nl en

Worldview and ritual 1


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Degree students (including Dutch BA graduates): BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.

SAP and Exchange Students: BA degree. Admission only after formal application.


This seminar provides an interpretive study of ancient visual culture as an expression of the knowledge, concepts and religious worldview of Native American cultures. The content of the course also pays attention to living cultural traditions and indigenous perspectives, as well as to historical accounts, as means of a better approach.
This year, the focus will be on the relationship between people and their dead relatives, between the living and their ancestors. Keywords for this course are: ancestors, worship, funerary rituals, celebrations to the dead, the Other World.
General theoretical and analytical literature for such topics will be provided, so students are encouraged to apply it to their specific area of interest. The second block will open space for student presentations (i.e. PowerPoint or poster formats), thus allowing practical or critical development of the concepts mentioned previously.


OpenCourseWare displays elements of bachelor and master programmes provided at Leiden University, including the courses’ content, lectures, literature, and background information on the lecturers.
The courses’ content and materials are free to use.
See the OpenCourseWare page for this course.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of current research and debates in visual culture as expression of the knowledge, concepts and religious worldview of Native American cultures;

  • Ability to identify and critically assess current research and literature on Native American cultures and voice one’s well-argumented opinion;

  • Ability to connect archaeological and iconological research questions with research concerning living Native American cultures, under a general theoretical perspective concerning ritual and religion;

  • Improving the ability to write a paper on a specific research topic, with critical assessment of the literature and one’s own well-argumented opinion, making use of the relevant literature and the information provided by the different presentations;

  • Ability to choose a research topic, find relevant literature, present this via a PowerPoint or poster presentation and to handle a stimulating discussion afterwards.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14×2 hours of lectures;

  • 280 pages of literature;

  • Essay/paper.


Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Seminar with analysis of examples of Native American visual culture, historical and/or ethnographic data, including discussions of methodological and theoretical issues.

Assessment method

  • Active participation in discussion;

  • Small written assignments to be posted on Blackboard;

  • Short final paper (max. 2,000 words);

  • PowerPoint or poster presentation.

Assessment deadline

The paper deadline is 19 November 2012.

Reading list

Various sources, monographs and articles, which in part will be assigned during class, and in part have to be identified by the students themselves (library/internet search).

See Blackboard for further indications of literature and assignments.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contractonderwijs: 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).

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact A. Rojas Martinez Gracida MA.