Spring 2020 - ARCH 471W D100

Archaeological Theory (5)

Class Number: 5747

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SWH 9152, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 15, 2020
    10:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    George Nicholas
    Office: EDB 9627
    Office Hours: TBA
  • Prerequisites:

    ARCH 131, 201, 272W and 273.



The cultural, evolutionary, physical, and distributional principles which underlie the prediction and reconstruction of the past. Writing.


This course reviews the history of archaeological thought, from its earliest manifestations through to topics discussed in recent issues of American Antiquity and other journals. Each of the major “schools” of archaeological theory—culture history, processualism, and post-processualism—will be explored in depth. The historical context and sociopolitics relating to the development of these different approaches and how archaeology influences, and is influenced by, contemporary society will also be explored and discussed.  

The course emphasizes but is not limited to North American archaeology. A firm grounding in archaeological theory will provide a greater understanding of the dynamic nature of archaeological thought, and the means to evaluate different ways of looking at the past. This is a lecture course with a discussion component.


  • Mid-term Examination 25%
  • Final Take-Home Examination 25%
  • Term Project 25%
  • Exercises (5) 20%
  • Article Summary and Presentation 5%


Writing Intensive (W)



Johnson, Matthew. 2019. Archaeological Theory: An Introduction (3nd edition). Wiley Blackwell.
ISBN: 978-1-1184-7502-7


Trigger, Bruce. 2006. A History of Archaeological Thought (2nd edition). Cambridge.
ISBN: 978-0-5216-0049-1

O’Brien, M., L. Lyman, and M. Schiffer. 2005. Archaeology as a Process. University of Utah Press.
ISBN: 978-0-8748-0907-7

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