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Reading Texts: Formative processes in Asia from Prehistory to Early Historic periods


Compulsory attendance


Prerequisites and restrictions

BA degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.
SAP and exchange students: admission after approval by the Graduate School of Archaeology.


This seminar will assess the latest research concerning the important formative processes that shaped the Asian past—for example changing hunter-gatherer lifestyles; the transition to agriculture; the development of new technologies; the processes behind urbanisation and early state formation; social or ideological changes and their impact (with the exception of issues of exchanges, trade and migration, which will be dealt with in the “Interaction” course, next semester). The reading texts will also include controversial topics, e.g. texts with different or opposing viewpoints or methodologies.
Per weekly seminar, one particular topic will be chosen. Students will read several articles (for example a more general theoretical or methodological paper, combined with one or two more specific case studies), which will be evaluated and discussed in class. Each student will also be required to choose a topic and related research, and present it during the seminar. The results, experiences and insights are reported in an oral presentation at the end of the course, followed by a paper.
This interactive course aims to provide practice on how to carry out research and critically evaluate data and theories. Students are allowed to choose a topic that is relevant to (some aspect of) their master thesis research. In addition to evaluating the academic content and relevance of the articles, their writing styles and data presentation will also be assessed. Furthermore, students will receive feedback on how to give presentations (PowerPoint, overheads, etc.) and write papers in an academic style at MA level.

Learning outcomes

  • In-depth knowledge of globally important economic, technological and socio-political processes;

  • Knowledge of and insight in how these processes affected Asian culture and history;

  • Knowledge of and insight in the latest research and controversial issues;

  • Ability to critically assess the advantages and disadvantages of the different theoretical and methodological approaches;

  • Ability to present one’s own properly argumented opinion of the different theoretical approaches in seminar discussions;

  • A deeper understanding of how to evaluate the reliability of the research data presented and the viability of the arguments and conclusions;

  • Ability to recognise (in)appropriate academic writing styles and data presentation;

  • Ability to discuss the background and relevance of these papers in a seminar context;

  • Ability to present a research topic on ca. 2-3 relevant papers;

  • Ability to write an analytical essay on the chosen topic;

  • Ability to critically assess the different presentations of fellow students.

Mode of delivery



  • Active participation during the seminar discussions;

  • Presentation;

  • Essay.

Reading list

Various articles, to be decided according to the research interests of the students.

Time schedule

Course schedule details can be found in the MA time schedule.