Project Title :
Establishment of A Master Degree in Archaeological Science at Yarmouk University, Jordan

 Project Objective:
  • Specific objectives:
    • To establish a new Masters program in Archaeological Science.
    • To establish training program in Archaeological Science.
    • To build the capacity of the faculty members.
    • To disseminate and share the learning experience and knowledge with other concerned universities in Jordan.
  • General objectives and aims:
    • The main objective of this project is the establishement of teaching and training programmes in chemical and physical methods in archaeology, usually referred to as archaeological science. Archaeological science uses geological, biological, physical and chemical techniques to investigate all periods of human history and prehistory. It is a multi-disciplinary subject which integrates scientific methods with social interpretation. Many new techniques and methods are being developed, such as DNA, isotope and pottery residue analysis, which are opening up entirely new avenues of investigation and providing new knowledge about the ancient past. The program is intended for graduate students with a strong interest in archaeology and with proper backgrounds in the physical sciences.


    • In the future, most of the major discoveries in archaeology will be made in the laboratory. There is an exciting array of new technologies and procedures for learning about human behavior and activity in the past. It is rapidly becoming possible to use elemental and isotopic traces in both organic and inorganic remains to identify a variety of materials preserved from the past, to say where they came from, and to discuss how they were produced. It is also becoming possible to measure a variety of signals in prehistoric human bone to investigate questions such as past diet, diseases and changes in settlement patterns.
 Basic assumptions of the project:-  This project assumes that the following statements of fact are an accurate base on which one can make judgments about the future of archaeology:
  • The archaeological record as we know it is vanishing; hence doing archaeology in the 21st century can be expected to be different from doing archaeology in the 20th century.
  • Excavation archaeology is destructive of our vanishing cultural resource base, hence non-destructive methods and analyses must be pursued wherever and whenever possible.
  • In order to explain cultural and social change, archaeologists observe, measure and analyze cultural and environmental remains, hence (as a very minimum) archaeology students must learn to observe, measure, and analyze all the relevant evidence.
  • Archaeology is not a discipline with a single set of related paradigms, but rather is a multidisciplinary amalgam requiring concepts and methodologies from a host of separate disciplines, such as anthropology, ecology, geology, geography, art history, economics, and osteology.
  • Archaeometry will play an ever increasing role in the analysis and interpretation of archaeological remains. These statements of fact form a strong base for the essentiality for introducing an academic program in this very important field of study.
 Philosphy of the programme:-  
  • The proposed teaching and training programmes in archaeological science will be designed to cover a variety of analytical laboratory methods used in archaeology for dating, identification, characterization, and investigation of bone, pottery, stone, soil, and other materials. The proposed programmes will include both lecture and lab activities. Approximately one-third of the programmes will be lectures and the remainder will involve hands-on lab work.
  • The proposed programmes will be truly multi-disciplinary that integrate scientific methods with social interpretation. Many new techniques and methods will be covered such as DNA, isotope and pottery residue analysis, which are opening up entirely new avenues of investigation and providing new knowledge about the ancient past.
  • The programme will be designed to give graduates systematic training in the application of modern scientific methods in archaeology and is appropriate for students with either humanities or science based academic background. It combines introductions to scientific principles and practices with a wide choice of specialist modules, including practical experience in the extensive suite of laboratories.
  • The program will provide the necessary practical, analytical and interpretative skills to apply a wide range of specialist approaches in archaeology. The special features of this course are the wide range of option choices, allowing students to tailor the course to their own objectives and hands-on experience in the laboratories. This will hopefully provides the graduates an excellent foundation from which to pursue further research or to enter relevant employment.
 The aim of the programme:-  
  • The aim of the teaching programme is to produce archaeological scientists who understand the scientific methods and also are aware of the social and interpretive issues involved in archaeological investigation. The MSc in Archaeological Science will be designed to give graduates a systematic training in the application of modern scientific methods in archaeology. It will provide the necessary practical, analytical and interpretative skills to apply a wide range of specialist approaches in archaeology.
  • The program aims to prepare students not only for research in archaeological science, but also to further career prospects in all areas of mainstream archaeology. The course will be well-suited both to students who wish to use it as a foundation from which to commence research or as vocational training to enhance employment prospects in archaeology.
  • Central to the mission of the Graduate Program in archaeological science is to provide students with:
    • strong theoretical training.
    • access and hands-on training on state of the art instrumentation.
    • exposure to an innovative and highly interdisciplinary environment that combines theory and the use of analytical techniques to solve problems central to the understanding of the physical, life and social sciences.
 Academic programme structure and academic content:-  
  • The proposed academic programme will follow the Masters degree requirement structure adopted at Yarmouk University. This consists of a series of compulsory courses (15 credit hours) and a selection of elective courses (9 credit hours). In addition, a thesis reserch project (9 credit hours) is required.
  • Given the multidisciplinary nature of the proposed academic programme, it is necessary to provide basic knowledge of the various components of archaeometric study as well as detailed training in one facet of this array. Therefore, the selection of courses which the student will study can be divided into a series of modules. At least one course in each module will be part of the compulsory course list, while the remainder will belong to the elective course list. Each student will need to deveop his/her own academic programme (in consultation with their advisor) to suit their line of interest and their academic background. The academic programme will be designed to include the following course modules as described below.
  • The general archaeology module: This will be designed specifically for students with little or no archaeology background, and will include courses in the theory and methods of archaeology, as well as courses in specific time periods or civilizations. The Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology already offers a rich selection of courses in this regard which can be incorporated in the programme.
  • The physical and chemical techniques module: This will cover the theory and application of the various analytical tools used by archaeometrists. This may include courses in the use of optical techniques (microscopy), mineralogical, chemical, and physical analytical techniques both from theoretical angles and from applied ones.
  • Experimental archaeology and ancient technology module: This will allow the student to appreciate the difficulties and challenges which faced ancient man working on the manufacture of pottery, metal, glass and stone materials. Courses will be offered outlining the evolution of technologies related to the various material culture which is studied in archaeology. Experimental archaeology is a fundimental component in the proposed academic programme because it will allow students to better interepret the results of their laboratory measurements.
  • Chronology module: This module will cover dating of archaeological sites and artifacts using various scientific approaches, mainly radiometeric techniques. The module will be designed to teach students the important absolute dating techniques such as dendrochronology and the various absloute dating techniques (radiocarbon, thermoluminescence-optically simulated luminescence, potassium-argon dating) among others.
  • Geophysics module This will allow the students the opportunity to learn non-destructive techniques used in the surveying and locating of potential archaeological sites. This module will teach the students the theoretical principles and applications of ground penetrating radar, very low frequency geoelectrical induction, resistivity, magnetic and seismic and their applications in the siting of archaelogical points of interest and the determination of the subsurface structures present prior to excavation.
  • Computer and Information technology module: Aspects of archaeological sites will be studied using various remote sensing techniques as well as modern field surveying methods and equipment, global positioning systems (GPS), geographic information systems (GIS), photogrammetry, and computer-aided design (Auto-CAD). This module will also cover modern documentation techniques, stastical analysis and database management.
  • Environmental archaeology module: The interaction between man and his environment will be the focus of this module. The module will be devoted to the techniques used in the study of the ancient environmental contexts in which humans lived. Sedimentological, isotopic and biological techniques are commonly used in this type of investigation, and these will be taught within the context of this module. Pleistocene and Holocene envirnomental variations at global and local scales will also be important components.
 Vocational training programme:-  

The vocational training programme will consist of a series of especially designed short and intensive courses aimed at cultural heritage specialists who wish to enhance their abilities and knowledge in various aspects of archaeometric science. Thus, the training programme will be a balance between theoretical principles and hands-on applications in the different subjects related to archaeometric research.

Intensive short (2-4 weeks) courses in the following subjects will be developed and offered to professionals already involved in archaeolgy. This will include museum technicians, museum curators, department of antiquities and ministry of tourism employees as well as any other interested professionals.

 The courses to be developed and offered will cover the following subjects:-
  • Provenance analysis of archaeological materials. This will provide theoretical and practical training in the use of various types of scientific techniques (petrographic analysis, mineralogical analysis, X-ray diffraction) to determine geographic sources of various types of archaeological material such as stone, marble, pottery and metal artifacts.
  • Remote sensing, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and geophysical surveying. The purpose will be to train the target group to use non-destructive surveying techniques for determination and documentation of locations of buried archaeological features and materials. These will include the use of areal and satellite images, field surveys using geophysical techniques such as ground penetrating radar, resistivity and magnetic surveying techniques.
  • Dating. This will include training on the use of thermoluminescence to determine absolute dates for pottery and burnt flint tools. This technique will also help in determining the authenticity of these types of artifacts. The course will include theoretical background and applied excercises.
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This course will introduce the students to the basic uses of GIS as well as application of GIS in archaeological research, such as predictive modelling, settlement patterns, and ecosystem studies as well for the presentation of sites for managers.
 Indicators of program:-  
  • University adopts the new Masters course in Archaeological science.
  • Higher Education Council accredits new Masters Program.
  • University approves the training course in Archaeological science.
  • New teaching techniques adopted by faculty members.