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World Archaeology 1.1: Human Origins



Bachelor year 1.


The lecture series World Archaeology gives an outline of the human past from our early ancestors to large-scale and complex societies. Part 1.1 concerns human origins: from the cradle of humankind in Africa to the dispersal to the rest of the world, and the evolution of our own species and its biological and cultural traits.

We will address basic questions about the evolution of bipedality, toolmaking, and brainsize. You will study the archaeological evidence and discuss how early humans made a living. You will learn about key discoveries and important archaeological sites as well as the most important research topics.

Set-up of the course

Daily schedule:
9-11 hrs: lectures Dutch and English
10-12 hrs: tutorial
12-13 hrs: wrap-up / q&a (all students)

Course objectives

Basic knowledge of

  • The chronology, climate and environment of human origins;

  • The most important fossil hominins;

  • Key sites (ca. 10 sites);

  • The main archaeological periods and characteristic artefacts;

  • The chronology and geography of human dispersal.

Ability to

  • Analyse the basic arguments of an archaeological issue or problem from the textbook;

  • Summarise the core of the archaeological problem;

  • Express an opinion based on the arguments (in writing or in discussion with peers).


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Assignments and tutorials, in which students study the literature with a teaching assistant.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 12 hours of lectures/seminars (1 ec);

  • Assignments (0.5 ec);

  • 140 pages of literature (1 ec).

Assessment method

Multiple choice exam (100%).

During the course there will be 3 assignments all students have to submit through BlackBoard. Each assignment can get the student a bonus of 0.2 for their final grade.

A retake of the exam is only possible in case of a fail (in compliance with our teaching rules and regulations) and only when the requirements of attendance and assignments have been met. Compensation between the grades of WA1.1 and WA 1.2 is only possible if the individual grades are a 5.0 or higher.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA1 examination schedule.
Deadlines for assignments are included in the course syllabus.

Reading list

Chapters 2 to 5 of C. Scarre (ed.), The Human Past. World Prehistory & the Development of Human Societies. Thames & Hudson.


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. A. (Alexander) Verpoorte.


Compulsory attendance during lectures and tutorials. Upon missing more than one lecture/tutorial the student will be excluded from the exam.