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World Archaeology 2.2: The Classical World



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 for many regions and periods. Comparisons between different regions and scales allow you 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 ancient world in its global context, and includes a lecture day devoted to the archaeology of Egypt.

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

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 deep history of the Classical World;

  • 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 and art).


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:

  • 16 contact hours;

  • 38 hours of preparation/literature/excursion.

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 (conform our teaching rules and regulations) and only when the requirements of attendance and assignments are met. Compensation between the grades of WA2.1 and WA2.2 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

  • 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. M.J. (Miguel John) Versluys.


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