“The Archaeology of Space and Place”

This course explores the role of built environments – from single rooms to urban landscapes – in past societies. Through participation in a series of lectures, seminar discussions, “hands-on” labs, and two research projects, students will come away with an understanding of contemporary (and past) approaches that archaeologists use to understand buildings, settlements and built landscapes. We’ll examine theories linking prehistoric and historic built environments to human and material agency, daily practice, power, identity and social reproduction, as well as concepts such as place, house and household, community and neighbourhood, cityscape, monumentality and memory. We’ll also emphasize the application of methods that can help us understand how various types of buildings affect human behavior, experience, and interaction by encoding and communicating meanings. This includes an introduction to emerging digital technologies for recording, 3D modeling and visualizing past built environments as well as the use of space syntax, environmental psychology, visibility analyses and other approaches and methods that can shed light on people-place relationships. Readings and case studies will be global in perspective and assignments will focus on the application of approaches and methods on local contemporary buildings and archaeological datasets within students’ area of interest. While the focus is archaeological, the course draws heavily on theory and method from cultural anthropology, architecture, human geography, psychology, sociology, and urban planning, and should be of use to anyone interested in the relationship between people and built space, past or present.