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Landscape Dynamics



Bachelor year 1.


This course is an introduction in the rudiments of environment construction, in which attention will be paid to landscape formation processes, climate change, geology, vegetation and fauna.
It also provides an introduction in the methodology of science, including isotope studies, applied to archaeological case studies. Several basic definitions of the earth sciences and ecology, in which amongst others the terms stratigraphy, habitat, niche and territory will be treated, as well as their application in archaeology.

The course is subdivided in 3 parts:

  1. Introduction in natural processes and landscapes (4 ec)
  2. Introduction in ecology (4 ec)
  3. Introduction to the concepts and methodologies in natural science, that are commonly used in archaeology (2 ec). This past includes a one-day field trip in the vicinity of Leiden.

Set-up of the course:
The course is divided into 3 parts, each starting with a lecture, followed by time for reading. After that students will work under supervision on assignments that will be discussed in the same class.

The general setup of all three modules will be:

  • Lecture (9-11 hrs)

  • Reading (not supervised) (11-12 hrs)

  • Lunch (12-13 hrs)

  • Tutorial with assignments and direct feedback (13-15 hrs)

Course objectives

  • To introduce the disciplines of ecology and earth sciences including basic terminology and concepts;

  • To examine theories that explain how climate has, is and will continue to fluctuate;

  • To gain knowledge of the methods and techniques used to reconstruct palaeo-environment including palaeo-climate;

  • To introduce deep-sea, ice-core and terrestrial records for evidence of past environmental and climatic change;

  • To look at how environmental and climatic change has influenced humans' activity in the past and present;

  • To apply what has been introduced in an archaeological setting with a case study;

  • To introduce the concepts of stratigraphy and dating, including isotope dating methods.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures, followed by time for reading;

  • Weekly assignments in supervised tutorials. These assignments make up 100% for part 3.

Course load

  • 15x2 hours of lectures, including notes (2 ec);

  • 15x2 hours of tutorials (1 ec);

  • 400 pages of literature (3.5 ec);

  • Assignments (3.5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Assignments and written exam with open questions after part 1 (40%);

  • Assignments and written exam with open questions after part 2 (40%);

  • Assignments (average grade) during part 3 (20%).

Compensation of the grades is possible.
A retake is only possible for the written exams, and only when all assignments have been submitted on time.

Exams are scheduled according to the BA1 examination schedule.
Individual deadlines of assignments can be found on BlackBoard.

Reading list

To be announced.


Registration via uSis is mandatory.

  • The Administration Office will register all BA1 students for their tutorials (not lectures; register via uSis!).

  • BA2, BA3, MA/MSc and RMA/RMSc students are required to register for all lectures and tutorials well in time.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.

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. J.A. (Joanne) Mol or dr. M.H. (Mike) Field.


Compulsory attendance during the tutorials and practicals.