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Area Specialisation Europe: Showcasing Prehistoric Research at the Faculty of Archaeology


Admission requirements



This is course instilling theoretical and practical skills crucial to conducting archaeological research in Prehistoric Europe (and elsewhere) in the context of currently running research programmes at the Faculty of Archaeology.

Seminars will consist of lectures and written assignments, introducing some of the important concepts involving the definition of large-scale Prehistoric eras, the reconstruction of Prehistoric societies, the temporal dimension of human behavior and the study of functionality of Prehistoric technology.

The seminars are combined with practical activities. These cover the technical and functional analysis of stone tools, the methodology of analysis, chronological analysis as well as network analysis.
For each seminar, participants will produce a brief 1-2 page essay. Each participant will select one of the weekly assignments to complete a 5-page essay as the final assessment.

Due to limited lab facilities, space on the course is limited.

Course set-up

The schedule may change in response to lab availability, staff availability and curation requirements for specific material collections.

Week 1
Lecture and practical. Stylistic and functional constraints on implements and their archaeological implications. Recognition of functional traces on lithics and distinction between functional and post-depositional traces.

Week 2
Lecture and practical. Characterising upper-level eras in the Stone Age. Focus on large-scale periodisation, as well as transgressive phenomena (e.g. early instances of “precocious” technology, late persistence of old techniques). Familiarisation with recording systems and material.

Week 3
Lecture and practical. Identification of populations with stone tools (e.g. Dusseldorp & Lombard 2021). Special focus on Middle and Upper Palaeolithic stone tools and indications for transitional assemblages.

Week 4
Lecture and practical. Chronology and dating issues. The ins and outs of Radiocarbon dating and Luminescence dating are discussed. Basics of OxCal online.

Week 5
Network analysis to reveal Prehistoric social organisation, showcasing the Vidi project “The Talking Dead” by Dr. Bourgeois. Practical analysis on the burials of a small region focusing on gender roles in interment practice.

Week 6
Pick an assignment of one of the previous weeks to write a final essay of about 5 pages (excl. references, illustrations, tables). Q&A session to assist with assignment.

Week 7
Final assignment is handed in.

Course objectives

Specific knowledge

  • Understanding of criteria for period characterisation in Stone Age archaeology;

  • Understanding of lithic functional analysis;

  • Familiarity with radiocarbon calibration and establishing chronologies.

Academic skills

  • Experience with material culture classification;

  • Setting up an analytical database and populating it with data;

  • Performing basic network analysis;

  • Performing calibration of radiocarbon dates;

  • Detecting functional traces on material culture;

  • Academic reporting.


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

  • 5 x 2 hours of lectures;

  • 5 x 2 hours of practical sessions;

  • Readings and assignments.

Assessment method

  • Contribution to discussion (10%);

  • Seminar assignments (40%);

  • Final assignment (50%).

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 are strict weekly deadlines for the assignments. Please note that extensions on assignments will not be given.

Reading list

To be announced.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. G.L. (Gerrit) Dusseldorp.


Compulsory attendance.