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Palaeolithic Europe: An introduction


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

BA or BSc degree (or equivalent) in Archaeology or a relevant discipline.


This course gives an introduction to the European Palaeolithic record and its wider setting, from the earliest colonisation of Eurasia by early hominins and ending with the archaeology of Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers. The course addresses the challenges Palaeolithic archaeologists face trying to make sense of a fragmented fossil and archaeological record and the large-scale taphonomic processes which create archaeological patterns.
The emphasis of the course is on the record of the Neanderthals. A writing assignment will help students to focus on one specific topic within the lecture series and to integrate that with the other issues discussed during the course.

RMA-specific assignments will include an assignment translating one of the key topics into a 800-word resumé for a general public, along the lines of a popular science summary for a research proposal.


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Course objectives

  • Knowledge of European Palaeolithic archaeological record, in the wider setting of Pleistocene climate change and the colonisation of the Old World;

  • Insight in the relationship between large-scale physical geographical processes and the formation of the archaeological record;

  • Ability to assess the nature and quality of the archaeological evidence for the European Palaeolithic, and demonstrate the potential and limitations of the data with regard to the key current research questions.

  • For RMA-students, course objectives also include writing a popular science summary for a research proposal.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ects);

  • Assignments (2 ects).


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Literature study (required reading before each lecture).

Assessment method

  • Short written assignments (25%);

  • Final essay (75%).

Assessment deadline

The written assignments have weekly deadlines.

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

The reading list will be published on Blackboard.
In preparation for this course, students are advised to study R. Klein’s The Human Career (3rd edition).


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 prof. dr. J.W.M. Roebroeks.