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World Archaeology 3.1: Human Origins



Bachelor year 1.


The lecture series World Archaeology gives an outline of the deep history of humans from our early ancestors to the complex societies of the present. The course pays attention to the wide variety of cultural adaptations that characterise the human niche and how these vary in time and space.

The book The Human Past is used throughout the course, supplemented by additional literature.

Set-up of the course:
In general the World Archaeology modules are designed as follows:

  • 1 hour instruction/lecture

  • 5 hours working on assignments (supervised)

  • 1 hour wrap-up lecture

Course objectives

  • Basic knowledge of the biological and cultural adaptations of our early ancestors, up to and including the lifeways of (sub-) recent hunter-gatherers;

  • Basic knowledge of the methods palaeoanthropologists use to obtain data on the development of the human niche;

  • Basic understanding of how the science of palaeoanthropology “works”, and how the time-scales used in this discipline differs from the ones used in historical and social sciences.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Assignments and tutorials, in which students work on assignments under supervision of teaching assistants, as well as the literature they need to study for this course.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 2 parts of 8 days each (ca.16 hours);

  • ca. 140 pages of literature for each part (ca. 22 hours extra).

Assessment method

  • Assignments;

  • Multiple choice exam.

Retakes of the exam is only possible in case of a fail (conform our teaching rules and regulations) and only when the requirements of 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 prof. dr. J.W.M. (Wil) Roebroeks.


Compulsory attendance during lectures and tutorials, and during presentations of Pecha Kuchas.