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Palaeolithic Archaeology


Admission requirements


This course provides hands-on, practical experience with Palaeolithic and Mesolithic stone tools. You will handle handaxes and Levallois cores, Aurignacian bladelet cores and Solutrean leafpoints, Magdalenian burins and Mesolithic armatures.

After introducing the main theoretical framework for analysing stone tools, we will study the signatures of percussion techniques and ‘read’ the direction and chronology of removals from cores and flakes.
Then we will study the reference collection of archaeological material from the Lower Palaeolithic to the Mesolithic, and explore the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic record of the Netherlands. You will describe and document stone tools from a wide range of archaeological sites.

The course is designed for students with an interest in human origins, early prehistory, field archaeology and commercial archaeology.

Course set-up

Weekly 4-hour seminars/practicals.

Course objectives

Ability to:

  • recognise and describe the morphology and technological features of stone tools (cores, flakes, blades, as well as retouched tools);

  • recognise and describe lithic taphonomy (patination, edge damage);

  • recognise and describe Palaeolithic and Mesolithic tool types;

  • argue a chronological attribution based on technological and typological features;

  • document and analyse a lithic assemblage at a basic level.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Introductory seminars;

  • Practicals;

  • Assignments.

Course load

  • 24 hours of lectures and practicals (1 ec);

  • 200 pages of literature (1,5 ec);

  • Portfolio of assignments (2,5 ec).

Assessment method

  • Portfolio (individual) (70%);

  • Presentation(s) (30%).

Compensation is possible in accordance with regulations (Onderwijs- en Examen Reglement / Course and Examination Regulations).
The retake consists of improving the portfolio to the ‘pass’ level and/or a new presentation.

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 available 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.

  • Start registration for the BA2 seminars:
    Series 1: 14 September 2020, 07:00 hrs
    Series 2: 11 January 2021, 07:00 hrs
    Series 3: 22 February 2021, 07:00 hrs

  • 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. A. (Alexander) Verpoorte.


Compulsory attendance.