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Archaeology of Complex Societies

Code: 100728 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500241 Archaeology OT 3 0
2500241 Archaeology OT 4 0
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


Pedro Vicente Castro Martínez

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
spanish (spa)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


There are no special prerequisites.

Objectives and Contextualisation

1. Define the notion of "complexity" applied to societies studied by archaeology.

2. Consider the historical dynamics of illetrate societies that suppose territorial expansions, inter-regional integrations, world-systems and relations of dependency and centre-periphery, his material bases and his political-ideological configurations.

3. Consider the historical dynamics of illetrate societies that suppose crisis and collapses, paths of growth-decreasing, aggregation-desaggregation, centralisation-decentralisation, as well as conjunctures of catastrophes and epidemics.

4. Present the theoretical positions and the methodologies used in the studies from prehistoric archaeology on the subjects concerned.

5. Present and analyse some cases of prehistoric societies, object of studies from prehistoric archaeology, that illustrate the related topics, in diferent geographies and historical times.


  • Contextualizing and analysing historical processes.
  • Managing the main methods, techniques and analytic tools in archaeology.
  • Providing a context for the concepts of archaeological theory and its origin and distinguishing the main epistemological and methodological debates in social sciences.
  • Students must be capable of applying their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and they should have building arguments and problem resolution skills within their area of study.
  • Students must be capable of collecting and interpreting relevant data (usually within their area of study) in order to make statements that reflect social, scientific or ethic relevant issues.
  • Students must be capable of communicating information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialised and non-specialised audiences.
  • Students must have and understand knowledge of an area of study built on the basis of general secondary education, and while it relies on some advanced textbooks it also includes some aspects coming from the forefront of its field of study.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Applying both knowledge and analytical skills to the resolution of problems related to their area of study.
  2. Applying proper techniques and analytical tools in case studies.
  3. Autonomously searching, selecting and processing information both from structured sources (databases, bibliographies, specialized magazines) and from across the network.
  4. Critically assessing the sources and theoretical models.
  5. Identifying the characteristic methods of Archaeology and its relationship with the historical analysis.
  6. Identifying the context of the historical processes.
  7. Interpreting material sources and the archaeological record.
  8. Mastering the diachronic structure of the past.
  9. Mastering the processes of change produced in Prehistory.
  10. Transmitting the results of archaeological research and clearly communicating conclusions in oral and written form to both specialised and non-specialised audiences.


1. "Complexity" in Archaeology.

2. Historical dynamics of Génesis and Finals and the Illetrate Societies.

3. Territorial expansions and Territorial Integrations: Material Bases and Political Configurations-Ideological.

4. World-systems and relations of dependency and of centre-periphery.

5. Catastrophes and Epidemics: Implications and consequences in Prehistoric Societies.

6. Crisis and Collapses: Paths of growth-decreasing, aggregation-desaggregation, centralisation-decentralisation, stratification-horizontality.


1. Lectures on the contents of the syllabus. Frequent discussion of topics in the classroom. 

2. Exposition of course works on concrete cases, and debate and comments in the classroom.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Theoretical classes 45 1.8 9, 8, 6, 5
Type: Supervised      
Practical classroom activities 15 0.6 2, 1, 4, 3, 6, 5, 7, 10


1. A written course work, individually or in a group, about a case study. Reassessable.

2. An exhibition in class of the contents of the course work on a case study.

3. Brief individual intervention on questions referred to some of the subjects developed in class.


At the moment of completion/delivery of each assessment activity, will inform (Virtual Campus) of the procedure and date of revision of qualifications.

Will be classified as Non-evaluable when has not delivered more than 30% of the evaluation activities.

In the event of committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the person will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.

In the event that tests or exams cannot be taken onsite, they will be adapted to an online format made available through the UAB’s virtual tools (original weighting will be maintained). Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and/or discussion on Teams, etc. Lecturers will ensure that students are able to access these virtual tools, or will offer them feasible alternatives.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Individual essay 25 10 0.4 1, 4, 3, 10
Public exhibition and debate 25 20 0.8 4, 10
Written thematic course work 50 60 2.4 2, 1, 4, 3, 9, 8, 6, 5, 7, 10


Basic bibliography


CASTRO-MARTINEZ, P.V., GILI, S., LULL, V., MICÓ, R., RIHUETE, C., RISCH, R. i SANAHUJA YLL, Mª E. (2001), “Teoría de la producción de la vida social. Un análisis de los mecanismos de explotación en el sudeste peninsular”, Astigi Vetus, 1, pp. 13-54.

CASTRO MARTINEZ, P.V.,  ESCORIZA MATEU, T., OLTRA PUIDOMENECH, J., OTERO VIDAL, M. y SANAHUJA YLL, Mª E. (2003). “¿Qué es una ciudad? Aportaciones para su definición desde la prehistoria”, Geocrítica-Scripta Nova. Revista Electrónica de Geografía y Ciencias Sociales, VII, 146 (10).

CASTRO-MARTÍNEZ, P.V., ESCORIZA-MATEU, T., SANAHUJA YLL, M.E. (2006), Contra la Falsificación del Pasado Prehistórico, Instituto de la Mujer, Madrid.

CASTRO-MARTINEZ, P.V.; ESCORIZA MATEU, T. (2009), “Lugares Reales y Lugares Ideales. Mujeres y Hombres: Realidad e Ideología en Arqueología”, Cuadernos de Prehistoria de la Universidad de Granada, 19: 37-64.

CASTRO-MARTINEZ, P.V.; ESCORIZA MATEU, T. (2014), “Por una Arqueología Social, contra las Manipulaciones Convenientes”, Arkeogazte. Revista de Arqueología, 4: 25-42.

CHAPMAN, R. W. (2010), Arqueologías de la complejidad. Bellaterra, Barcelona.

CHILDE, V. G. (1950), “The Urban Revolution”, Town Planning Review, 21 (1), pp. 3-17.

CHILDE, V. G. (1954 [1936]), Los orígenes de la civilización. Fondo de Cultura Económica, México (2ª edición).

FLANNERY, K. (1975), La evolución cultural de las civilizaciones. Anagrama, Barcelona. Original (1972), “The Cultural Evolution of Civilizations”, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 3, pp. 399-426.

FRANK, A.G. and B. GILLS (1993), The World System: 500 years or 5000?, London: Routledge.

FRIED, M. (1985 [1960]), “Sobre la evolución de la estratificación social y del Estado”, en Llobera, J. R. (ed.), Antropología Política. Anagrama, Barcelona, pp. 133-154.

GUIDI, A. (2000), Preistoria della complessità sociale. Editori Laterza, Bari.

MARX, K. (1989 [1857]), “Introducción” a las Grundrisse”. Anexo en Contribución a la crítica de la economía política. Progreso, Moscú.

RENFREW, C. i BAHN, P., (1993), Arqueología. Teorías, Métodos y Práctica. Akal, Madrid.

SERVICE, E. (1984 [1975]), Los orígenes del Estado y de la civilización. El proceso de la evolución cultural. Alianza Universidad, Madrid.

TAINTER, J. (2003), The Collapse of Complex Societies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.




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