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Archaeological Prospection in the Netherlands


Admission requirements


Prospection archaeology focuses on the way in which a landscape can be analysed for a better understanding of the settlement history.
The course will use the Netherlands as a case example, since this will allow us to visit some typical regions.

Sites are usually associated with specific landscape characteristics, This is the basis for the first stages in the archaeological assessment of a location or region. The next step will be to assess whether any prediction is correct: you need to check your assumption in the field.

This course will focus on the landscape changes that were experienced in the Netherlands during the past 200,000 years. The present landscape is the result of a complex history of climate fluctuations and human interference.

We will focus on the analysis of a landscape, by using maps as well as during small field trips. Students will work in groups on a specific region that they will analyse and present in written and oral form.
The course has strong relations with the seminar Predictive Modelling, but whereas that course will focus on the modelling, this course will focus on the underlying data of soils and sediments.

Course set-up

7 weeks, subdivided as follows:

  • 4 weeks with introductory lectures of 2 hours, followed by 2 hours of practicals;

  • 2 days of field trips in the Netherlands (by public transport or bike);

  • 1 afternoon with the final presentation in the last week.

Course objectives

  • To know the general outline of the landscape changes and associated deposits that have resulted in the present landscape of The Netherlands;

  • To understand the difference between geological and soil maps;

  • Ability to use spatial information from topographical, geological and soil maps to extract information needed for landscape analysis;

  • Ability to apply the Dutch soil classification or the lithostratigraphical subdivision to an archaeological field survey;

  • To understand what information can be extracted from corings and when they can and cannot be used as an archaeological prospection tool;

  • Ability to process coring data;

  • Ability to present your own findings in a clear presentation and report.


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

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures;

  • Practicals, including field trips;

  • Regular intervision, in which we will discuss the progress in the group.

Course load

  • 5 x 2 hours of lectures (0.5 ec);

  • 5 x 2 hours of practicals (supervised) and 4 hours wrap-up: presentations (0,5 ec);

  • 2 days of field trips (1 ec);

  • Self-study and literature (3 ec).

Assessment method

  • Group report (50%);

  • Group presentation (50%).

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

Depends on the chosen region.


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. J.A. (Joanne) Mol.


Compulsory attendance during the field trips and regular intervision sessions.