City Literary College | WEA – Reading | General Courses

General courses

Listed below are the courses I have taught or can teach at Colleges, Adult Education Centres or Universities.

 

Archaeology Courses

  1. Introduction to Archaeology
  2. The Maya Civilisation
  3. The Aztecs
  4. The Inca
  5. Introduction to Central American Archaeology
  6. Introduction to South American Archaeology
  7. The Archaeology of North America
  8. Themes, Thought and Theory in World Archaeology
  9. Ancient Civilizations (World Prehistory)
  10. The Archaeology of Death and Burial
  11. Past Perspectives in Archaeology
  12. Who Owns the Past?

Day/Short Courses

  1. Discovering and Deciphering Ancient Writings
  2. Ancient Maya and Aztecs Civilisations 
  3. Architectural Feats of the Ancient World
  4. Art & Architecture of the Ancient Maya and Aztecs
  5. Practical Archaeology
  6. Who Owns the Past?
  7. Prehistory of Religion
  8. Frauds, Myths and Mysteries

Anthropology Courses

  1. Introduction to Anthropology (Peoples and Cultures of the World)
  2. Magic, Witchcraft and Religion
  3. Peoples and Cultures of Central America
  4. Peoples and Cultures of South America
  5. Indigenous Identities, Histories and Struggles
  6. The Anthropology of Men and Women

 

 


 

Ancient Civilisations (World Prehistory)

It was a fantastic course, informative, interesting, well-illustrated and taught by a wonderful teacher. Thank you!

Course Description

This course introduces you to the prehistoric past of humankind. We will be looking at the different ways archaeologists analyse data to investigate the past and students will critically evaluate some of the theories of archaeologists and how they are supported by archaeological data.

We will focus on the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers and the accompanying changes in human culture and subsistence. We will then discuss the emergence of civilisations, as shown by the rise of cities and the development of complex cultures. The earliest civilisations in Southwest Asia, India, China, Egypt, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Americas will be presented.

Course Goals

  1. Have an understanding of the emergence and evolution of the earliest civilisations throughout
    the world and their similarities and differences in regards to economics, politics, religion and society.
  2. Be able to challenge key theories on the emergence, development and collapse of ancient civilisations.
  3. Understand the complexities surrounding the issue of who owns the past.

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology or anthropology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, readings and follow-up discussions, video clips, group-work and debates. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular subjects you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

Machu Picchu

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The Archaeology of Death and Burial

“The course was perfect, the tutor was so in charge of her material and presented it in a very lively manner”

Course Description

How we dispose of and commemorate our dead is fundamental to human culture. This course explores themes and issues in the study of mortuary practices. Case studies from a wide variety of periods and places will be used in addressing topics such as social organisation and status, spirituality and religion, territory and legitimation and the ethics of using human remains in archaeology.

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology or anthropology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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The Maya Civilisation

Course Description

Learn about one of the most magnificent, but misunderstood civilisations of the ancient world – the ancient Maya from the rainforests of Central America. A detailed examination of their history and culture will be given.

The Maya created one of the most sophisticated civilizations in the ancient world. Their achievements in the arts and sciences, along with their complex social, political and economic systems, make them one of the most remarkable culture groups in the Precolumbian Americas. These people brought us an intricate calendar system, complex hieroglyphic writing, some of the largest pyramids in the world, a form of ballgame that is like no other and most importantly chocolate!

This course will provide you with an overview of the history and culture of the Maya. We will trace the culture’s development from its earliest beginnings to its cultural fluorescence focusing on the social, political, economic and ideological development of the society as well as the magnificent art, architecture, calendar and writing system. We also will explore both the continuities and changes that have occurred in Maya society from Precolumbian to modern times.  Information will be drawn primarily from archaeological investigations, translations of the hieroglyphs, ethnographic accounts and Spanish ethnohistoric documentary sources.

Course Goals

  1. State at least three myths surrounding the Maya
  2. Explain the causes of the ‘Maya collapse’
  3. Be able to read the Maya calendar and calculate sums using the Maya number system

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology or anthropology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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Ancient Maya and Aztec Civilisations

“I was surprised to have as a teacher someone with a PhD and more than 10 years of archaeological experience on archaeological sites in the Maya area”

Course Description

This is a taster course on two great New World civilisations and their achievements – the Aztecs and the Maya of Mesoamerica (southern Mexico and northern Central America) as revealed by archaeological and textual sources.First we will discuss the rise of the Maya and the construction of large, spectacular cities in a rainforest environment. We will briefly look at their art, architecture, calendar and writing. We will then examine the Aztecs of central Mexico, who during the 14th and 15th centuries developed Mesoamerica’s largest and most powerful empire. After examining the origins and evolution of the Aztec state, we turn our attention to its remarkable political and economic organization.  Class concludes with a discussion dispelling the myths that surround both cultures.

Course Goals

  1. Have a basic understanding of both the Aztec and Maya civilisations and their culture
  2. Have a knowledge of the remarkable achievements of both cultures as well as how they have been misinterpreted in popular culture and media

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology or anthropology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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Architectural Feats of the Ancient World

“I have a much clearer picture of ancient cultures – a wonderful perspective from our modern point of view. Pity the course was so short! More please with Diane Davies”

Course Description

The day course will explain how ancient societies were able to build such awe-inspiring monumental architecture often without the use of metal tools, the wheel or pack animals. The resourcefulness, ingenuity and skill of the ancient cultures will be discussed.

We will cover various monumental structures of the ancient world, such as the Pyramids of Giza, Stonehenge, the Moai of Easter Island, the pyramids of the Maya and the colossal heads of the Olmec. In doing so the mystery of how the materials were transported and transformed into great pyramids, monuments and temples will be explained.

Course Goals

  1. Explain how particular societies were able to construct such monumental architecture
  2. List the different ways in which ancient societies were able to transport materials

Course Level

No previous experience is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will include a PowerPoint presentation, video clips, activities and follow-up discussions.

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Art and Architecture of the Ancient Maya and Aztecs

“The quality of resources was perfect. The teacher accompanied her teaching with plenty of visual aids, books that were relevant to the topic, colourful reproductions and so on”

Course Description

This short course will take a detailed look at Maya and Aztec art and architecture, including painted vessels, murals and codices, lapidary art and stone sculptures discussing materials and techniques used and the makers and modellers themselves.

We will firstly look at the materials used in Maya art and architecture, and then move on to discussing the art and sculptural style and its regional variations, including painted vessels and art in murals and books. We will then move onto Aztec art, noting how their art style is represented in major monuments, as well as in wood, stone, clay and featherwork. We will also discuss the artists themselves.

Course Goals

  1. Recognise and distinguish between Maya and Aztec art and architecture
  2. Identify the materials and techniques used in creating their art and architecture
  3. Identify the creators of these fascinating works

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge. You will receive regular feedback throughout the course.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions.

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Discovering and Deciphering Ancient Writings

“Please more courses with Diane Davies!”

Course Description

The course will take a look at how some of the world’s ancient writings have been discovered, the problems involved in deciphering these ancient writings and examples of successes and failures in decipherment.

A background to ancient writings will be given, followed by examples of discoveries of writings in both the Old and New Worlds. We will then move on to discuss the issues inherent in translating ancient scripts, noting successes and failures. Finally, we will try our hand at deciphering both a known and unknown script.

Course Goal

  1. Identify at least two ancient writing systems and explain how they were deciphered
  2. List the problems that archaeologists and epigraphers have come across in trying to decipher ancient scripts
  3. Demonstrate how at least one script is read

Course Level

No previous experience is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will include a PowerPoint presentation, video clips, activities and follow-up discussions.

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Frauds, Myths and Mysteries in Archaeology

“Diane teaches with such enthusiasm and is so knowledgeable” 

Course Description

Did aliens build the Great Pyramid of Egypt? Are there archaeological traces of the lost civilization of Atlantis?   What is the truth behind the legend of the crystal skulls? Learn about why these ideas remain so popular despite the accumulation of archaeological evidence.

 This course will correct the misinformation that is often given in the media (movies, television) about how archaeological sites came about – for example the Nazca lines being an airstrip for alien spaceships, the lost civilisation of Atlantis, the Bosnian Pyramids, Ancient Astronauts and so on. We will discuss these explanations and the biases that underlie them and we will learn how to properly evaluate archaeological and scientific evidence. Finally, we will analyze the logical flaws in the pseudoscientific explanations and hone critical thinking skills.

Course Goal

  1. Explain the reasoning behind why particular ‘myths’ in archaeology remain so popular
  2. Be able to debunk at least two ‘myths’ in archaeology.

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology or anthropology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge. You will receive regular feedback throughout the course.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions.  Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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Introduction to Anthropology

“Diane Davies was really great, her knowledge was excellent and the resources, especially visual aids, were excellent”

Course Description

Anthropology is the study of different ways of life amongst human beings. This course then introduces the observed range of variation of ways of life around the world, the cross-cultural investigation of becoming and being human, as well as the comparative treatment of culture, communication, subsistence activities, social and political organization, gender, values and religion. The ultimate goal of this course is to make anthropology relevant, so that you can use the knowledge in your everyday life.

Course Goals

  1. Identify the defining characteristics of culture and principal methods of ethnographic research
  2. Understand how cultural beliefs and social structures vary from place to place and over time through studying the ethnographic findings of societies throughout the world

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology or anthropology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge. You will receive regular feedback throughout the course.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions.  Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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MayaRitual


 

Introduction to Archaeology

“The content was excellent, delivered by a very enthusiastic tutor – scholarly and approachable”

Course Description

This course will provide you with a broad introduction to the discipline of archaeology. Using a range of examples from the history of archaeology and from current excavations, the course will emphasize understanding the fundamental principles, theories and techniques that archaeologists use.

In addition to dealing with ‘how to do’ archaeology the techniques of locating, retrieving and analysing ancient remains, we will consider how these methodologies affect our interpretations of the past, and gain an appreciation of the importance of the archaeological record for our future.

The course is designed to provide you with an understanding of the “language” of archaeology, by outlining the main theories and methods that archaeologists use. Each week we will discuss a different aspect of the archaeological process, from site identification, through excavation and survey, to dating and interpretation of archaeological materials. We will discuss the nature of archaeological evidence, and consider who owns the past and how we use it.

Course Goals

  1. An understanding of the complexities of contemporary archaeological research
  2. Learn the basic concepts and methods of archaeology
  3. Gain an appreciation of the importance of archaeology in creating images of our past and crafting attitudes adopted and decisions taken in the present.

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge. You will receive regular feedback throughout the course.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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Introduction to Central American Archaeology: The Olmecs, Maya, Aztecs and more

“I teach history in a Spanish university and I am going to incorporate much of the information of this course into it”

Course Description

Mesoamerica is a broad geographic area covering Mexico and northern Central America and is made up of a variety of peoples who share both similar and uniquely different cultural traditions.  Some of the greatest civilizations in the ancient world developed here. This course will provide you with an overview of the cultural history of this fascinating region, in particular the Olmecs and their art style, the Zapotecs and their hill-top site of Monte Alban, Teotihuacan, the largest city in the New World, the Toltecs and their site at Tula, the Maya and their spectacular cities in the rainforest and the Aztecs who developed Mesoamerica’s largest and most powerful empire. You will learn about aspects of the social, political, economic and religious systems of these peoples. You will also come to understand how they accomplished their remarkable achievements in architecture, calendrics, astronomy, art and writing. The course concludes with a discussion dispelling the myths that surround these cultures.

Course Goals

  1. To provide an introduction to Mesoamerican prehistory and the main debates in Mesoamerican archaeology
  2. Describe how Mesoamerican societies were structured and explain their similarities and differences
  3. Gain a knowledge of the remarkable achievements of both cultures as well as how they have been misinterpreted in popular culture and media

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology or anthropology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge. You will receive regular feedback throughout the course.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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Introduction to South American Archaeology: The Inca, Nazca, Moche and More

“I liked the relaxed atmosphere, the fact that questions and conversation/discussion were always encouraged and the sheer range of subjects covered”

Course Description

The Central Andean archaeological record documents the rise and fall of some of the most complex societies to emerge in the pre-contact Americas. These include Chavin de Huantar, Paracas, Nazca (famous for the Nazca lines), Moche, Tiwanaku, Chumu, Chachapoya and the Inca empire. The area is also notable for its artistic and technological achievements in textiles, ceramics, metallurgy and monumental architecture. This course will review the history of human adaptation to the South American Continent from the earliest Paleo-Indian arrivals through to the Inca Empire and the consequences of the Spanish Conquest. It will provide an overview of South American prehistory and a survey of current research in the field.

Course Goals

  1. Knowledge of the key arguments regarding the nature and the historical development of ancient civilisations in the Andean region.
  2. Understand the character and complexity of indigenous South American societies, lifestyles, and social and political organisations.
  3. Be able to criticize and evaluate interpretations of archaeological data.

Course Level

No previous experience with archaeology or anthropology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.  You will receive regular feedback throughout the course.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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Magic, Witchcraft and Religion

“It is great to listen to a teacher who knows what she is talking about”

Course Description

This is a taster course that focuses upon phenomena that may be categorized broadly as “religion” and the closely related concept of belief in the “supernatural”. Students will become familiar with a variety of religious topics in cross-cultural perspective, including mythology, ritual, magic, witchcraft and shamanism. The course will approach these topics from the perspectives of anthropology and archaeology. Particular focus will be given to cultures in contact and the role of religion as a force for both continuity and change.

Course Goals

  1. Discuss various topics in the anthropology of religion
  2. Understand beliefs and practices from a variety of cultures from the past and present
  3. Assess and analyse the relationship between religious beliefs and practices and their social, economic, and political contexts

Course Level

No previous experience with anthropology or archaeology is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way. You are encouraged to read outside the course on particular topics you find interesting and would like to discuss in class.

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Practical Archaeology

“Interesting breadth of knowledge. The tutor was enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Excellent discussions”

Course Description

This class is designed to give a fundamental understanding of the methods and techniques used in archaeological investigations to locate and interpret material evidence about past human activities.

We will be looking at the different ways archaeologists analyse data to investigate the past. Topics include finding sites, excavation techniques, dating and chronology, ceramic and lithic analysis and human remains. A visit to the Museum of London Archaeology is also included as well as information on how to volunteer on an archaeological dig in the UK.

Course Goal

  1. Explain the practicalities involved in finding and excavating sites
  2. List the information that can be gleaned from excavating human remains
  3. Identify the different techniques that archaeologists use in dating materials

Course Level

No previous experience is required, nor is there a course prerequisite. You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way.

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Prehistory of Religion

       “Fascinating stories, a lot of enthusiasm by Diane Davies and well-organised discussions – Diane encouraged everyone to think”

Course Description

Using the archaeological record, we will look at the earliest evidence of religion and ritual in different corners of the world and how it played an integral role in rise of complex societies

The course would look at how ancient sacred buildings, complexes, tomb structures, artwork, and so on has provided the archaeologist with knowledge about the varieties of early spiritual experience around the world. We will look at the earliest evidence of religion in the archaeological record, as well as discussing how archaeologists reconstruct ancient religious rituals from the material remains alone.  We will discuss what particular sites reveal about the evolution of religion and we will also look at burial customs and afterlife. The course will not only show the integral role that religion played in great ancient civilisations, but also it will add a new level of understanding to the student’s knowledge of ancient history.

Course Goal

  • Explain the importance of religion in the rise of complex society and civilisations
  • Identify evidence for religion and religious ritual from material remains

Course Level

No previous experience is required, nor is there a course prerequisite.  You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way.

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Who owns the Past?

“I thoroughly enjoyed our course ‘Who owns the Past’, you have made us aware of the diversity of aspects and attitudes towards those issues under discussion, which I found most thought-provoking. Our homework study was also always enlightening”

Course Description

This course discusses how past remains are used and manipulated by professionals, archaeologists, governments and the public, which leads to the important question of who owns the past and its remains. This course can be taken on its own or as a follow on from Practical Archaeology.

We will cover issues such as looting and the removal of archaeological remains, the antiquities trade, museums and the return of cultural property, pseudoarchaeology, the issue surrounding the excavation and reburial of human remains and the manipulation of the past by both ruling and minority groups.

Course Goal

  1. Explain the difficulties surrounding the return of cultural property
  2. Explain the controversy surrounding ownership of the past and the parties involved
  3. Identify at least three arguments for and against the excavation of human remains

Course Level

No previous experience is required, nor is there a course prerequisite.  You will be encouraged to participate by asking questions, expressing your opinions and generally contributing your experience and knowledge.

Course Format

The format of the class will vary from week to week, but will include PowerPoint presentations, video clips, readings and follow-up discussions. Discussions will give us a chance to talk about the information and issues presented the readings and lectures in a less formal way.

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