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Material Studies


Admission requirements



This module provides a general overview of the artefact categories most frequently recovered during survey and excavation.
You will get acquainted with the nature and physical properties of different materials and will acquire a basic understanding of the different production processes through which those artefacts were made.

You will learn to distinguish different materials, identify main artefact forms and describe key technological features.

Course set-up

Frontal lectures for each material category and additional resources, such as introductions to the practicals, will be recorded and uploaded on Brightspace. Students are expected to learn the content of the lectures as a preparation to the practical sessions.

Practical sessions will take place on campus in small groups (max. 22 students) once a week and will last 3 hours. You will also have the chance to ask questions about the content of the lectures and reader during the practical classes.

Course objectives

Upon completion of the module, students should be able to:

  • Recognise a range of archaeological material and artefacts including pottery, flint, stone, bone and antler;

  • Acquire basic knowledge of the physical and mechanical properties of different materials;

  • Understand the main production processes of artefacts made of pottery, flint, stone, and diverse organic materials;

  • Describe artefacts made of these materials from a technological perspective;

  • Understand the material interaction between different crafts.


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

Mode of instruction

Online preparation carried out independently by the student, using the following resources offered in Brightspace:

  • Recorded lectures

  • Virtual content

  • Readings

On-campus practice:
Weekly practicals with assignments.

Please bring drawing paper, pencil and a loupe (10X) to the practical. The loupe can also be purchased at the start of the practical. For more information: see Brightspace.

Please note that the practicals cannot be offered online. If you are unable to attend these on-campus practicals, please contact the study adviser and inform us when you are able to come to Leiden.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the mode of instruction may change before or during the course.

Course load

  • Weekly online knowledge clips and additional resources (2 ec);

  • 7 x 3 hours of practicals (1 ec);

  • 280 pages of literature (2 ec).

Assessment method

  • 1 theoretical exam (multiple choice) (60%);

  • 1 practical exam (40%).

The theoretical exam can be done online for those who are unable to come to campus.
The practical exam needs to be taken on campus. If you are unable to attend the practicals or the exam (or both), please contact the study adviser and the coordinator of this course (see Contact).

The assessment of both the theoretical and practical part takes place at the end of the block.
The final grade is the (weighed) average of the results of both the theory and practical exam, provided that the lowest mark is at least 5.0.
Failed exams can be retaken.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA1 examination schedule.

Due to COVID-19 measures in place, and depending on developments in the situation, the assessment method may change before or during the course.

Reading list

  • Reader (syllabus), available online through Brightspace;

  • Additional readings will be listed on Brightspace.


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.


For more information about this course, please contact drs. M. (Martina) Revello Lami.


  • Attendance to the practical sessions is highly recommended, but given the current circumstances not compulsory. In case of illness please stay at home and notify us when you are able to participate again;

  • Lectures will be recorded in English;

  • Practicals may not always be supervised by Dutch-speaking instructors.