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Experimental archaeology


Admission requirements

Material studies 1 obtained, or possessing a similar level of knowledge about material culture.


Experimental archaeology is an important research tool for archaeologists. By creating analogies, experiments help us to gain insight in past technologies, activities, processes and objects. Experiments can also be used to design and evaluate archaeological methods.
This course explores the value of experimental archaeology as a research tool and as a method for public outreach.

The use of experimental archaeology as a scientific method requires knowledge of the correct application of the method of experimental research and underlying theory. It also requires knowledge of materials and technologies. To some extent this can be learned in theory, but hands-on experience is indispensable.

During the lectures you will be taught the necessary academic skills and you will gain theoretical knowledge on how to work with important materials such as wood, metal, stone, clay, plant fibers, skin, bone and antler.

During the 7 practical sessions you will receive an introduction in ancient crafts (flint knapping, blacksmithing, pottery, basketry, wood working, fire making, bone working, butchering and food preparation) working with a variety of tools (axes and adzes, knives, scrapers, chisels, bellows and awls) and materials (flint and stone, skin, antler and bone, bark, clay and plant fibers).

Students will have to design and conduct a group experiment that will be presented in an individual report.
This report should include:
1. The research proposal and a report of the setup and execution of the experiment, and
2. The theoretical framework, including references, that shows how this experiment may contribute to our understanding of past societies.
Feedback will be provided during the experiments.

Course objectives

  • Increased knowledge about how objects are made and used;

  • Knowledge of and insight in the experimental and analytical methods with which to derive information from artefacts;

  • Ability to explain the role of experimental archaeology in scientific research and public outreach;

  • Ability to develop an experiment in cooperation with peers.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals;

  • Films.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7x2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 14 hours of practical (0.5 ec);

  • 120 pages of literature / 2 hours of film (1 ec).

  • Group experiment + individual report including a short scientific framework of 2,500-3,000 words (1.5 ec).

Assessment method

Essay (100%).

A retake is only possible when the requirements for practicals (including attendance) have been met.

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

Reading list

To be announced.


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 mr. D.R. Pomstra.


Compulsory attendance at the practicals and presentations.