting theories and data sets and critically evaluate past studies;

  • recognise the methodological strengths and limitations of various techniques;

  • be able to recommend applications where biomolecular analysis is likely to be useful;

Literature will be provided prior to the start of the course alongside the course compendium.

Applicants should have a bachelor degree in archaeology, biology, chemistry, geology or a related field.
Lectures, exercises, group work and excursions.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exam
  • 18
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • Exercises
  • 42
  • Lectures
  • 48
  • Preparation
  • 90
  • Total
  • 206
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 24 hours
On the last day of the course, students will be given the title of a set essay, of 5-6 pages in length, to be written in English and to be submitted within 24 hours as a take home assignment.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Students will be given another take-home assignments in the form of an essay to be submitted within 24 hrs.

Criteria for exam assesment

See learning outcome.