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Archaeology of Mesoamerica


Admission requirements

World archaeology 2 and Academische vaardigheden obtained.


Mesoamerica is one of two regions in the Americas which witnessed the rise of complex early state societies. A high number and diversity of cultures built a large array of archaeological remains such as monumental centres, pyramidal structures, ceremonial plazas, ballcourts, tombs, carved stones, murals, and pictorial divinatory books, to name a few.

In Colonial times, Spanish friars and missionaries wrote extensively about the native cultures, providing detailed information about their languages, religion, and social organisation.
In contemporary times, indigenous peoples in the region preserve to a large extent their languages, cultural practices and worldview.

This course offers a chronological overview of the archaeology of Mesoamerica, from the earliest societies until the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. Special attention will be given to the cultures of the centre of Mexico and Oaxaca, where the analysis of some cultural practices will be supported with ethnographical data. Current approaches on visual culture and research field methods will also be part of this course.

Course objectives

  • Ability to date and understand the most characteristic elements (sites, monuments and artefacts) of the Central and Southern Mexican archaeological record;

  • Ability to form an opinion on the archaeological themes presented in literature and information given during classes;

  • Ability to conduct research and discuss general archaeological themes of this cultural region.


Course schedule details can be found in the bachelor 3 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Interactive lectures with assignments and reports.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of lectures;

  • 280 pages of literature;

  • 20 hours of study (exam).

Assessment method

  • Written final exam;

  • Written and drawing assignments on BlackBoard.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

Before starting the course, refresh your overview knowledge by studying:

  • C. Scarre, The Human Past. New York: Thames and Hudson (2005). Chapter 16: Mesoamerican Civilization, pp. 594-639.

Relevant literature for this course:

  • D.L. Nichols & C. A. Pool (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology. New York: Oxford University Press (2012).

Other literature will be announced during the course.


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

Exchange and Study Abroad students: please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.


For more information about this course, please contact mw. dr. A. Rojas Martinez Gracida.


Compulsory attendance.