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Area Specialisation Europe: Pre-Industrial Material Culture From Shipwrecks


Admission requirements



This is a hands-on lecture course with a focus on material culture from shipwrecks dating from 1500 to 1900. We will be working with the best-dated and most well-preserved archaeological collection in the Low Countries and beyond.
After a short introduction to ceramics and the Dutch classification system, you will work with the collection yourself. The focus will be on ceramics and glass, but other artefacts will be touched upon (such as ship’s equipment, personal belongings and navigational equipment).

Although many pottery complexes from urban archaeological contexts have been published, their dating is usually broad. Shipwrecks cannot always be dated to the year, but they can be dated much more precisely than pottery from cesspits.
The determinations made during this course will be entered into the online database system of the Dutch classification system. After verification, the determinations will be made available to ceramic specialists. The work done during the course, therefore, will contribute directly to improving the existing body of knowledge. Furthermore, the determination data will be made available to Batavialand for the Maritime image bank.

You will make your own catalogues for your data report in Adobe InDesign.

Course set-up

Weekly: 1 x 2-hour lecture in Leiden.
Week 1: 4-hour practical in Leiden.
Weeks 2–5: Students will work 1 day a week at Batavialand on material related to their assignment. As logistics allow, students will be able to visit Batavialand either on Wednesday or Thursday.
End of week 5: The deadline for the data report. Students will share their data with the rest of the group.
Week 6: 1 x 2-hour InDesign practical in Leiden.
Week 7: Individual feedback and a poster presentation in Leiden.

Course objectives

Specific knowledge:

  • Introduction to and experience in describing and analysing pre-industrial ceramics;

  • Deep knowledge of the Dutch classification system;

  • Introduction to several material categories.

Academic skills:

  • Experience with primary source material;

  • Experience working with a research group;

  • Writing skills;

  • Introduction to and experience in using Adobe Photoshop and InDesign.


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;

  • Practical sessions;

  • Readings and assignments.

Assessment method

  • Introductory assignment (10%);

  • Reading assignment (10%);

  • Data-report (week 5) (15%);

  • Academic archaeological report based on student’s data report and on the other students' data reports (50%);

  • Poster and poster pitch (week 7) (15%).

In order to pass the course, the academic archaeological report must be a pass. The academic archaeological report is the only assignment that 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.

The assignments have strict weekly deadlines. Please note: extensions on assignments will not be given.

Reading list

To be announced.


See Area Specialisation Europe (enroll for the whole course).


For more information about this course, please contact dr. R.M.R. (Roos) van Oosten.


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • The archaeological collection is kept at Batavialand in Lelystad. Please note that you are responsible for your own transportation to Lelystad. Leiden–Lelystad takes 1 hour by train and then 20 minutes by bus or bike to Batavialand. There is a good public transport connection.