While all assignments will be graded on a point scale (ie. 15/20) and the running tally of the semester grade on D2L will be displayed as percent, final grades will be given on a 4.0 scale. The final grade will be calculated using the following scale:

  • 90 – 100 = 4.0
  • 85 – 89.99 = 3.5
  • 80 – 84.99 = 3.0
  • 75 – 79.99 = 2.5
  • 70 – 74.99 – 2.0
  • 65 – 69.99 = 1.5
  • 60 – 64.99 = 1.0
  • <60 = 0

Your final grade will be based on the following criteria:

Blog Entries/Responses (20%) – throughout the semester, students will be required to post a sereis of entries to the course blog. The subject of each weekly Blog Entry should be a thoughtful commentary on an issue, article (online or physical), or lecture topic of the student’s choosing (relating to pseudoarchaeology).  In most cases, there will be a specific prompt (see the class Schedule for the prompts).  The entry must be at least 300 words in length (though students are welcome to write more than that if they want).   In addition to the posts, students are expected to respond to at least one post made by their fellow students.  The responses must be at least 200 words.  Posts are (usually) due by 5pm on a Friday, and the responses are due by 5pm on a Sunday. Students must complete both that week’s entry and response in order to get credit for the assignment.  If students meet all of the requirements for the assignment (due date, length requirement, entry + response), they will receive full credit.  If students don’t meet all of the requirements, they will not receive credit at all.

Midterm (25%) –  will include multiple choice, fill in the blank, true/false, and short answer questions. The material covered in the exam will be based on the class discussions, lectures, and the required reading.

Optionally, students can choose to write a short research paper of no less than 2000 words.  The topic of the paper is open and up to the student (hoever, they must get approval for their intended topic with the professor well before the due date).  Instead of being physically handed in, research papers must be sent (electronically) in PDF format to the professor (PDF only, no Word documents). If students choose to write a paper, they must discuss their proposed topic with the professor beforehand.

Final Exam (35%) – The final exam is take home.  The exam is intended to give you an opportunity to digest the things we’ve talked about, do some synthesis, and be a little more thoughtful about what you write than you might normally be able to do in a traditional exam. The questions and more detailed instructions will be provided near the end of the semester.

Digital Pseudoarchaeology Project (20%) –

Turn in your project before 5 pm Friday, Dec. 4th, by filling out this form:

In this assignment, students write a critical article about  a site or artifact (of their choosing) that has played a central role in the arguments and ideas of pseudoarchaoelogists  and write about it. Instead of being physically handed in, students will put their Digital Pseudoarchaeology Project on the central online hub (more on that later)  The Digital Pseudoarchaeology Project must be at least 1700 words in length (more is perfectly fine).

Students will select a site/artifact from the list below. Upon choosing a site/artifact, students must email your professor by October 15th to claim their choice (so that two students don’t write on the same site). If students write on a site/artifact that they didn’t claim beforehand, they will not receive credit. Students can choose to write on a site/artifact that isn’t on the list – they just need to get it approved beforehand.

The Digital Pseudoarchaeology Project should address the following questions/issues (each of which translates into a specific section of the project)

  • What is the site/artifact?
  • What is the context in which it was found/excavated/etc?
  • What is the pseudoarchaeological narrative associated with the site/artifact?
  • With multiple sources of evidence, critically deconstruct the pseudoarchaeological narrative

If students think that it is important to add more sections, they should absolutely do so.

Please use the form at this link to request your website from LEADR:

If you receive an error stating “You need permission” to view the form, this is because you are currently logged into one or more Google accounts. In order to rectify this, either log out of all your Google accounts before clicking on the link, or open the link in a private browsing tab such as with Chrome’s Incognito Mode, or Firefox’s Private Window. Both of these can be reached by right-clicking on the link and choosing to open the link in the respective private version (this is likely the same process for opening the link with a private window in other browsers, such as Safari or Opera). When open, you should be prompted to log into your MSU account.

Some guidelines/things to think about with the Digital Pseudoarchaeology Project:

  • Meeting the minimum word count is a requirement of the assignment.  If students don’t meet that minimum word count, they will be docked significantly.
  • Students must have at least 7 sources/references (this doesn’t count any cited images). More sources is, of course, perfectly fine. The sources can be digital or physical. However, they have to be scholarly in nature.  If you are confused as to what constitutes “scholarly in nature,” ask. Here is a really good source for determining the quality of an online source: or
  • All images must be referenced as properly.  Try to use Creative Commons licensed works. Here is a hint to find creative commons licensed images – use the CC Search engine. Also, for specific archaeological images that are creative commons licensed, you should look at the ISAW Ancient World Image Bank.
  • Wikipedia (and similar sites like, Encyclopedia Britannic  etc.) are absolutely acceptable sources. Remember, Wikipedia is a great place to start, but it shouldn’t be something you cite as a source on a piece of work.
  • Check out digital archaeology repositories such as tDAR and ADS. You might also want to check out Open Context – which is a publication platform for primary archaeological data (if you need it).

Students can choose one of the following sites or suggest their own:

  • Great Pyramid of Giza – Joseph Kahn
  • Nazca Lines – Evan Borgman
  • Puma Punku – Makenzie McDowell
  • Newark Holy Stones – Charnay Gloss
  • Acámbaro figures
  • Mystery Hill/America’s Stonehenge – Alyssa Gray
  • Berg-AVM Runestone
  • Kensington Runestone – Deanna Domino
  • Baghdad Battery – Mike Evon
  • Bat Creek Inscription – Victoria Martin
  • Bimini Road/Bimini Wall – Matthew Ungar
  • Bourne stone
  • Crystal Skulls – Michael Grassi
  • Dendera lightbulb – Nicole Williams
  • Davenport Tablets – Corrie Strayer (honors option)
  • Dorchester Pot – Alexandra Wright
  • Stonehenge – Pa Vang
  • Ġebel ġol-Baħar – Sam Miller
  • Gympie Pyramid – Kristen Doshier
  • Temple of Seti I Helicopter hieroglyphs – Dejonia Mitchell
  • Ica stones – Alexandre Izokaitis
  • Klerksdorp sphere
  • Lenape Stone
  • Holly Oak Gorget
  • Michigan Relics – Kendra Updyke
  • Moab Man – Corrie Strayer
  • Oklahoma runestones (Heavener stone, Poteau stone, Shawnee stone)
  • Quimbaya artifacts – Hunter Woods
  • Saqqara Bird – Michael Kelly
  • Kingoodie hammer
  • Tecaxic-Calixtlahuaca head – Maxwell Oerther
  • Baalbek megaliths – Sean Monaghan
  • Shakōkidogū
  • Stone spheres of Costa Rica – Je’Sonja Lee
  • Fuente Magna bowl
  • Calaveras Skull – Samantha Mathias
  • Los Lunas Decalogue Stone
  • The Giza Hall of Records – Eddie Wol
  • Naacal Tablets
  • Mount Padang – John Belanger
  • Bakoni Ruins – Thalia Manuelidis
  • Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun – Nikki Brabaw
  • Burrows Cave
  • Cave of Swimmers
  • Wondjina Petroglyphs – Sophia Gevoy
  • Sego Canyon Cave Paintings – Jesus Leyva
  • VA243 Cylinder Seal
  • Chaco Canyon Petroglyphs
  • Göbekli Tepe – Ani Papazian
  • Baalbek megaliths

Bonus Wikipedia Editing Assignment (5%) – In this bonus project, students will edit a wikipedia page on a topic relating to pseudoarchaeology archaeology (of their choosing).  Students will be asked to write a blog post of at least 500 words discussing the edits they made (rationale, content, etc.) as well as a reflection to what happened to their edits after they were made.  The discussion/reflection will take the place of a regular blog post.

Detailed Guidelines:

  • Students are free to choose any page or topic that they would like.  However, the topic or page you choose should be one that is logically weak or poorly written, or that is otherwise incomplete.
  • Using a pseudonym (which means you need to create an account), log into Wikipedia and make a substantial improvement to the article. Email Ethan with your pseudonym, the page/article you edited, an brief description of the changes you made.
  • Wait at least a week before returning to the edited your article to see what changes/reversions/edits were made.
  • In your blog post, reflect on how much of their contribution survived the interval; why did those parts survive? Why did some parts get reverted or deleted? How does the Wikipedian community deal with citations and points of view? The blog post should also (briefly) discuss the changes/edits you originally made to the article.
  • This assignment is not about whether your changes survive.  I’m not at all concerned if your changes get reverted back 5 minutes after you make them.  Instead, the assignment is about the quality & quantity of edits that you made and your reflection upon those edits (and any subsequent changes that were made to what you did)

Wikipedia Editing Resources

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