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Early Cities: A Comparative Perspective


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

  • West Asia (Politopoulos)

  • the Mediterranean (Revello Lami)

  • 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 West Asia, 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 processes of urbanisation and state formation;

  • Gain insight into the emergence of social inequality;

  • Gain insight into the development of economies and trade;

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

  • Ability to critically evaluate theories on the development of cities and states 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);

  • Bi-weekly group discussions.

Assessment method

  • 3 Assignments (one in every two weeks).

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.


Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.

General information about registration can be found on the Course and Exam Enrolment page.


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


Compulsory attendance.