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Course Review: Archaeology of Portus

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Provider: University of Southampton at FutureLearn [course page]
Lecturers: Professor Simon Keay, Dr. Graeme Earl and Dragana Mladenovic
Subject: Humanities / History + Archaeology + Science
Delivery: intake-based asynchronous study
Recommended Load: 2 hrs/week over 6 weeks
Completion Date: 06/26/2014

Description: This course teaches us a little of the methods and techniques used by Archaeologists using the real-life dig site of the ancient Roman port of Portus.

Strengths: The team covers a lot of ground in a short time, teaching us about the elements to consider while on a dig site, the procedures, issues, methods and techniques. This means learning a lot of material in a short period of time. The course makes use of numerous materials off-site, as well as numerous videos, articles, optional content. There are five weekly quizzes leading up to a final assignment on the last week that brings together what you’ve learned previously in order to offer some insight and observations on a given section of the dig site.

Weaknesses: This course is not an easy ride, requiring students to do more than simply watch videos and read articles. It also requires a steep learning curve due to its multi-disciplinary approach.

Conclusion: The course bridges the gap between the Sciences and the Humanities seamlessly, in a manner that offers both relevance and context. It requires both critical and creative thinking using tools gathered during six weeks of intense learning. Students are encouraged to think outside of the box, whilst realizing that we also have to contend with some things that we do know and understand about the era in which Portus was in place. It also gives us some insight into the role that religion, politics and trade have played throughout history. I highly recommend that folks with an interest in history and at least a passing fascination in the role of science in gathering data enrol in future intakes of this course.
I was very happy with the amount that I learned during my six weeks spent on this course. As such, I would recommend that folks also consider taking the six-part self-paced Harvard MOOC series on China over at EdX, as well the intake-based Emory University MOOC The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Nubia at Coursera, as they will offer further insight into what was occurring in other regions of the world at the time of Portus.


Author: keikomushi

Reader, Writer, New Media Buff, Anime Fangirl, Gnome Hunter, Last Action Femme Fatale, Appreciator of Nature, Jack-of-all-trades.

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