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Archaeological heritage



As archaeologists, why do we do what we do and who do we do it for? Public and community led archaeologies can be the discipline of presenting archaeological heritage to the public and how community engages with the past material culture in their current context and display. Case studies will be drown from across the globe. A National Archaeology Day is common practice in many European countries, including the Netherlands, as a way to engage communities through participation and exposure to archaeological publications, museum displays, lectures, television programs, internet websites and excavations which are open to visitors. For example, in Africa, locally initiated “cultural centers” and “heritage houses” are replacing colonial ethnographic museums. Public archaeology has become a major sub-discipline with its own conferences, publications and teaching programs. Its specialists work in museums, universities, schools, NGOs and national and international agencies and organizations as well as in the private sector. The course will introduce how archaeological heritage is perceived and engaged with by many communities from around the world. Theoretical approaches such as that of viewing archaeological knowledge as a basic human need is presented, along with other heritage practices from national and international perspectives.

Course objectives

  • Understanding of the political and public contexts of archaeology;

  • Understanding of the limitations of our best theories and practices;

  • Familiarity with global and indigenous perspectives on heritage;

  • Understanding of the significance of bottom-up community leadership in heritage preservation;

  • Understanding of the importance of sharing experiences, skills and data with communities;

  • Understanding of the role of media and internet in shaping our ideas of the past and what archaeology is;

  • Understanding of the impact of looting, vandalism and illicit trade in antiquities.


Course schedule details can be found in the BA2 time schedule.

Mode of instruction


Course load

  • 14 hours of lectures;

  • 250 pages of literature.

Assessment method

  • Community archaeology project proposal (60%);

  • Weekly assignments (40%).

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

Reading list

To be announced.


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 dr. S. Mire.


Compulsory attendance.