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Environmental history of the Near East


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Bachelor’s degree.


This course provides an introduction to the way humans in the past exploited their environment. This includes both the 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, and labour in relation to agricultural practices and food preparation.
The course also deals with the way archaeobotanical research can contribute to the reconstruction of the former landscape and how humans changed the landscape.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the central concepts and ability to explain causal relationships between these 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:

  • 7×2 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

Lectures, with student participation.

Assessment method

Essay (1,500-1,800 words).

Assessment deadline

The essay needs to be handed in within 1 month after the end of the lecture series.
Exam dates and assessment deadlines can be found in the examination schedule.

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.