Fall 2020 - ARCH 226 D100

The Prehistory of Religion: Shamans, Sorcerers and Saints (3)

Class Number: 4671

Delivery Method: Distance Education


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM



Charts the emergence and changes in the expression of human religious behavior. It covers the earliest rituals of the Palaeolithic, the importance of fertility cults, ancestor cults, alliance rituals, shamans, witchcraft, and monotheism. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


An overview of how archaeologists attempt to recognize ritual behaviours and religion in the past.  Topics include the distinction between traditional religions and book religions, shamanism, altered states of consciousness, monumental architecture, ritual offerings, ritual and warfare, human sacrifice, and human burial and cremation.  Examples are drawn from a wide variety of ancient cultures, ranging from the state societies of the Maya and Egypt, to smaller farming communities such as Chaco Canyon (North America), and foraging cultures of the distant past. Students may choose to write either the final exam OR an original research paper but may not write both (paper topics MUST be approved by the course instructor no later than Week 7; papers submitted without topic approval will NOT be accepted).


  • Short Assignments (3 @ 10% each) 30%
  • Midterm Exam 35%
  • Final Exam or Research Paper 35%



No Required text.  Readings will be made available online.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Students with Disabilities (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

Deferred grades will be given only on the basis of authenticated medical disability.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).