Feasting like the Ancients: An Inter-Disciplinary Approach to Early Food and Drink ARCH4066

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course combines an anthropological approach to the social significance of food and drink with experimental archaeology and organic residue analysis. Food and drink in the ancient world and especially feasting practices are popular research themes in archaeology, while experimental archaeology continues to thrive and expand into new areas of enquiry. At the same time, great strides have been made in refining scientific methods for the detection of the chemical residues of ancient foodstuffs in archaeological materials such as pottery. This interdisciplinary course offers students the unique opportunity to engage with, and learn how to integrate, these three strands of archaeological and scientific enquiry into early food and drink. Specific course themes and experiments will vary in line with the ongoing research of teaching staff and student requests, but will normally focus on examples from the Near East and the East Mediterranean.


One two-hour session per week for 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Archaeology and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all student fulfilling requirements for Honours entry in Archaeology, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Experiment Proposal (1000 words) - 20%

Essay (1500 words) - 30%

Blog (2000 words) - 40%

Video (3-minute duration) - 10%

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ Investigate food and feasting as significant aspects of past social life and explore a specific ancient food or drink and its preparation or consumption equipment.

■ Gain an appreciation of the main tenets of experimental archaeology and the fundamentals of organic residue as a tool for archaeological research.

■ Participate in the design and conduct of archaeological experiments and organic residue analysis and explore avenues of archaeological and organic geochemical interpretation of laboratory results.

■ Develop transferable skills of analysis, presentation and communication.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ critically discuss the social significance of food and drink and its consumption

■ competently engage with current issues in relevant aspects of experimental archaeology

■ design, carry out and document a simple, hypothesis-driven archaeological experiment in line with the course theme

■ describe the fundamental principles of organic residue analysis and its relationship to archaeological research

■ communicate research to a non-specialist/public audience

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.