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Material Studies



Bachelor year 1.


This module provides a general overview of the key artefact categories frequently recovered during excavation. You will familiarise yourself with the nature and properties of different materials and will acquire an understanding of different production processes through which artefacts were made.
You will learn to recognise the different materials, identify the main artefact forms and describe key technological features.

Set-up of the course

The day will start with a lecture, followed by a practical session.

Course objectives

Upon completion of the module, students should be able to:

  • Recognise a range of archaeological material and artefacts including pottery, flint, stone, bone and antler;

  • Acquire knowledge of the physical and mechanical properties of different materials;

  • Understand the main production processes of pottery, flint, stone, and various organic materials;

  • Describe artefacts made of these materials from a technological perspective.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals with assignments;

  • Film and some video clips.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 x 1.5 hours of lectures (1.5 ec);

  • 14 x 2 hours of practicals (2 ec);

  • 250 pages of additional literature (1.5 ec).

Assessment method

  • 2 theoretical exams (multiple choice) (60%);

  • 2 practical exams (40%).

Assessment of both the theoretical and practical part takes place after each block.
All exams need to be a pass (>5.0) and the final grade is the (weighed) average of the results of the 2 blocks.

Only failed exams can be retaken. A retake of the practical is only allowed when the attendance requirements have been met.

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

Reading list

  • Hodges, H. 1964 (with reprints). Artifacts. An Introduction to Early Materials and Technology. London. pp. 13-155;

  • Whittaker, J.C. 1994. Flint knapping. Making and Understanding Stone Tools. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 85-126;

  • Syllabus.


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. A.L. (Annelou) van Gijn


  • Compulsory attendance;

  • Lectures will also be taught in Dutch, practicals may not always be supervised by Dutch-speaking instructors.