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Archaeology of the Andes


Admission requirements

Basic level of knowledge on the Archaeology of South America (equivalent to the BA1 course World archaeology 2).


The Andes continues to be an area of fascination for travelers from outside the continent, eager to encounter an exotic landscape of rainforests, mountain peaks, and hidden cities.
In this course, we push aside this romantic view to explore the true cultural and ecological diversity of a region with over 15,000 years of human history. Following the explosion of research over the past fifty years by Latin American and foreign scholars, we become increasingly aware of the complexity of the area’s past.

In this course, we will explore the archaeology of the Andes as a dynamic field of discussion and controversy, with numerous debates over topics like the peopling of the New World, the emergence of inequality, radical cultural difference, and the question of decolonizing archaeology.
Many of these debates extend well beyond the academy, relating directly to issues of contemporary importance including environmentalism, sustainable agriculture, tourism, indigenous rights, and climate change.

Course objectives

  • Understand the diversity of socio-cultural formations in the Andean past, from the peopling of the continent to the legacies of colonialism;

  • Develop an understanding of Andean archaeology as it relates to wider anthropological debates and issues of contemporary concern in Latin America and beyond;

  • Strengthen skills of independent scholarship.

Time schedule

Course schedule details can be found in the BA3 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Discussion.

Course load

  • 7x2 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • Final essay of 2,000 words (1.5 ec);

  • 300 pages of literature and associated weekly assignments (2.5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Weekly assignments (40%);

  • Active in-class participation in the weekly discussion (30%);

  • Final essay of max. 2,000 words (30%).

The retake consists of writing an essay.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA3 examination schedule.

Reading list

Before starting the seminar, refresh your overview knowledge by studying:

  • Scarre, C. 2005. Chapter 17: From Village to Empire in South America, in The Human Past, New York: Thames and Hudson, pp. 640-677.

Introductory readings for this course will include:

  • Moore, J. 2014. Chapter 2. The Brave New World: Environmental Diversity in South America, in A Prehistory of South America: Ancient Cultural Diversity on the Least Known Continent, University Press of Colorado, pp. 29-62

  • Quilter, J. 2013. The Ancient Central Andes. Routledge, ch.2.

  • Heggarty, P, and D. Beresford‐Jones. 2010. Agriculture and language dispersals. Current Anthropology 51.2: 163-191.

Further readings will be published on BlackBoard closer to the beginning of the academic year.


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 his course, please contact dr. N.Corcoran-Tadd


Compulsory attendance.