ARK2120 – Hunters, Gatherers, early Farmers and Stone age Technology

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Course content

The course provides a general understanding of Stone Age technologies, concentrating but not exclusively limited to lithic (stone) technology. The curriculum places the manufacture and use of lithic artefacts in relation to the social and evolutionary contexts of hunters and gatherers. The course will also concentrate on developing a more general understanding of technology from an evolutionary standpoint, and the role of technological innovations have had in shaping human societies.

In close combination with knowledge obtained from practical lithic exercises and classroom instruction, you will learn:

  • the biological and social bases for the development of human technology.
  • how technological knowledge was and is culturally transmitted.
  • how lithic tools were manufactured at various points in the past.
  • how lithic tools were used and what they represent in the scheme of human survival strategies.
  • why technologies change - the cultural and social contexts of these changes.

You will also learn to:

  • identify and create lithic material.
  • recognise the main stages of lithic production.
  • recognise the various types of raw material types used in the manufacture of stone tools.
  • situate knowledge of technological traditions into broader models of social change and human evolution.

Instruction regarding the essential attributes of flakes, blades, knapping debris, cores and various tool types will be emphasised. You will also receive content on other forms of human technology such as fire, art, boats and organic materials, which have been critical human technologies for hundreds of thousands of years.

This course has a very prominent practical component where you will put into operation what you have learned in the lectures. In the laboratories prepared bags of selected materials and accompanying work sheets will be distributed. Seminars are meant to be informal and invoke lively discussions of the selected material, the associated technologies and their social links. Fundamentally, this course challenges students to understand the basis of modern society as an extension of human environmental adaptation and modification in the past, and how deeply coded and important the human technological brain is.

Learning outcome

In this course you will:

  • Learn to recognise relationships between humans and their physical and technological environments beginning 3-million years ago and to the point where farming subsistence economies emerge around the world.
  • Achieve basic knowledge about lithic technology, terminology and classification. Through the use of the chaîne opératoire approach and dynamic-technological analysis, which forms the basis of learning in this course, you will learn to recognize the main stages of production and to identify types of raw material used in the manufacture of artefacts.
  • Understand how and what we can learn from technological studies – its potential for knowledge about Stone Age life, society and cultural development. Learn how to relate the use of objects to their cultural context. You will develop a thorough understanding of the various stages in lithic technology and technology’s place within the wider society.
  • Obtain the relevant skills to scientifically study museum collections from any stone raw material using period worldwide and draw valid and defendable conclusions as to production and wider social aspects of manufacture and use of that assemblage.
  • Be able to draw valid conclusions about production and the wider social aspects of manufacture and use of technology.
  • Knowledge about the main trajectories in the Palaeolithic periods of Africa, Eurasia and the Americas with a special focus on the Scandinavian Stone Age, including its technological development and social and environmental background. 


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

ARK1000 – Innføring i arkeologi and ARK1010 – Europeisk forhistorie fra paleolitikum til bronsealder or other introductory level courses in archaeology is recommended before taking this course.


There will be 9 seminars and four lab sessions (held at KHM Økern).

It is compulsory to attend the lab sessions, because they are necessary to pass to qualifier.

This is how you apply for a valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance: Absence from compulsory Activity/attendance.


The students must pass a qualifier based on the lab sessions. The qualifier must be approved before the students submit their final essay.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The final examination is an independent essay on a related topic

  • The length of your paper should be approximately 5 pages. We consider a standard page to be 2300 characters without spacing.
  • You must use a minimum of 10 assigned readings from the pensum to support your argument. A standard citation format will be provided for you to follow.
  • Do not write your name in your exam (term paper). Use your candidate number. It is a four digit number which you will find next to your exam registration in StudentWeb. You are given a unique candidate number for each exam.
  • The paper should have a front page stating your candidate number, the course code and name, and the semester and year.
  • The front page, bibliography and footnotes are not included in the page count.
  • Please remember to insert page numbers.
  • The students are responsible for their upload. Unreadable or unfinished documents will be graded thereafter.

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Grade descriptions

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course

Every spring
Every spring
Teaching language