nl en

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 provides a selective and cursory first overview of the archaeology of the American hemisphere from initial settling to the start of European colonisation.
Across the Americas 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 glimpse into some areas of the Americas, known to us through a long legacy of archaeological work, in part also centered 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 Middle and Late 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 centered around Middle America, providing regional introductions to the cultural areas of Mesoamerica and southern Central America, with a passing reference to the principal South American cultural areas.

In this course, we will begin to create an understanding of the features of archaeology in the Americas, underscoring the different areas and regions and the multiple scales of analysis.
The course will also include consideration of the rich contemporary variety of national and socio-cultural contexts in the Americas, highlighting the relevance of current societal problems and challenges.

Course set-up

Three lectures and three tutorial sessions, over three 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 regarding the course 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 three lectures of approximately two hours each on the three individual subjects of Area Introduction, Mesoamerica, and the Isthmo-Colombian Area. 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.

Assessment method

  • Multiple choice exam (100%).

A retake of the exam is only possible in case of a failing grade (in compliance with the 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 Brightspace in due time.


The Administration Office will register all Archaeology BA1 students in uSis for their lectures, tutorials and exams in semester 1 and semester 2.

However for exams, confirmation through MyStudymap is mandatory.
No confirmation = no participation!

If you are not a BA1 student, but want to take this course, please contact the Administration Office.

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

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


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


  • Compulsory attendance during tutorials. Upon missing more than one tutorial you will be excluded from the exam;

  • This course can be taken as an optional course, Contract course, or Study Abroad/Exchange course, but only in combination with World Archaeology 3.1: Historical Archaeology.