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Complex Societies


Admission requirements

World Archaeology 2 obtained.


This course focuses on the archaeology of complex urban societies across the globe. After a general introduction on the archaeology of complex societies and urbanisation, lecturers will present a series of regional case studies on

  • the Near East (Politopoulos)

  • the Mediterranean (vacancy)

  • the Americas (Geurds).

We will tackle a number of themes in these sessions, including the emergence of social inequality, class society, and cities, the development of complex economies and long distance trade, and the transformation of cult and religion.

In this course we will discuss conceptual frameworks and theories, and present a number of important datasets through a series of case studies from the Near East, the Mediterranean, and the Americas.

Course set-up

The topics and their regional case studies are introduced in 2-hour lectures. Subsequently students study reading materials. Mini multiple choice wrap-ups will be provided on Brightspace after every class.

Course objectives

  • Gain insight into models and theories applied by archaeologists when investigating complex societies and processes of urbanisation;

  • Gain insight into the emergence of social complexity;

  • Gain insight into the development of economic complexity;

  • Gain insight into the ritual practices and religion in complex societies;

  • Ability to critically evaluate theories on complex societies against archaeological datasets on a general level.


Course schedule details can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Autonomous study;

  • Weekly mini tests (not graded).

Course load

  • 14 hours of seminar;

  • 500 pages of literature;

  • Short assignments.

Assessment method

  • 3 assignments.

Assessment deadlines

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button. To view the assessment deadline(s), make sure to select the course with a code ending in T and/or R.

Deadlines for assignments are included in the course syllabus.

Reading list

Per meeting there will be 1 or 2 papers to read. The reading list will be distributed at the start of the class.


Registration in uSis is mandatory. You can register for this course until 5 days before the first class.

Registration in uSis automatically leads to enrollment in the corresponding Brightspace module. Therefore you do not need to enroll in Brightspace, but make sure to register for this course in uSis.

You are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time. The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, you are not required to do this in uSis.


For more information about this course, please contact A. (Aris) Politopoulos.