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Archaeology of the Americas


Admission requirements

  • World Archaeology 3.2 obtained;

  • This is a seminar with a limited amount of participants (20 students), for Archaeology students exclusively;

  • This is not an optional course for the Archaeology BA3 programme. If you want to take this course as an extra-curricular course in your programme, you should ask permission from the Board of Examiners. You can only be admitted with permission, with proper argumentation, and only if there are spots left.


This course will focus on archaeological research in the Americas, paying special attention to recent studies, advances, and debates.
The sessions will take the form of lectures and discussions, with an emphasis on the archaeology of the circum-Caribbean region and surrounding mainland areas.

You will be encouraged to develop critical reflections in a series of scholarly discussions which will form the basis of a final essay paper.

Course set-up

14 hours of lectures, focusing on the following themes:

  • First migrations, Archaic occupation, and neolithisation in the Caribbean islands;

  • Human ecology, animal dispersal, and husbandry practices in the Caribbean islands;

  • Human-animal interactions in the precolonial Caribbean;

  • Settlement patterns, and lifeways and deathways in the Caribbean islands;

  • Shamanism in the Caribbean and Amazonia (2 lectures);

  • New World encounters in a globalising world.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students are expected to achieve the following objectives:

  • To assess different types of archaeological evidence concerning the archaeology of the Americas / circum-Caribbean;

  • To critically reflect upon the relevant literature and associated themes and to formulate concise discussion points using academic writing;

  • To understand the major current debates concerning the archaeology of the Americas / circum-Caribbean;

  • To concisely and critically summarise current research findings concerning the archaeology of the Americas/circum-Caribbean.


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

  • 7 Lectures (7 x 2 hours with 1 lecture, 5 min break, 40 min discussion);

  • Literature;

  • Weekly assignments (discussion points).

Assessment method

  • Discussion points (30%);

  • Participation in class discussion (10%);

  • Final essay (60%).

The retake will consist of (re)writing the essay.

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.

There will be a weekly assessment of the discussion points + participation in the class discussions. The final essay will be handed in 2 weeks after the end of the course. Additional optional sessions will be organised to support the development of ideas for the final essay.

Reading list

Background reading (non-compulsory):

  • Bérard, B. 2019. "About Boxes and Labels: A Periodization of the Amerindian Occupation of the West Indies, in: Journal of Caribbean Archaeology 19:51-67;

  • Hofman, C.L. & F.W.M. Keehnen (eds.). 2019. Material Encounters and Indigenous Transformations in the Early Colonial Americas: Archaeological Case Studies. Brill, Leiden;

  • Keegan, W.F. & C.L. Hofman. 2017. The Caribbean Before Columbus. New York: Oxford University Press.

250 pages of compulsory literature will be announced at a later stage, as we aim to include the most recent publications as possible. Readings will be associated to lecture themes.


Registration start dates for the BA2 seminars differ from the registration dates of the regular courses.

Registration will take place with the use of Jotforms, which will be e-mailed to all BA2 students shortly.


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. C.L. (Corinne) Hofman.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • This course will be taught in hybrid form (some lectures online via Zoom, some lectures on campus).