Fall 2004, Anthropology, Univ. of Toronto

Course Web Page:


Dr. Heather M.-L. Miller

Office:  208 North Building, UTM  (or 1028 Sid Smith, St. George)

Phone, UTM:  905-828-3741
Email:  hmiller "at"

Class meeting at UTM:                                           217 North                                                    Tuesdays 10-12

Open Lab Time at UTM:                                          221 North                                                    By appointment

Office Hour at St. George:                                     1028 Sid Smith                                     Fridays by appointment


Course Description

This course approaches past technologies from a variety of perspectives:  through readings and discussion of major theoretical topics; through analysis of archaeological data; through ethnographic videos and accounts; and through hands-on techniques of reconstruction, experimentation and analysis. 

Technology and production will be studied alternatively from the perspective of the archaeologist, focusing on the major methods archaeologists and others have used to study ancient technology, and from the perspective of the ancient craftsperson, focusing on basic production technologies for a number of crafts. 

Intertwined with this, a number of archaeological themes in the study of technology will be examined, such as organization & control of production, style of technology, and the value of objects.  Throughout, social and cultural as well as economic and functional reasons for the development and adoption of new technologies will be discussed.






(1) Steven Lubar & W. D. Kingery (eds), 1993.  History From Things: Essays on Material Culture. Washington DC:  Smithsonian Institution Press. 

We will read 1 chapter for the 4th class, & 5 chapters of this book for one of the last classes. There are multiple copies at various U of T libraries, or you can order it through Chapters if you'd like to own it.  Don't wait to order, it can take a while if it is coming from the States.

(2) The reading selections will be available in the photocopy room at St. George, and in room 221 at UTM.  If you take anything to copy, please leave a note indicating when you will return it.



The bibliography includes full references for a number of books that are key background references for this class, your research, and future teaching.  If you can buy them now, do so.  Otherwise, plan for the future.  Rye & Sinopoli also have several sections assigned for class reading; these are in the readings for those who don't have the books.


Rice, Prudence M. 1987.  Pottery Analysis: A Sourcebook.  Chicago:  Univ. of Chicago Press.

Rye, Owen S. 1981.  Pottery Technology: Principles and Reconstruction. Manuals on Archaeology vol. 4. Washington DC: Taraxacum Press.

Sinopoli, Carla M. 1991. Approaches to Archaeological Ceramics.  New York: Plenum Press.

Inizan, M.-L., H. Roche, J. Tixier.  1992.  Technology of Knapped Stone.  English edition.  PrŽhistoire de la Pierre TaillŽe, Tome 3.  Meudon:  C.R.E.P. (CNRS).

Odell, George H.  2004.  Lithic Analysis.  New York: Klewer Academic/Plenum Publishers

Whittaker, John C. 1994  Flintknapping:  Making and Understanding Stone Tools.  Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

David, Nicholas & Carol Kramer.  2001.  Ethnoarchaeology in Action.  Cambridge World Archaeology series.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.

Franklin, Ursula.  1992 [1990].  The Real World of Technology.  CBC Massey Lectures Series.  Concord, Ontario:  House of Anansi Press. 


You really must have Rice (1987) and Rye (1981) if you intend to work with ceramics; Sinopoli (1991) is also strongly recommended for examples of the use of ceramics to answer social questions. There are several good flintknapping books besides Whittaker - ask if you want other references.  See me for references for other craft industries.  David & Kramer is a must-have for ethnoarchaeology.  Franklin is an excellent, intelligible, inexpensive book (only $10) that shows why people should care about the study of past technologies.  Most other key theoretical references are articles - see the bibliography.


Note: If you are having trouble finding some of these recommended books, the UTM bookstore will order the book at cost if you pay at the time of ordering.  It might be best to order as a group.



Course Requirements and Grading

The course mark will depend on participation and on a final project. 


[1] 10% of the course mark will be based on participation in class.  This includes class attendance, critical discussion of readings, and involvement in labs.  Students may be assigned as discussion leaders for particular classes/articles.


[2] 20% of the course mark will be based on 'position papers' that you write for each class.  These are short statements (1 page single-spaced, 12 pt. font) summarizing the main point of each of the readings for that class, and indicating how they fit with each other and/or with the theme(s) for the day.


[3] Each student will do an individual project examining the role of technology in a past society, based on the experimental or replicative investigation of an ancient object or manufacturing technique.  This project with be presented orally to the class, and also as a written document in the form of either a formal paper/article or the design for a museum display.  Various steps will be submitted so the instructor can provide the maximum feedback on your project.  Past papers have gone on to become conference presentations, published papers, or even the foundation for dissertation research.


                        Topic Statement (1-2 paragraphs at least)                     (no mark, but I will tell you how I

would have marked it)

                        Annotated Bibliography                                                             10%

                        20-30 minute Class Presentation                                                25%

                        Written Paper                                                                           35%



Lab Work for Individual Projects

We are only able to do a few demonstrations/hands-on sessions in class to illustrate particular topics or crafts.  However, depending on the topics chosen and the number of students in the class, labs related to individual projects are sometimes incorporated into the class labs.  In addition, I often schedule optional weekly lab times when I meet with students outside of class to do further lab work related to their individual topics.  Other students are welcome to attend any sessions of interest, whether related to their own projects or not. 

Link to Class Schedule