nl en



Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

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


Ethnoarchaeology is currently defined as the study of the social organisation and other ethnological features of present-day societies on the basis of their material culture, in order to draw conclusions about past societies from their material remains.
This course will present and discuss the discipline of Ethnoarchaeology, using South America and the Caribbean as study areas.

First, we will show the relations between ethnographic evidence, ethnographic models and archaeological interpretations in general. We will define the potentials and limitations of ethnographic analogy. Second, the students will be introduced to the main issues on South American and Caribbean Ethnoarchaeology. Third, they will be trained to recognise the relations between archaeological and ethnographic models in archaeological texts. Finally, they will produce a text on a specific topic and area in the Americas using an ethnoarchaoelogical perspective.

The course has a seminar format, thus encouraging active discussions, aided by the literature and small weekly assignments. Students will write a final paper further exploring one of the course topics. RMA-students will be asked to situate the content of their essay into a broader context of study, by comparing their research outcome inside and/or outside the cultural area being treated.
Through the presentations, a methodology will be proposed for communicating research outcomes from the course themes to contemporary and indigenous societies. RMA-students will coordinate and chair these presentation sessions.

Course objectives

  • Ability to read critically and evaluate archaeological texts from an ethnoarchaeological perspective, and to identify the models used by the author. Therefore, the student will understand better how to create her or his own models;

  • Ability to critically assess and elaborate an argumented opinion;

  • Improving the skills to write a paper on a specific research topic, with critical assessment of the literature, making use of the relevant literature and the information provided during the course;

  • Ability to choose a research topic, search relevant literature, present this via a PowerPoint presentation;

  • Ability to handle a stimulating discussion;

  • Gain skills to transmit academic knowledge to non-specialist audiences;

Besides, for RMA students:

  • Sharpen the skills to write a research paper situating the data, methodology or theoretical approach into a broader interregional context.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Essay of max. 2,000 words (1 ects);

  • 20 hours of practical work for making and giving a presentation, including attendance to the presentations of fellow students (1 ects).


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

Mode of instruction

Seminar lecture with active discussions and critical analysis of the literature and material.

Assessment method

  • Small assignments (including 1 reading quizz) (40%);

  • Final essay (max. 2,000 words) (40%);

  • PowerPoint presentation (20%).

Assessment deadline

There are strict weekly deadlines. Presentations will be scheduled in 1 session, before the block ends.

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

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 through library and 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.

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

Contractonderwijs: all information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudents is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact dr. G.U. Ramon Joffre.