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Neolithisation in the Near East


Admission requirements

BA-degree in Archaeology (or a relevant discipline) obtained. The MA specialisation should be the Archaeology of the Mediterranean and Near East.


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. It is also a period that has emerged as a major research topic over the past two decades.

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.

This course in open to both MA and RMA students. They will have different assignments, however. For RMS’s the final essay will be 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

  • Detailed knowledge of cultural developments in the Neolithic Near East, 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-argued 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-argued opinion, making use of the feedback received with the presentation.


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).

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 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).

Assessment method

Both MA and RMA-students:

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

  • Quality of the weekly assignments (20%);

  • Quality of the final essay (60%).

For RMA-students the final essay will be required to offer a more critical, in-depth discussion of the theme selected and formulate new avenues for research.

Prior to each class students read literature and provide a summary with discussion points. These must be submitted the day before class. The final essay is due 2 weeks after the last meeting. All essays, including the final essay, must be submitted through SafeAssign and as a pdf. The final essay also has to be submitted in print.

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.


Registration for the course is not necessary, registration for the exam is mandatory. For instructions, see the Registration in uSis page.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. O.P. Nieuwenhuyse.


Compulsory attendance.