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Advanced Area Specialisation Americas


Admission requirements

  • Admission to the Research Master Archaeology programme;

  • Students from other programmes need to have a background in a relevant discipline (Area Studies or specific regional-cultural study). Alternatively, a bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline and/or regionally relevant cultural focus. Otherwise, please contact dr. Geurds (see 'Contact' below) to assess the possibilities of participating.


This course explores the history of archaeology investigation in major areas of the Americas, and offers a window onto both classic works and contemporary dynamics and emphases in particular national contexts across North, Middle and South America.

Analogous to other Area Specialisation seminars, this course entails lectures in block 1 built around case studies discussing archaeological traditions and practices in a selection of nation-state and regional contexts across the Americas, including, for example, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
These lectures survey the historical roots of archaeological enquiry in the Late Holocene, from early ties to Western colonial entanglement, through the institutionalisation of national schools of archaeology, and the current-day rapidly developing dynamics of commercial, forensic and museum archaeology.

In turn, block 2 will offer students an engagement with research materials. Materials will be distilled from case studies and research projects currently being executed at the Faculty of Archaeology, but may also branch out into other popular fields of archaeological enquiry. The latter can include materials as divergent as rock art corpora; landscape enquiries; objects from museum collections; contested heritage materials; and sculptural objects.
Students will form small research teams to investigate aspects of a well-defined set of materials, outlining a problem and research aim, and reporting on findings in written form through a co-authored text.

Course set-up

Lectures and discussion in a seminar setting in block 1, followed by mini projects designed around interactive analysis and discussion of research materials. Lectures, concentrated in Block 1, will provide introductions to key conditions and characteristics of archaeology in the Americas, including both its historical development as well as its 21st century features and aims.

The course has the dual aim to develop independent research skills and gain a detailed understanding of archaeologies across the Americas. It will ask you to situate yourself in relation to a particular archaeology in the Americas and will assist you in exploring your potential RMA thesis subject.

Course objectives

  • Ability to critically contextualise regional and national developments in archaeological practice across the Americas;

  • Ability to understand contemporary discussion and frameworks of archaeological enquiry across the Americas;

  • Ability to describe and analyse archaeological materials from various contexts in the Americas;

  • Ability to independently conduct a literature review on a set of materials or objects and to evaluate and critique such publications, including relevant theoretical texts;

  • Ability to innovatively manipulate and analyse iconographic and stylistically complex archaeological materials;

  • Ability to plan and execute small co-designed research projects;

  • Ability to convert research insights in research proposal;

  • Ability to work in a team;

  • Ability to clearly present your findings orally to a target audience.


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;

  • Seminar discussions;

  • Tutored workgroups.

Assessment method

  • Attendance and active participation in discussions and assignments, by means of readings, work on mini-project and a presentation on the project results (50%);

  • Written academic research proposal based on mini-project and its results (50%).

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.

Reading list

To be announced in due course.


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 dr. A. (Alex) Geurds.


Compulsory attendance.