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Archaeology

A diverse course covering the 'deep past'

Preparation

General Information

These links ๐Ÿ”— are good places to help for Archaeology (recommended by current students). It is not necessary to look at them all so to help, we've explained why we think each resource is useful so you can decide if it's applicable for you. We've put a โญ next to links we think are particularly helpful.

Overview ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ A good overview of the Cambridge course structure and typical entry requirements. Archaeology is a very small course which allows you to learn a brilliant subject with a small group of like minded peers.

Course content ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ To find out more about what youโ€™d be studying if you studied Archaeology here, these pages give an overview of current courses with introductions and reading guides for different papers.

Hear it from the academics! ๐Ÿ”— There is also a video from the department where two academics talk about the course at an Open Day.

Best preparation before application

Reading Lists ๐Ÿ”— The department has a reading list available. Donโ€™t worry about reading them all and some will be quite tricky to understand. Books like these are great for helping write your personal statement.

โ€œAssyriology as a University Subjectโ€ (Cambridge Archaeology) ๐Ÿ”— As part of the Undergraduate course you can do Assyriology which involves the study of Cuneiform (the worldโ€™s earliest known writing system). This short video gives you some students opinions on their time studying it.

In Our Time (BBC) ๐Ÿ”— This BBC radio program is really useful for learning about the subject in a more academic way. The one above is about the Egyptian book of the dead which is really interesting. The podcast features one of the lecturers. There are plenty others on various topics to do with Archaeology if you clock through their website.

The British Museum Curatorโ€™s Corner (British Museum) ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ An advantage of the UK having one of the finest collections of museum material is the great research that can be done. The British Museum have created a short series of videos about some curators research interests which are well worth a watch. Attached is a video of Irving Finkel, the wonderfully eccentric Near East collection curator, talking about the Lewis Chessmen.

The Poor Man of Nippur - World's first film in Babylonian (Cambridge Archaeology) ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ This short film was created by Dr Martin Worthington and is a brilliant introduction to the incredibly niche world of Near Eastern literature. Also worth a look is โ€œThe Epic of Gilgameshโ€ of which there are many translations available.

BBC documentaries (BBC Iplayer) ๐Ÿ”— BBC Iplayer has a brilliant array of resources to watch for free. Whether youโ€™re interested in Neolithic Orkney, Ancient Egypt or Roman Britain there are a number of accessible resources which will give you plenty to think about (other channels are available!).

Museums ๐Ÿ”—are great! ๐Ÿ”— ๐ŸŒŸ If you are lucky enough to live near a museum or university why not use their resources. Many museums run talks on various topics. Look on their websites to see if there are public lectures running. Furthermore, look at the artifacts on display! Archaeology is all about thinking about the stuff past humans leave behind. Looking at artifacts in person is far better than on a screen or in a book.

Public Records ๐Ÿ”— Whilst quite nerdy public records can tell us a lot about the UKโ€™s archaeology. Historic Environment Scotland have created a map tool which shows the locations of all sorts of sites in Scotland. Be they medieval castles or Neolithic field systems, everything is here showing how we are surrounded by Archaeology even in surprising places.

Local Archaeological Societies: Archaeology is so fantastic that some people do it as a hobby. Lots of places will have local groups who discuss and sometimes even get involved in archaeology in the field. Google your local area to see if there are any clubs you can join.

(Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice (Renfrew and Bahn, 2016)) This textbook will most likely be a big part of your life should you come study Archaeology at Cambridge. The book is a brilliant (if not sometimes quite dry) introduction to the way archaeologists think and work. Also worth a look is Archaeology: The Basics by Clive Gamble which is similar to Renfrew and Bahn yet slightly more reader friendly. Both should be available from your local library or cheap second hand.

The News! Most newspapers will write articles on archaeology. The Guardian for example tends to have at least one story a day on a part of archaeology. There is always plenty more to dig up.

Contact People: One current archaeology student emailed a prominent academic for some help with her interview prep - and they emailed back! If you live in a university town or if not try and get in contact with an archaeologist. It could help you find out some really interesting stuff.

Social media: The Cambridge Archaeology department have accounts ontwitter, facebook and instagram. Give them a follow for information about upcoming opportunities and work that goes on in the department.

Application and Interviews

Application

Different college have different criteria to get in (see below). The course website gives some information. A written assessment is mandatory at interview and some colleges expect submitted written work.

The written assessment does not assume too much prior knowledge and is based upon your ability to analyse text. There are sample past papers on the course page.

Different colleges will have different criteria for written work so check there websites before applying.

Interviews

Read interviews about Archaeology.

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Colleges

Official College Websites

As archaeology is a relatively new course there is limited data on admissions for the past two years. Roughly speaking colleges admit one archaeologist per year but this depends on the particular year.

See the stats! ๐Ÿ”—

Check out our college comparison table here! ๐Ÿ”— (P.S. this will open to a google doc)

Image credit: Gonville and Caius by Akil Hashmi