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Imperial Powers, Global Cultures


Admission requirements

World Archaeology 3 obtained.


This course explores the archaeology of empires and early globalisations, and their impact across the world.
It consists of two parts; the first focusing on empires and similar large socio-political projects, the second on associated processes of globalisation and other intensive culture contact phenomena.

After an introduction of definitions, theories, and approaches, in each part a series of case studies is presented. In line with their specialisations, a cross-section of early empires from the Americas, Europe, the Near East and Asia are discussed by various experts from our Faculty.
We study the large-scale punctuated material connections visible in several moments in time, from the Bronze Age up into early modern times.

The course takes a comparative perspective, inviting students to identify common patterns and developments, whereas explanations for different trajectories will be explored in reference to different natural, climatic, technological and cultural conditions and challenges.

Course set-up

The course consists of 2-hour lectures in the morning, followed by autonomous study of literature (1 or 2 papers per session) and optional weekly tutorials to discuss reading materials on the basis of questions.

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 and different motivations for imperial expansion;

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

  • Gain insight into the links between empires and processes of globalisation;

  • 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 MyTimetable.
Log in with your ULCN account, and add this course using the 'Add timetable' button.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Autonomous study;

  • Tutorials (optional).

Course load

  • 24 hours of seminar (1 ec);

  • 350 pages of literature (2,5 ec);

  • Short assignments (1,5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Assignments (40%);

  • Final exam with multiple choice and essay questions (60%).

Following Faculty policy, you should obtain at least a 5,0 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.

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

The reading list will be distributed 2 weeks prior to 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 PhD or dr. A. (Alex) Geurds.


Compulsory attendance.