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Neolithisation in the Near East


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

BA-degree in Archaeology (or a relevant discipline) obtained.


The Neolithic (ca. 10,000-5,300 BC) is one of the most crucial periods in the history of the Near East, associated with major social, economic and material innovations and important changes in the archaeological record. In this course we will study the current archaeological views on this period of early village formation.

Attention will be given to: Epipalaeolithic forager communities; Neolithic origins; Neolithic expansion and food production; transitions and transformations; pots-and-people associations in the late Neolithic; regional mega-centres; pastoralism and mobility; Neolithic monuments and ritual; Neolithic administration and (in)equality; and burial practices in the Neolithic.

The course in open to both MA and RMA-students. They will have different assignments, however. Each RMA-student will organise, lead, and critically review 1 group session. Their final essays, moreover, are required to offer a more critical, in-depth discussion of the theme selected and formulate new avenues for research.


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Course objectives

For MA-students:

  • Detailed knowledge of cultural developments in the Neolithic Near East mentioned above, on the basis of the assigned literature, lectures, assignments and discussions;

  • Detailed knowledge of the current literature, current debates and the archaeological approaches in it;

  • Ability to critically assess current research and assigned literature and voice one’s well-argumented opinion;

  • Ability to choose a research topic, find relevant literature, apply current views on one’s own research topic and present this via a PowerPoint presentation and ability to handle a stimulating discussion afterwards;

  • Ability to critically assess the various presentations;

  • Ability to write a balanced and critical essay on one’s research topic, with expression of a critical assessment of the literature and one’s own well-argumented opinion, making use of the feedback received with the presentation.

For RMA-students:
All of the above, plus

  • Ability to organise and lead a thematic group discussion, and to critically review the various points of view offered in the discussions.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:
For MA-students:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (1 ects);

  • Small assignments and 1 presentation (1 ects);

  • Essay of 3,000 words (2 ects).

For RMA-students:

  • 7×2 hours of lectures (1 ects);

  • 280 pages of literature (1 ects);

  • Organisation and review of thematic group discussion (1 ects);

  • Essay of 3,000 words (2 ects).


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

Mode of instruction

Following the introductory lecture there will be individual assignments dealing with specific research questions and research items concerning the Neolithic Near East. The topics of research will be dealt with in the form of student class presentations, reading of books/articles, and a subsequent essay (3,000 words).

RMA-students will be responsible for the organisation of 1 of the sessions.

Assessment method

For MA-students:

  • Active participation in class discussions (10%);

  • Quality of the student class presentation (20%);

  • Quality of the weekly assignments (20%);

  • Quality of the final essay (50%).

For RMA-students:

  • Active participation in class discussions (10%);

  • Quality of the organisation and supervision of 1 session (40%);

  • Quality of the final essay (50%).

Assessment deadline

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

Reading list

The reading list will be given to participating students prior to the beginning of the course.


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 dr. O.P. Nieuwenhuyse.