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Houses in an Urban Context – High Definition Approaches

Graduate School, Arts at Aarhus University


For a long time urban archaeology was primarily concerned with monumental architecture, public buildings, and single finds of high artistic value. On a broader level, the reconstruction of the political and cultural development of civic life was the main concern of both archaeological and historical research of past cities. Recently however, the everyday practice of living in cities has begun to arrest attention. There is a growing interest in the reconstruction of every day social practice and the understanding of the interaction between families and individuals in an urban environment. At the heart of such advances is research into households and domestic spaces, which form the smallest units of the cityscape, both architecturally and socially. Domestic archaeology offers a unique opportunity to investigate how religion, gender, ethnicity, and identity shaped the life of the individual in the past.

Most promising are holistic approaches to the study of domestic space, which pay attention to social, behavioural and material aspects of houses and their inhabitants. To further our understanding of these complex processes and to get a truly high-resolution image of the complex use of domestic spaces, archaeological sciences have developed news tools that help to develop more precise narratives of the uses of domestic space, as well as to review and re-evaluate existing narratives. They are reshaping our understanding of, and approaches to, domestic archaeology. New conceptual frameworks and technological advances have pushed back the frontiers of archaeology, allowing us to interrogate and interpret domestic spaces by revising old narratives and developing new questions.


The course will offer research-based teaching on the concepts and methods of household archaeology and innovative ways to examine domestic spaces in urban contexts. The aims are:

  • To understand the scope, the objective and the methods of domestic archaeology. The course will equip students with basic conceptual and analytical tools to analyse domestic spaces in an urban context;
  • To understand the entanglement of domestic space, material culture, and identity;
  • To understand and to assess the potential of scientific methods and high definition archaeology for research on houses and households;
  • To identify research issues, problems, and research questions inherent to domestic archaeology, including potential limitations and constraints;
  • To appreciate the interdependency between scientific and traditional archaeological dating methods, emphasising the importance of accurate context recording and sampling (preselection) to construct high definition chronologies.
  • To consider the value of cross-cultural comparison of the use of domestic space in different past cultures

The course has a focus on key questions of contemporary archaeological, historical, and material science studies.


The course will offer lectures and discussions about key current themes and methods of domestic archaeology. The focus will be on both conceptual and hands-on archaeological approaches to investigate houses in past cities, in cultures ranging from Classical Antiquity to the late Medieval period. Discussions and group work related to the lectures and the student case studies will play an important role.

Target group:

PhD level

Archaeologists, Historians




The format of the course will be a mixture of lectures, exercises and workshops. Attendees will be expected to participate actively and may be asked to deliver short presentations. Exercises will involve group discussion, Q and A sessions or quizzes, as well as short presentations. Students will be expected to deliver a short 2 page case study (written) prior the course commencing, which will then be presented to the group during the workshop sessions.




Course co-ordinators

Michael Blömer

Chris Dickenson


Stephanie Wynne-Jones (University of York)

Jennifer Baird (Birkbeck, University of London)

Hanna Stöger (Leiden University)

Sarah Croix (AU)

Mette Svart Kristiansen (AU)

Dates and time:

1 – 2 November 2018


Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet)

Aarhus University, School of Culture and Society

Moesgård Allé 20

8270 Højbjerg


Application deadline:

Please apply for a spot on the course via no later than 14 October 2018.

Upon application via the application facility, you will get an automatically generated receipt. This receipt is NOT a receipt for admission to the course. It only serves as an acknowledgement that your application has been stored in the application facility.

We will do our utmost to send notice of admission or non-admission via email as soon as possible after the application deadline, but some response time must be expected.


Course dates
01 November 2018 - 02 November 2018
Please see "Lecturers"
Moesgård Allé 20
room to be announced
3 points

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