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Environmental history of the Near East


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

BA-degree in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.


This course provides an introduction to the way humans exploited their environment in the past. This includes both factors that are determined by the environment, and factors that are associated with economy and health in particular.
Basic concepts that are discussed include: origin and development of agriculture; domestication; climate and soil (related to irrigation and fertilisation); food and fuel; yield, storage and transport; labour in relation to agricultural practices; food preparation.

The course also deals with the way archaeobotanical research can contribute to the reconstruction of the former landscape and how humans changed that landscape.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of some central concepts;

  • Ability to explain causal relationships between those concepts in relation to the exploitation of the landscape;

  • Knowledge of models that provide insight in the origins of agriculture, the selection of crops, and sampling strategy in relation to the reconstruction of agricultural practices;

  • Ability to evaluate theories related to agriculture and food economy based on archaeobotanical evidence.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of lectures;

  • 420 pages of literature;

  • Essay, 1,500-1,800 words.


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

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Written examination;

  • Essay.

Assessment deadline

The exam date can be found in the exam schedule.
The essay needs to be handed in max. 1 month after the end of the lecture series.

Reading list

R.T.J. Cappers & R. Neef, Handbook of Plant Palaeoecology. Groningen: Barkhuis (2012).


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

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr R.T.J. Cappers.