nl en

Imperial Powers, Global Cultures



Bachelor year 2.

Admission requirements

All BA1 World Archaeology courses obtained.


This course explores the archaeology of empires and early globalisation, and their impact across the world, with a focus on Eurasia. After an introduction to definitions and approaches, a series of empires and other intensive large-scale culture-contact phenomena (‘globalisations’) are studied in more detail under the guidance of various experts from the Faculty of Archaeology.

In line with the research foci of these lecturers, we discuss various empires that developed between the Bronze Age, up to the early modern period. Beginning with the Assyrian Empire, we will study the varied political, military, social and economic impacts these empires had across the Mediterranean, Near East, Central Asia and East Asia. Special attention is devoted to the large-scale punctuated material connections they enabled, as visible in the archaeological record.

The course takes a comparative perspective, seeking to trace commonalities in the scale, repertoires of rule, and economic and cultural impacts of empires across time and space. At the same time, explanations for differing trajectories will be explored in reference to contrasting natural, climatic, technological and cultural conditions and challenges.

Set-up of the course

The course consists of 2-hour lectures in the morning, followed by autonomous study of literature (1 or 2 papers per session) and optional tutorials in the afternoon. Besides 3 main assignments, there are mandatory questions related to the readings to be answered through Brightspace.

Course objectives

  • Gain general knowledge of a broad array of empires and instances of globalisation in world history, and their key characteristics;

  • Gain insight into the social, economic and cultural impact of empires, for the subjected peoples and areas as well as the imperial powers themselves;

  • Gain insight into models and theories applied by archaeologists when investigating empires and other intensive large-scale culture-contact phenomena;

  • Gain insight into the socio-political and economic workings of empires;

  • Gain insight into different motivations for imperial expansion;

  • Gain insight into common patterns and developments of conquest, violence, and consolidation;

  • Ability to critically read and review an academic paper;

  • Ability to concisely report such reviews in written format.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Autonomous study;

  • Tutorials (optional).

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 24 hours of seminar (1 ec);

  • 420 pages of literature (3 ec);

  • Short assignments (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • 3 assignments (40%);

  • Final exam with essay questions (60%).

Following faculty policy, the student should obtain at least a 5 for both the assignments and the exam, and a final grade of at least 5,5 to pass. If a retake is required, only the assessment which received an insufficient score will be retaken.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 examination schedule.
Deadlines for assignments are included in the course syllabus.

Reading list

Per meeting there will be 1 or 2 chapters/papers to read. The reading list will be distributed 2 weeks prior to the start of the class. Make sure you are registered for this Brightspace module in time.


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.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. T.C.A. (Tymon) de Haas.


Compulsory attendance.