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GAP3053 - Society, Death and Disease

Module Content

The module will have three main themes – human osteoarchaeology and its contribution to our understanding of life in the past, the study of funerary monuments, and disease and its impact on past societies. In the first theme, students will be introduced to the study of archaeological human remains and what the osteological and palaeopathological analysis of past people can contribute to the studies of societies. Four practical sessions will provide an opportunity to identify human bones and to determine the age, sex and stature of a human skeleton. Theme 2 will focus on the information that can be gained from the study of funerary monuments and, in particular, Post-Medieval grave memorials. Fieldtrips will be made to Friar’s Bush and Balmoral cemeteries and students will be required to undertake a project on an aspect of grave memorials. The final theme will investigate a number of diseases of considerable antiquity, including leprosy and tuberculosis, which have had a strong impact on past human societies.

Module Objectives

To provide an appreciation of human osteoarchaeology and palaeopathology.
To introduce some of the contentious themes in osteoarchaeology.
To provide an appreciation of multidisciplinary research.
To equip students with the ability to critically evaluate scientific reports/papers.
To provide students with an understanding of Post-Medieval grave memorials.
To enable students to gain competence in communicating ideas and arguments clearly to others.


Dr Eileen Murphy

Skills taught

Understanding of the basic techniques of human osteology.
Practical analysis of Post-Medieval grave memorials.
Written self expression.
Critical analysis of reports/papers.


 Class Test
 Graveyard Project