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Palaeolithic Archaeology


Admission requirements

  • World Archaeology 1.1 and Material Studies obtained;

  • This is a seminar with a limited amount of participants (20 students), for Archaeology students exclusively;

  • This is not an optional course for the Archaeology BA3 programme. If you want to take this course as an extra-curricular course in your programme, you should ask permission from the Board of Examiners. You can only be admitted with permission, with proper argumentation, and only if there are spots left.


This course provides a case study in Paleolithic archaeology as well as hands-on, practical experience with Palaeolithic stone tools.
You will handle handaxes and Levallois cores, Aurignacian bladelet cores and Solutrean leafpoints, Magdalenian burins and some Mesolithic armatures.

After introducing the main theoretical framework for analysing stone tools, we will study the signatures of percussion techniques and ‘read’ the direction and chronology of removals from cores and flakes. Then we will study selected material.

The case study will focus on one scientific paper and discuss the wider scientific context, theoretical background, and aspects such as lithic technology, subsistence, site formation and chronology.

The course is designed for students with an interest in human origins, early prehistory, and stone tools.

Course set-up

Weekly 4-hour seminars/practicals.

Course objectives

Ability to:

  • Recognise and describe the morphology and technological features of stone tools (cores, flakes, blades, as well as retouched tools);

  • Recognise and describe lithic taphonomy (patination, edge damage);

  • Recognise and describe Palaeolithic and Mesolithic tool types;

  • Argue a chronological attribution based on technological and typological features;

  • Document and analyse a lithic assemblage at a basic level;

  • Analyse and discuss a scientific paper.


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

  • Introductory seminars;

  • Practicals;

  • Assignments.

Course load

  • 24 hours of lectures and practicals (1 ec);

  • 200 pages of literature (1,5 ec);

  • Portfolio of assignments (2,5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Portfolio (individual) (70%);

  • Presentation(s) (30%).

Compensation is possible in accordance with regulations (Onderwijs- en Examen Reglement / Course and Examination Regulations).

The retake consists of improving the portfolio to the ‘pass’ level and/or a new presentation.

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 available on Brightspace.


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.

Start registration for the BA2 seminars:

  • Series 1: 27 September 2021, 07:00 hrs

  • Series 2: 17 January 2022, 07:00 hrs

  • Series 3: 28 February 2022, 07:00 hrs


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


Compulsory attendance.