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Palaeolithic Europe


Admission requirements

  • BA or BSc degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline;

  • Basic knowledge of ‘deep Prehistory’ (BA level) is required.


This course gives an introduction to the European Palaeolithic record and its wider setting, from the first colonisation of Eurasia by early hominins and ending with the archaeology of Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers.
The course addresses the challenges Palaeolithic archaeologists face trying to make sense of a fragmented fossil and archaeological record, taking into consideration the large-scale taphonomic processes which create archaeological patterns.

The emphasis of the course is on the record of the Neanderthals. A writing assignment will help students to focus on one specific topic within the lecture series and to integrate that with the other issues discussed during the course.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the European Palaeolithic archaeological record, in the wider setting of Pleistocene climate change and the colonisation of the Old World;

  • Insight in the relationship between large-scale physical geographical processes and the formation of the archaeological record;

  • Ability to assess the nature and quality of the archaeological evidence for the European Palaeolithic, and demonstrate the potential and limitations of the data with regard to the key current research questions.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Literature study (required reading before each lecture).

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Assignments (2 ects).

Assessment method

  • Short (weekly) written assignments (40%);

  • Final essay (60%).

The written assignments have weekly deadlines, the final essay needs to be handed in within 4 weeks after the final lecture.

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

Reading list

The reading list will be published on Blackboard.
In preparation for this course, students are advised to study R. Klein’s The Human Career (3rd edition).


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. J.W.M. Roebroeks.