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Imperial Powers, Global Cultures


Admission requirements

World Archaeology 1, World Archaeology 2 and World Archaeology 3 obtained.


This course explores the archaeology of empires and early globalisations, and their impact across the world.
It consists of two parts; the first focusing on empires and similar large socio-political projects, the second on associated processes of globalisation and other intensive culture contact phenomena.

After an introduction of definitions, theories, and approaches, in each part a series of case studies is presented. In line with their specialisations, a cross-section of early empires from the Americas, Europe, the Near East and Asia are discussed by various experts from our Faculty.
We study the large-scale punctuated material connections visible in several moments in time, from the Bronze Age up into early modern times.

The course takes a comparative perspective, inviting students to identify common patterns and developments, whereas explanations for different trajectories will be explored in reference to different natural, climatic, technological and cultural conditions and challenges.

Course set-up

The course consists of 2-hour lectures in the morning, followed by autonomous study of literature (1 or 2 papers per session) and optional weekly tutorials to discuss reading materials on the basis of questions.

Course objectives

  • Gain general knowledge of a broad array of empires and instances of globalisation in world history, and their key characteristics;

  • Gain insight into the social, economic and cultural impact of empires, for the subjected peoples and areas as well as the imperial powers themselves;

  • Gain insight into models and theories applied by archaeologists when investigating empires and other intensive large-scale culture-contact phenomena;

  • Gain insight into the socio-political and economic workings of empires and different motivations for imperial expansion;

  • Gain insight into common patterns and developments of conquest, violence, and consolidation;

  • Gain insight into the links between empires and processes of globalisation;

  • Ability to critically read and review an academic paper;

  • Ability to concisely report such reviews in written format.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Autonomous study;

  • Tutorials (optional).

Course load

  • 24 hours of seminar (1 ec);

  • 350 pages of literature (2,5 ec);

  • Short assignments (1,5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Assignments (40%);

  • Final exam with multiple choice and essay questions (60%).

Following Faculty policy, you should obtain at least a 5,0 for both the assignments and the exam, and a final grade of at least 5,5 to pass. If a retake is required, only the assessment which received an insufficient score will be retaken.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the BA2 examination schedule.
Deadlines for assignments are included in the course syllabus.

Reading list

The reading list will be distributed 2 weeks prior to the start of the class.


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.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. T.C.A. (Tymon) de Haas.


Compulsory attendance.