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Geoarchaeology

Preparations for geoelectric tomography in the ruined town of Gao-Chang, Turfan oasis, NW China

© Bertil Mächtle

 

Degree: Master of Science
Application required: access-restricted
Course commences: winter semester only
Standard course duration: 4 semesters
Format options: full-time only
Language requirements: English, one additional modern foreign language
Language of instruction: German
Other features: postgraduate / consecutive

 

Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences/Faculty of Philosophy

 

Course outline

The M.Sc. course in Geoarchaeology at Heidelberg University is interdisciplinary in nature, combining subject matter from Archaeology/Prehistory and Protohistory with instruction in Geography/Earth Sciences. The knowledge acquired in the previous B.Sc. course is deepened and the fundamentals of the subject that did not figure in the B.Sc. course are imparted to the students.

Proceeding from the topics you studied for the completion of your B.Sc. degree, you can largely be guided by your own interests in choosing your study emphases at M.Sc. level. The main focuses are analysis of environmental archives, geoarchaeological fieldwork and spatial research in a cultural studies context reflecting the latest developments in international research. Students are expected to achieve a high degree of self-determination and individualisation in bringing the course to a successful completion. A further aim is to help them attain professional qualifications both on the interdisciplinary plane, i.e.at the interface between the sciences and the humanities, and in the specialist, subject-specific skills required.

Field work and lab activity are closely connected with research projects (individual and concerted) at the Institute of Geography, the Institute of Earth Sciences, the Institute of Prehistory, Protohistory and Near Eastern Archaeology and the Institute of Classical Archaeology.

Course structure

Depending on the subject you have graduated in, you will study the consecutive, research-intensive M.Sc. course in Geoarchaeology in one of three curricula designed to avoid a mere rehash of knowledge acquired at B.Sc. level.

  1. choice of classes for M.Sc. students with a B.Sc. in Geography or Earth Sciences
  2. choice of classes for M.Sc. students with a B.A. in Prehistory and Protohistory or another fieldwork-intensive/object-oriented variety of Archaeology
  3. choice of classes for M.Sc. students with a Bachelor degree (joint programme) involving 50% of the course in Prehistory and Protohistory (or a comparable archaeology-related subject) and 50% in Geography and/or Earth Sciences.

The following is a tabular layout of the classes from which you can choose in assembling your curriculum for the Geoarchaeology course. They are designed to illustrate the broad scope of the offerings available.

Title of class
(grey=elective-compulsory)

module series „A“

module series „B“

module series „C“

lecture series (various lecturers)

A1

B1

C4

lecture: PPH*

A1

B5

C2, C5b

teaching excavation 3/6 weeks

A2

B3

C3

palynology & stable isotopes

A3a

B3b

C1a

archaeo-metallurgy

A3a

B2

C1a

dating procedures: young stones

A3a

B2

C1a

methods in trace-element analysis

A3b

B2

C1b

analytic methods

A3b

B3c

C1b

organic geochemistry

A3b

 

C1b

research group

A3c

B7

C5

field course: geography

A3d

B8f

C1c

advanced seminar: physical geography

A3e

 

C1d

lab practicals 2

A3f

 

C1e

geophysical methods

A3f

 

C1e

lecture: spec. topics in phys. geog.

A3g

 

C1f

reading seminar: geography

A3h

 

C1g

field practical (3/4 days)

A3i

B4

C1h

advanced seminar: handling sources

A4

B5

C2

day excursion (DE)

 

B5, B6

C3

main excursion (ME)

 

B6

C3

interdisciplinary module

A5

B9

C4

advanced seminar: PPH*

 

B7b

C5b

*  PPH = Prehistory and Protohistory

These classes are offered for all three curricula (A., B. and C.) and are supplemented by special-purpose classes taught in the individual module series only.

At the beginning of the M.Sc. course, the curriculum offers students (a) new content building on the Bachelor programme they have previously studied. At the same time they are given (b) a grounding in the subject that is new to them. In the second stage of the M.Sc. course, these fundamentals are then also studied in greater depth.

The “research group” component enables you to take active part in a joint interdisciplinary project on a topical research subject.

As geoarchaeology is predicated largely on fieldwork and analytic research, teaching excavations, field courses and lab practicals are very much part of the course. Accordingly, our strong recommendation is not to restrict your activities in this sector to the bare compulsory minimum, but to extend your experience and broaden your horizons by taking part in additional classes (e.g. on other topics).

The “interdisciplinary module” gives you an opportunity to follow your inclinations in selecting classes from the broad array of offerings provided by neighbouring subjects taught at the University.

For further information please visit the website of the M.Sc. course in Geoarchaeology.

Main research and teaching interests

Geographically, the Institutes involved in the course focus at present on southern Germany and the Alps, Slovakia (Vráble) and the eastern Mediterranean (Argolis, Santorin, Crete, etc.). Outside Europe, we have been pursuing our geoarchaeological investigations for many years in South America (e.g. on the Nazca civilisation in Peru), Central Asia (Turfan oasis, N.W. China) and East Asia (Xian, China). In historical terms, our research focuses on the Holocene period (with special emphasis on the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age) and on the Middle Ages.

In the analytic sector, the scientific methods that can be drawn upon in Heidelberg range from archaeo-metallurgy, geochemistry & petrology, GIS, isotope analysis and palynology to physical dating, sedimentology and pedology. On the archaeological side, you will find here not only firmly established archaeological methods and techniques (typology, stylistic analysis, combinatory statistics, etc.) but also a research perspective conditioned by cultural studies and focusing on human interaction with the environment regarded in terms of culturally conditioned responses and perceptions.

Out in the field, the standard methods of sample-taking (archaeological excavation, percussion core drilling) are supplemented by data acquisition via terrestrial laser scanning, geophysical prospecting (geoelectric methods, seismic refraction, geomagnetism) or mobile XRF. The list of approaches is rounded off by archaeological surveys and historical analysis of cartographic sources and written records.

Formal requirements

Admission

Access to the course is restricted. The current Admission Regulations are available here .

Prospective students from Germany
Prospective students from Germany can enrol without prior application at the Central University Administration building by the beginning of the lecture period. To matriculate, they are required to show a written statement of admission issued by the representative of the Master’s programme they wish to attend, confirming that the requirements set out in the Admission Regulations have been met. Please apply to the website of the M.Sc. course in Geoarchaeology for further information on how to proceed.

International prospective students
Verification of study credentials is normally time-consuming, accordingly prospective students from other countries are required to apply in writing. Application deadlines are 15 June for the winter semester, 15 November for the summer semester. Applications should be addressed directly to the Dezernat Internationale Beziehungen (International Relations Department). When applying, please use the application form for admission to the M.A. course and enclose the requisite documents.

Further information
Updated information on procedure

Study and examination regulations

Examination regulations M.Sc.

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook (see „More Information“).

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.

Fees

Heidelberg University tuition fees payable at the beginning of each semester.

Academic advisors

Susanne Prillwitz, M.A.
Studiengangskoordination Geoarchäologie
Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Vorderasiatische Archäologie
Sandgasse 7
D-69117 Heidelberg
phone: +49 (0)6221 542544
e-mail: susanne.prillwitz@zaw.uni-heidelberg.de
office hours: Tuesday, 4 pm - 6 pm or by appointment. Please register via e-mail.
 

Dr. Bertil Mächtle
Institute of Geography
Im Neuenheimer Feld 348, Office 119 (1st floor)
D-69120 Heidelberg
phone: +49 (0)6221 544577
e-mail: bertil.maechtle@geog.uni-heidelberg.de

Contact

Dr. Bertil Mächtle
Institute of Geography
Im Neuenheimer Feld 348
D-69120 Heidelberg
e-mail: bertil.maechtle@geog.uni-heidelberg.de
Location

Prof. Dr. Ulrich A. Glasmacher
Institute of Geography
Im Neuenheimer Feld 234-236
D-69120 Heidelberg
e-mail: ulrich.a.glasmacher@geow.uni-heidelberg.de
www.thermo-archaeo.uni-hd.de
Location

Prof. Dr. Thomas Meier
Institute of Prehistory and Protohistory and Near Eastern Archaeology
Sandgasse 7
D-69117 Heidelberg
e-mail: thomas.meier@zaw.uni-heidelberg.de
Location

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Latest Revision: 2017-11-08
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