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World Archaeology 3.2: The Americas


Admission requirements



The lecture series World Archaeology gives an outline of the deep history of humans and society from our early ancestors to the more complex societies in the world. The role of material culture in society is discussed and shown in many regions and periods.

World Archaeology 3.2 addresses the archaeology of the American hemisphere from early colonisation up to the early period of European colonialism across 1492.
In the Americas, as well as worldwide, people used material culture to shape their world and at the same time, people were shaped by the material culture they created. This type of data will be used to critically understand past indigenous societies of the Americas, including the use of pictorial indigenous, written sources and oral tradition.

During this brief introductory course, we will provide a first view onto some areas of the Americas, known to us through a long legacy of archaeological work, in part also centred at the Faculty of Archaeology.
Starting with the Late Pleistocene settlement of the American continents, we will move across space and time discussing a selection of Holocene areas, outlining major chronological developments, including subsistence practice, architectural repertoires, major archaeological sites, pottery making, social organisation and ideational worlds.

Although mentioning several different areas of the Americas, we will be centred around Middle America (Mesoamerica and southern Central America), and the Caribbean area, also touching on the South American lowland area.

In this course, we will begin to create an understanding of the particular features of archaeology in the Americas, underscoring the different areas and regions and the multiple scales of analysis. While discussing the American hemispheres from the perspective of Europe may seems plausible, we will explore the complexity of actually doing so.
The course will also include consideration of the rich contemporary variety of national and socio-cultural contexts in the Americas, underscoring the relevance of current societal problems and challenges.

Course set-up

3 lectures and 3 tutorial sessions, over 3 weeks.

Course objectives

  • Basic knowledge of principal archaeological developments in parts of the Americas;

  • Basic understanding of current debates and challenges in American archaeology;

  • Basic understanding of how peoples used material culture to shape the American world(s) and how their world(s) was/were shaped by material culture;

  • Initial understanding of some of the variety of archaeological evidence in the Americas, i.e. tools and ornaments, household items, imagery, structures of houses, pottery, burials, zoo-archaeological remains, etc.;

  • Knowledge of the nature of archaeological data and its correlation to the regional and temporal variations in indigenous linguistics, technologies, settlements, economies, social organisation and worldviews across the continent;

  • Initial understanding of dramatic changes to the pre-colonial realities inflicted by European colonialism since 1492;

  • Ability to summarise and reflect on specialist literature with regard to this course’s topics;

  • Ability to conceive and report in written format (Discussion Points on the assigned literature and the exam);

  • Ability to defend your Discussion Points during the class discussion, supporting your position with academically valid arguments.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of lectures of approximately 1 hour each (asynchronous or synchronous) on 3 individual subjects. Those lectures include the opportunity for questions and discussion, either during or following the lectures, depending on the lecturer’s preference.
You will also take part in three 1-hour tutorial sessions, coordinated by Teaching Assistants (TAs). During these tutorials, you will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversations about various research topics. Alongside the TAs, the lecturers will also occasionally participate in the tutorials.

Course load

  • 3 x 1.5 hours of lectures (0.4 ec);

  • 3 x 1.5 hours of tutorials (1 ec);

  • Ca. 150 pages of literature (1.1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Multiple choice exam (100%).

A retake of the exam is only possible in case of a fail (in compliance with our teaching rules and regulations), and only when the requirements of attendance have been met.

Compensation between the grades of World Archaeology 3.1 and World Archaeology 3.2 is only possible if the individual grades are a 5.0 or higher.

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Deadlines for assignments are included in the course syllabus.

Reading list

Compulsory readings will be posted on the Brightspace in due time.


The Administration Office will register all Archaeology BA1 students in uSis for their lectures and tutorials.
If you are not in Archaeology BA1, you can register for this course by e-mailing the Administration Office. Use your uMail, messages sent from private mail accounts cannot be verified and will not be processed.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace.

The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. A. (Alex) Geurds.


Compulsory attendance during lectures and tutorials. Upon missing more than one lecture/tutorial you will be excluded from the exam.