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World archaeology 1: Prehistory of the Near East and Europe

Course 2017-2018


The lecture series World Archaeology gives an outline of the deep history of humans and society from our early ancestors to the more complex societies in the world. The role of material culture in society is discussed and shown in many regions and periods. Comparisons between different regions and scales allow us to understand connections between the unique and the global.

People used material culture to shape their world. This type of data can be used to understand past societies, but needs to be treated with care.

This course focuses on current research themes in our faculty:
* Early farmers and complex societies in the Near East;
* Prehistoric farming communities in Europe.

In general the modules are designed as follows:
* 1 hour instruction lecture
* 5 hours working on assignments (supervised)
* 1 hour wrap-up lecture

Lectures may incidentally be replaced by excursions.
The book The Human Past is used throughout the course, supplemented by additional literature.

Course objectives

  • Basic knowledge of the deep history of Europe and West-Asia;
  • Basic understanding of contrasts and different perspectives on World Archaeology themes;
  • Basic understanding of the current debates and challenges in archaeology;
  • How people used material culture to shape their world;
  • Understanding the nature and variety of archaeological evidence, such as tools, household items, pictures, structures of houses, burials, ecological changes and genetic variations;
  • Knowledge of the nature of archaeological data and the regional and temporal variations in settlements, economies, and cultural organisation;
  • General knowledge of and insight into technological, social and cultural developments in time per region (in burial rituals, settlements, economic developments, social organisation).


Course schedule details can be found in the BA1 time schedule.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;
  • Tutorials, in which students work under supervision on assignments on the literature and practice their knowledge;
  • Excursions (museum visits).

Course load

  • 2 parts of 8 days each (c.16 hours);
  • Literature for each part, c.140 pp (ca. 22 hours extra).

Assessment method

Each World Archaeology course focuses on 2 regional themes/research areas. Each of the 2 themes will be assessed separately. Compensation within this course, between the two exams, is possible according to the rules stated in the Education and Examination Regulations (OER) (minimum grade 4.5).

The "Prehistoric farming communities in Europe" will be assessed as follows:
* weekly assignments (20%);
* weekly online tests (30%);
* a final essay (50%).

The "Early farmers and complex societies in the Near East" part will have a written multiple choice exam.

Retakes of the exams are only possible in case of a fail (conform our teaching rules and regulations) and only when the requirements of the attendance and assignments are met. Retakes for assignments are not possible.

All exam dates (exams, re-sits, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA1 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 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 mw. dr. J.A. Mol.


Compulsory attendance during tutorials.