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Archaeology of Middle America


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

World archaeology 2 and Academische vaardigheden obtained.


Middle America (Mexico and Central America) is one of two regions in the Americas which witnessed the rise of complex early state societies. Alongside a high number and diversity of archaeological sites and early settlements, also monumental ceremonial centers with pyramidal structures, plazas, ballcourts, tombs, carved stones, frescoes, goldwork, mosaics, painted books and so on, were present.

In Early Colonial times, many chronicles and other historical documents were produced in Spanish and native languages, providing detailed information about the pre-Hispanic religious expressions, social organisation and material culture. In contemporary times, indigenous peoples in the region preserve to a large extent their languages, cultural practices, techniques and material culture.
This course offers a chronological overview from the earliest ceremonial centres until the Spanish conquest (AD 1521), with a theoretical focus on visual culture and the archaeology related to worldview, religion, and ritual.
Special attention will be given to current themes and practices (survey, excavation, analysis) in Mexican archaeology.

Course objectives

  • Ability to date and understand the most characteristic elements (sites, monuments and artefacts) of the Central and Southern Mexican archaeological record;

  • Ability to form an opinion on the archaeological themes presented in literature and information given during classes;

  • Ability to conduct research and discuss general archaeological themes of this cultural region.

Ects distribution

  • 2×7 hours of lecture;

  • 280 pages of literature;

  • Assignments.


Course schedule details can be found in the bachelor 3 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Interactive lectures with assignments and reports.

Assessment method

  • Written exam;

  • Blackboard assignments;

  • Written and drawn assignments.

Assessment deadline

The assignments have weekly deadlines.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

Before the start of the course, refresh your overview knowledge by studying:

  • C. Scarre, The Human Past. New York: Thames and Hudson (2005). Chapter 16: Mesoamerican Civilization, pp. 594-639.

Literature to be studied during the course:

  • D.L. Nichols & C.A. Pool (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology. New York: Oxford University Press (2012).


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

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

Contact information

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