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World archaeology 1



The lecture series World archaeology gives a chronological overview of the general development of man and society from early humans to complex societies. The book The Human Past is used throughout the course. From this broad basis, accents are applied in the lectures from the Leiden study programme. Moreover, using case studies, Faculty of Archaeology research will be discussed, with relevance to the course’s themes.

The focus of part 1 of the series is the gradual development from early farmers (neolithisation) to the more complex societies of the Near East and Europe, based on archaeological and geographical data. Which factors were key to these massive changes in people’s way of life? Did this development occur in the same way in all areas, or are there regional variations?

Study skills will be developed by means of BlackBoard assignments which will be discussed in groups and during the weekly tutorials, under supervision of education assistants.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the chronological and geographic framework of the development of the first farmers to the more complex societies and their cultural manifestations in the Near East and Europe, as addressed in the lectures and in the book;

  • General knowledge of and insight into technological, social and cultural developments in time per region (in burial rituals, settlements, economic developments, social organisation);

  • Knowledge of current Faculty of Archaeology research within this theme;

  • Ability to study independently by applying the e-learning structure.


Course schedule details can be found in the propedeuse/first year time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Tutorials.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 7 lectures (14 hours);

  • 7 one-hour case studies (presentations with questions and discussion);

  • 7 one-hour tutorials;

  • 200 pages of literature.

Assessment method

2 written exams with multiple choice questions.
The assessment grades may be used to compensate each other, but the lowest grade should not be lower than 4,0.

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

Reading list

  • C. Scarre (ed.), The Human Past. World Prehistory & the Development of Human Societies. Thames & Hudson, 3rd edition (2013);

  • Various additional articles.


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.

Registration ‘Contractonderwijs’

All information (costs, registration, entry requirements, etc.) for those who are interested in taking this course as a Contractstudent is on the Contractonderwijs Archeologie webpage (in Dutch).


For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. P.M.M.G. Akkermans.


  • Attendance at tutorials is compulsory.

  • This course has two versions: one taught in Dutch, the other taught in English.