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Hunter-gatherers and early farmers



All over the world, people have swapped their time-honoured hunter-gatherer mode of existence for a sedentary way of living based on agriculture. This crucial step – Childe has spoken of the ‘Neolithic revolution’ – opened the way to the existence of modern societies such as ours.

Two archaeologically important regions, both with a strong tradition in Dutch archaeological research, are the ancient Near East and the Caribbean area. The prehistoric societies in these two regions reveal a series of intriguing contrasts and correspondences. In this course, we obtain a historico-cultural overview of the Near East and the Caribbean during the transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer. In this course we will explore the socio-political and ideological composition of the prehistoric societies that inhabited these regions.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the cultural history of the Near East and the Caribbean during the transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer;

  • Insight into the primary interpretative discussions with respect to this transition, specifically around the themes of village composition, domestication, trade and exchange, ritual and social organisation;

  • Knowledge of current literature, and the current archaeological debate on these themes;

  • Comparative insights with respect to correspondences and differences both in cultural developments in the two regions as well as in archaeological approaches.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction


Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 28 hours of lectures (14 Near East & 14 Caribbean) (2 ects);

  • 420 pages of literature (3 ects).

Assessment method

Written examination (open-book questions).

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 examination schedule.

Reading list

Literature will be made available prior to the lectures via BlackBoard.


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.

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

Registration 'Contractonderwijs'

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


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. P.M.M.G. Akkermans.


Compulsory attendance.