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Material studies 2


Admission requirements

Material studies 1: Lectures and Material studies 1: Practical obtained.


This course builds upon the knowledge gained in the course Material Studies 1. In Material Studies 2 you will attain the knowledge and skills required during the recovery and processing of artefacts in the field and post-excavation, and you will be introduced to the basic analytical skills used during artefact analysis. The topics covered include the excavation, processing, basic analysis and preservation of finds of different materials. Special attention will be given to artefact categories not covered in the lectures of Materials Studies 1, such as shell and coral.

Practicals will focus on sorting sieve residues into material categories and on the technical drawing of artefacts. By means of assignments you will acquire the skills to analyse the finds and write a basic technological and morphological report. Data collected during the recording of flint will be entered on a database and this dataset will be analysed in the Data Analysis course. The results of the data analysis will be incorporated in the basic report you will write.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge and skills necessary for excavating, handling and processing finds in the field and in post-excavation;

  • Ability to distinguish and identify correctly the main categories of archaeological finds;

  • Learn to use a stereomicroscope to distinguish materials;

  • Ability to recognise the traces of production and use on the surface of the artefacts;

  • Learn how to write basic reports for a variety of finds groups.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 14 hours of lectures (1 ec);

  • 21 hours of practical sessions (1 ec);

  • 275 pages of literature (2 ec);

  • Assignment (basic report) of ca 1,500 words (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Written exam with open (essay) questions, based on the contents of the lectures and literature (80%);

  • Practical test, which includes a technological report that is handed in at a later stage (20%).

Compensation is possible, the minimum grade should be at least a 4.5. You can only do a retake for the written exams so in case the practical test is a fail, this has to be compensated by the written exam.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 examination schedule.

Reading list

  • J.L. Adams, Ground Stone Analysis: A Technological Approach. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press (2002) pp: 3-9, 14-18;

  • H. Hodges, Artifacts. An Introduction to Early Materials and Technology. London, 1964 (with reprints) Chapters 13-15) pp: 156-172;

  • D.J. Huisman, Degradation of Archaeological Materials. Den Haag (2009) pp: 13-146;

  • L.M. Hurcombe, Archaeological Artefacts as Material Culture. London: Routledge (2007). pp 14-37;

  • A.L. van Gijn, Y. M. J. Lammers-Keijsers & I. Briels, “Tool Use and Technological Choices: An Integral Approach towards Functional Analysis of Caribbean Tool Assemblage” (2008), in: C. L. Hofman, M. L. P. Hoogland & A. L. van Gijn (eds), Crossing the Borders: New Methods and Techniques in the Study of Archaeological Materials from the Caribbean. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 101-114;

  • C. Orton, P. Tyers & A. Vince, Pottery in Archaeology. Cambridge Manuals in Archaeology. Cambridge (2013). Chapter 6, 14 & 15: Classification of Form and Quantification: pp: 81-93 & pp: 190-218;

  • J.C. Whittaker, Flint Knapping. Making and Understanding Stone Tools. Austin: University of Texas Press (1994). Chapter 11 (pp 259-299).


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.


For more information about his course, please contact dr. A.L. van Gijn.


Compulsory attendance for the practical sessions.