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Pleistocene Technology


Admission requirements

  • Material Studies 1 obtained;

  • This is a seminar with a limited number 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 provides insights into the diverse theoretical and analytical approaches to the study of Pleistocene technology.
Humans and technology are tied up in an indissoluble entanglement that shaped the human world as we know it now. The mechanism that creates our contemporary world cannot be understood without a true comprehension of the crucial role that technology plays in shaping human societies.

Questions such as “When did technology begin?” and “How did technology evolve?” are fundamental questions that we should try to answer if we want to be able to imagine a different future. Due to its imperishable nature, stone is in fact the only material that allows studying technological changes in a long-term perspective over 3 million years.
Lithic study can be considered as the most powerful tool for unveiling the long-term trajectories of technological change and their interconnection with human evolution.

The course will focus on documenting, describing, and interpreting stone tool technology, combining traditional approaches (chaine opératoire reconstruction, attributes analysis) and emerging approaches (3D scanning, network analysis).
A demonstration of how stone tools can be produced will be given. At the end of the course, you will be able to analyse, interpret and document a stone tool assemblage at a basic level.

Course set-up

Lectures will address main themes in Pleistocene human technology and current ways of reconstructing it with a focus on lithic technology.
Lectures will be followed by practical sessions that will take place on campus once a week. Course lectures and practical sessions will be instrumental for the students to gather the necessary skills to describe a small lithic assemblage.

Course objectives

Learning goals

  • Knowledge of the key concepts and schools of thought used to reconstruct lithic technology in the deep past;

  • Learning and practicing how to document stone tool assemblages using chaine opératoire reconstruction and attributes analysis;

  • Knowledge of how 3D models of lithic artefacts can be obtained using an Artec spider 3d scanner.


  • Selecting and applying the appropriate methods and techniques for the study of a knapped lithic assemblage;

  • Sorting large amount of information, and organising it in a meaningful way;

  • Practicing the description of methods, volumetric concept and percussion technique used in the past to knap stone tools;

  • Planning, organising and executing the study of a small lithic assemblage and producing a basic report.


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;

  • Assignment.

Assessment method

  • Participation and discussion (20%);

  • Presentation during the course – Individual and/or group presentation (15 min) about a specific topic (30%);

  • Final assignment - Students will produce a study report of a small lithic assemblages (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.

Reading list

To be found on Brightspace.


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

Registration will take place with the use of forms. These will be e-mailed by the study advisers to all BA2 students and pre-master students at the beginning of October 2023.

The Administration Office will register all Archaeology BA2 students in uSis for their seminar exams. However, confirmation of these exams in MyStudymap is mandatory. No confirmation = no participation!


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. M.A. (Marie) Soressi.


  • Compulsory attendance: Attendance will be administrated by each lecturer. Students can miss no more than one class;

  • The lecturers are researchers experienced in material culture study and currently involved in the Neandertal Legacy project led by Marie Soressi.