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Palaeolithic Europe


Admission requirements

BA or BSc degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline with a demonstrable focus on and basic knowledge (BA3 level) of early Prehistory.


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 archaeological and fossil 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 you 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 to 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 and MSc 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 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Assignments (2 ec).

Assessment method

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

  • Final essay (60%).

The written assignments have weekly deadlines.
The deadline for the final essay can be found on the website.

A retake is only possible for the final essay and only if all other requirements have been met, including attendance and submission of all assignments.

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

Reading list

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


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.

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. J.W.M. Roebroeks.


Compulsory attendance.