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World Archaeology 2.1: The Americas



Bachelor year 1.


The lecture series World Archaeology gives an outline of the deep history of humans and society from our early ancestors to the more complex societies in the world. The role of material culture in society is discussed and shown in many regions and periods. Comparisons between different regions and scales allow the student to understand connections between the local and the global.

People used material culture to shape their world. At the same time people were shaped by the material culture they created. This type of data can be used to understand past societies, but needs to be treated with care.

This course focuses on the archaeology of the Americas.

Lectures may incidentally be replaced by excursions.
The book The Human Past is used throughout the course, supplemented by additional literature.

Set-up of the course:
Each meeting, a 2-hour lecture on the subject of that particular day will be followed by a 2-hour tutorial that discusses a particular aspect in depth and on the basis of additional literature. These tutorials will take place in smaller groups and are guided by a teaching assistant.
After the tutorial, a 2-hour class of embedded learning will provide you with more in-depth knowledge of the subject and, if possible, hands-on and practical training concerning the subject. The day is concluded by making an assignment that has been prepared in the tutorial.

Course objectives

  • Basic knowledge of the deep history of the Americas;

  • Basic understanding of contrasts and different perspectives on World Archaeology themes;

  • Basic understanding of the current debates and challenges in archaeology;

  • Basic understanding of how people used material culture to shape their world and how their world was shaped by material culture;

  • Understanding the nature and variety of archaeological evidence, such as tools, household items, visual material culture and art, structures of houses, burials, ecological changes and genetic variations;

  • Knowledge of the nature of archaeological data and the regional and temporal variations in settlements, economies, and cultural organisation;

  • General knowledge of and insight into technological, social and cultural developments in time per region (in burial rituals, settlements, economic developments, social organisation).


Course schedule details can be found in the BA1 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Tutorials, in which students work under supervision on assignments on the literature and practice their knowledge;

  • Excursions (museum visits).

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 8 days of meetings (1 ec);

  • 140 pages of literature (1 ec);

  • Assignments (0.5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Final written exam (65%);

  • 7 written assignments (35%).

Compensation within this course, between the two exams, is possible according to the rules stated in the Education and Examination Regulations (OER) (minimum grade 5.0).
Retakes of the exams are only possible in case of a fail (conform our teaching rules and regulations) and only when the requirements of the attendance and assignments are met. Retakes for assignments are not possible.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA1 examination schedule.

Reading list

  • C. Scarre (ed.), The Human Past. World Prehistory & the Development of Human Societies. Thames & Hudson, 3rd edition (2013);

  • Various additional articles.


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.

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 dr. J.E. (Jason) Laffoon.


Compulsory attendance during tutorials.