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Hunter-gatherer Archaeology


Admission requirements

Bachelor's degree in Archaeology, Anthropology, or equivalent obtained.


This course is about our hunter-gatherer past and the archaeology of hunter-gatherers. Topics that will be discussed are:

  • simple vs complex foragers

  • the evolution of subsistence strategies

  • innovative foragers

  • beyond basecamp and hunting stand

  • ethno-historic richness vs ethnographic tyranny

  • monumentality

  • niche construction

  • the ‘giving environment’

The ultimate goal of the course is to explore the current issues in hunter-gatherer archaeology, to focus on innovative approaches and future directions in order to develop new ideas, methods and strategies to archaeological fieldwork.
The regional focus is primarily Western Europe and the Netherlands, but the issues are relevant globally and can be developed for any region of choice. The course is designed to develop your own interest in, perspective of and approach to the hunter-gatherer past.

Course set-up

2-hour meetings, twice a week.
Meetings consist of short introductory lectures, presentations and discussion.

Course objectives

After completion of the course, the student has acquired

  • knowledge of different theoretical perspectives for studying hunter-gatherers;

  • an informed opinion about the category of 'hunter-gatherers' and the relevance of ethnographic foragers for learning about and from past foragers;

  • knowledge of current issues in hunter-gatherer archaeology;

  • knowledge of innovative approaches to hunter-gatherer archaeology.

The student is able to

  • review a current issue for a region of choice based recent scientific publications;

  • formulate a well-argued position on a current debate using recent scientific publications;

  • develop innovative approaches into fieldwork strategies for hunter-gatherer archaeology.


Course schedule details can be found in the MA and MSc time schedule.

Mode of instruction


Course load

  • Lectures and seminars (1 ec);

  • Ca. 280 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Written assignments (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • Participation and discussion (10%);

  • Presentations (20%);

  • Short written assignments (30%);

  • Final essay (40%).

A retake is only possible for the final essay, and only if all other requirements have been met, including attendance and submission of all assignments.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the MA and MSc examination schedule.
The written assignments have weekly deadlines.

Reading list

  • Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers (online access when logged in in the University Library catalogue);

  • Further reading will be published on Brightspace.


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 Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. A. (Alexander) Verpoorte.


Compulsory attendance.