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Early prehistory



The course topic is the archaeology of hunters and gatherers in Europe. We will discuss the earliest human occupation of Europe, the Neanderthals and anatomically Modern humans, and the last hunter-gatherers interacting with the first farmers.
The course offers key themes such as subsistence strategies, mobility, and technology, discussed on the basis of academic papers on different time periods and regions.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of some important Palaeolithic sites in Europe (Pakefield, Maastricht-Belvedere, Chauvet);

  • Knowledge of the chronostratigraphic framework of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic (Pleistocene-Holocene, glacial-interglacial, marine-isotope stages, dating and dating methods, stoneworking methods);

  • Basic knowledge of the academic discussion of Europe’s earliest settlement and the transition from Middle to Upper Palaeolithic;

  • Basic knowledge and understanding of “optimal foraging theory” and its application to mobility, technology and subsistence (terms ‘ foragers’ and ‘collectors’);

  • Ability to critically read and review an academic paper.


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

Mode of instruction

Lectures with discussion.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 12 hours of lectures;

  • 300 pages of literature;

  • 5 assignments in BlackBoard.

Assessment method

  • Written exam (30%);

  • BlackBoard assignments (30%);

  • Paper (40%).

Compensation according to OER (Onderwijs- en Examenreglement/Course and Examination Regulations)
There is no retake for the BlackBoard assignments. Only retakes for failed (partial) exams are possible.
There is only a retake for the paper if the first attempt has been taken seriously. If a retake is failed, any passes for a (partial) exam will no longer count (i.e. grades cannot be used the next year).

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

Deadlines and exam schedules:

  • BlackBoard assignments: see BlackBoard;

  • Written exam: see BA2 examination schedule;

  • Paper: see BlackBoard;

  • Retake written exam: see BA2 examination schedule;

  • Retake paper (with new subject): see BlackBoard.

Reading list

To be published on BlackBoard.


Registration for the course or the exam is not required.

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 dr. A. Verpoorte.