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Archaeology of the Andes



Bachelor year 3.

Admission requirements

Basic level of knowledge on the Archaeology of South America (equivalent to Archaeology BA1 World Archaeology: Archaeology of the Americas).


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 have 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 decolonising 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.

Set-up of the course:
Four-hour weekly lecture and discussion.

Course objectives

Ability to

  • Summarise the archaeological sequence of the Andean past;

  • Identify key sites and material cultural styles in the Andean region;

  • Utilise satellite imagery to locate and describe known and potential archaeological sites;

  • Compare and evaluate competing claims in the recent scholarly literature;

  • Constructively critique a museum exhibit;

  • Connect current debates within Andean archaeology to wider anthropological discussions and to issues of contemporary concern.

Time schedule

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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Discussion.

Course load

  • Lectures (1 ec);

  • Final essay of 2,500 words (1.5 ec);

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

Assessment method

  • Weekly assignments (50%);

  • Discussion points (20%);

  • Final essay of max. 2,500 words (30%).

The retake consists of writing an essay of max. 2,500 words on a new topic.

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:

  • Moseley, M. & M. Heckenberger. 2013. Ch.17: From Village to Empire in South America, in The Human Past, 3rd edition (ed. C. Scarre), Thames and Hudson, pp. 641-667.

Introductory readings for this course will include:

  • Moore, J. 2014. Ch.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. Ch.2: "Space, Time, and Form in the Central Andes", in The Ancient Central Andes. Routledge, 23-50.

Further readings will be published on BlackBoard.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.

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


For more information about his course, please contact dr. N. (Noa) Corcoran-Tadd


Compulsory attendance.