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Admission requirements

Ecology obtained.
For non-Archaeology students an equivalent level is required.


In this course you will learn how to interpret bioarchaeological data (botanical macro fossils, pollen, animal and human skeletal remains). A number of practical sessions is part of the course. During the practical you will handle pollen analyses, botanical macro fossils, and animal and human skeletal remains.

The lectures are followed by a practical of 2 weeks, to be scheduled in January.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the basic principles of taxonomy (what is taxonomy, who was Linneaus, etc.);

  • Knowledge of the (palaeo)biological techniques used to reconstruct landscapes, palaeo-environments and palaeo-climate;

  • Ability to research the domestication of plants;

  • Knowledge of the archaeo-zoological techniques used to reconstruct the past (including analyses of skeletons, bones and teeth of small and large mammals, birds and fish);

  • Understanding of how skeletal remains can provide archaeologists with information about seasonal factors, palaeo-economy, and the relationship between humans and animals;

  • Knowledge of the osteo-archaeological techniques used to reconstruct human populations as well as individuals from the past.


  • Familiarity with how to work with botanical, animal (fossil) and human skeletal remains, and how to work with a microscope;

  • Ability to discern different types of fossils and organic remains (e.g. bone, antler, seeds, shell, wood), and to make a distinction between animal and human bones;

  • Knowledge of how to identify certain specimens.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practical.

Course load

The course load will be distributed as follows:

  • 28 hours of lectures (2 ec);

  • 60 hours of practical sessions (3 ec).

Assessment method

  • Written exam;

  • Assignments during the practical (active participation only).

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

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.

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. M. van Kolfschoten, dr. M.H. Field or mw. dr. R. Schats.


Compulsory attendance during practical sessions.