L. Cignoni1, G. Fornaciari2, A. Fornaciari3

1Institute for Computational Linguistics "Antonio Zampolli", National Research Council (CNR), Pisa (ITALY)
2Division of Paleopathology, Department of Translational Research on New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery, Pisa (ITALY)
3Centre of Anthropological, Paleopathological and Historical Studies, Dept. of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sassari (ITALY)
This paper describes the activities performed by the students of the course of funerary archaeology held at the Division of Palaeopathology of Pisa University in collaboration with the Institute for Computational Linguistics (ILC) of the National Research Council (CNR) in Pisa in the period April-June 2014. The lessons, which used a Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) approach, were aimed at studying the funerary beliefs and burial practices in Italy and England in the Middle Ages. The 2014 course followed on from the courses of the year 2012 (focused on the more general issue of taphonomy; primary and secondary burials; single, double, or multiple burials), and 2013 (which examined the world of the ancient Romans and their burial customs of cremation and inhumation). The lessons were conducted by using extracts from self-contained specialized texts that were simple to read and that offered the basic concepts of medieval funerary archaeology. The students were supported by a reference text for funerary archaeology, which established the correct nomenclature to use when describing bodies, grave goods and tombs. Powerpoint slide presentations helped students break up the monotony of the text work and made the material more interesting and engaging. The slides were used to illustrate different types of burials in filled or empty spaces; the position of burials in both rural and urban environments; the disposition of the limbs in the burial; the rise of the Monasteries in the early Middle Ages and of the religious Orders of the Dominicans and Franciscans in the late Middle Ages. Each student was responsible for researching and reporting on a particular topic, and was supported by the use of information and communication techniques. Particular attention was devoted to the Books of Hours, important illuminated medieval manuscripts (containing psalms, short prayers and biblical quotations) that marked the different parts of the day and that were specifically composed for wealthy people. Classroom activities ranged from the simpler multi-matching and gap-filling exercises to the more complex tasks of providing definitions for given words, creating mind-maps, enriching a bilingual English-Italian glossary and providing contextualized examples for an English grammar book. Educational videos from the BBC or other channels and pertaining to the topics treated during the lessons were projected each time and were followed by direct questioning and more general conversation, to help students gain proficiency in oral communication. In the last three years, the Italian students from Pisa University have been working in collaboration with those of Ohio University on an excavation project carried out at the Field School in Medieval Archaeology and Bioarchaeology at Badia Pozzeveri (Lucca, Italy), to which the prestigious International journal SCIENCE dedicated a special issue and cover in December 2013. Finally, multidisciplinary elements were also included in the courses, by exploiting the information extracted from videos related to disciplines other than funerary archaeology, for example a BBC Channel 4 video describing the British meals of the day, the origins of which date back to medieval times.