ARK4120 – Hunters, Gatherers, early Farmers and Stone Age Technology

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

The course provides a general understanding of Stone Age technologies, concentrating on lithic (stone) and pottery technology and seeks to place the manufacture and use of lithic artefacts and pots in relation to the social contexts of hunters and gatherers and early farmers. The course will also concentrate on a more general understanding of technology, and the role of technological innovations for human societies

In close combination with knowledge obtained from the ethnographic record and from ethnoarchaeological accounts from various parts of the world, you will learn:

  • how lithic specimens were manufactured
  • how lithic specimens were used
  • why we find such an abundance of certain categories of artefacts on Stone Age sites
  • how pottery was manufactured and used
  • how technological knowledge was transmitted
  • how technological innovations contributed to social and cultural change

You will also learn to:

  • identify humanly struck lithic material
  • recognize the main stages of lithic production
  • identify the various types of raw material types used in the manufacture of stone tools
  • recognize the main stages of pottery production
  • implement our knowledge of technological traditions into broader models of social change

Instruction regarding the essential attributes of flakes, blades, knapping debris, cores and various tool types will be emphasized, as will technological traits of pottery technology.

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. These weekly meetings are meant to be informal and a lively discussion of the selected material, the technology and its social links is encouraged.

Learning outcome

In this course you will:

  • Learn the most important aspects of lithic and pottery technology. Through the use of the chaîne opératoire approach, the French method 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.
  • Learn how to relate the use of objects to their social context. You will develop a thorough understanding of the various stages in lithic and pottery technology and technology’s place within the wider society.
  • Obtain the relevant skills to scientifically study museum collections from any stone or 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 Objects.


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.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

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

The course is available to all students accepted to Arkeologi og konservering (master - to år).


10 lectures and 6 practical laboratory assignments (based on 6 of the lectures).

It is compulsory to attend both the general lectures as well as the weekly labs. Any absence must be documented.

The students have to submit 6 practical assignments during the course (obligatory). Each assignment shall be subject to the approval of the subject teacher and needs to be approved before the students submit their final essay.

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

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.


Each student writes a 10 page essay (+/- 10%) on a related topic. At this level there will be higher expectations and requirements for linking technology and the cultural connections and ramifications than on BA-Level. Each page should have about 2300 keystrokes without Space.

The essay should have a front page with the following information: Candidate number (no name), course code, essay title (assignment), department and semester.

Hand-in procedures: The essay is only to be uploaded in Inspera, no printed version is needed. The file must be in pdf-format. The candidate number should be on every page as top text. You will find the candidate number in Studentweb.

The students are responsible for their upload. Unreadable or unfinished documents will be graded thereafter.

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.

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.

Students can request a clarification of their assigned grade within a week of receiving their grade. The request for clarification is to be sent to This message must contain a return email address and telephone number. The examiner can choose to deliver the clarification for the assigned grade either in writing or orally.

Fagspesifikke karakterbeskrivelser

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