nl en

Biomolecular Archaeology


Admission requirements

  • 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.


Archaeology increasingly relies on studies of organic and inorganic molecules to understand key aspects of the past.
This course will introduce some major bioarchaeological methods (e.g., aDNA, proteomics, lipid and other residue analyses, spectroscopy (FTIR, Raman, etc.), microremains, etc.).

We will cover their basic principles, potentials, and limitations, the types of archaeological materials that they can be applied to, as well as the unique insights that they can provide.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the molecules that are of use for archaeology;

  • Present the basic underlying theory and principles of the different methods/approaches;

  • Critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the different methods;

  • Justify which method or combination of methods are most appropriate for answering various types of research questions;

  • Consider the future potential of various methods in archaeology;

  • Describe how to prepare archaeological material for analyses using these methods;

  • Interpret different types of biomolecular data.


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

Lectures that include introductory content on the underlying chemistry and biology of the molecules under study, presented via relevant case studies.
The lectures will be followed by a structured question/answer session, and/or a tutorial during which raw data is analysed.

Assessment method

  • Weekly discussion / tutorial (50%) (10% each x 5 in total);

  • Final exam (50%).

All of the weekly discussions / tutorials must be completed in order to pass the course. Only the final exam can be retaken.

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.

Reading list

To be announced.


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 dr. A.G. (Amanda) Henry.


Compulsory attendance.