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Artefact Studies


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Having passed the course Materiaalkunde 1, or possessing a similar level of knowledge about artefact studies, specifically raw material properties and manufacturing techniques.


How do we study our artefacts in order to arrive at meaningful statements about past behaviour? Emphasis will lie on the relationship between empirical observations about the artefacts and the research questions that can be addressed.
A central topic will be the reconstruction of the life cycle of objects: what kind of raw material was selected, how was the object made, what was the investment of skills and knowledge, can we say anything about use, and is there any evidence for a special treatment of the artefact? To what extent do taphonomical processes play a role? There will also be considerable emphasis on the experimental approach of pottery technology and lithic studies. Lastly, attention will be given to the role of experimental archaeology in scientific research and the role of experimental archaeology in public presentations like museums and open air centres.

Course objectives

  • To deepen the knowledge about how objects are made and used, in order to recognise the empirical basis for the reconstruction of their life-history;

  • Knowledge of the relationship between the research questions and the empirical observations necessary to address these questions (what attributes do we need to study and why?);

  • Knowledge of and insight in the experimental and analytical methods with which to derive information from artefacts, as pertaining to ceramics and lithic materials;

  • To obtain basic knowledge of the role of experimental archaeology in scientific research and public outreach.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lecture;

  • 280 pages of literature;

  • Assignments.


Course schedule details can be found in the bachelor 2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practical assignments.

Assessment method

Exam with essay questions.

Assessment deadline

The exam date can be found in the exam schedule.

Reading list

  • H.M. Miller, Archaeological Approaches to Technology. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press (2009). Pages to be specified;

  • H.L. Loney, “Society and Technological Control: A Critical Review of models of Technological Change in Ceramic Studies” (2000) in: American Antiquity 65 (4), pp. 646-668;

  • A.K. Outram, “Introduction to Experimental Archaeology” in: World Archaeology 40/1, pp. 1-6. This article can be found online.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact mw prof. dr A.L. van Gijn.


The practical is taught once a year. If you fail the test, you can do a retake in the next academic year. Also see the Faculty of Archaeology rules and regulations.