Universiteit Leiden

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Global Archaeology (MA)

Programme structure

Follow your personal interests, and choose from a plethora of focus areas. Will you focus on the deep past of humankind? Or do you prefer to dive into the Roman world? Or would you rather study pre-Columbian America? The choice is up to you!

Programme outline

35 ec

Career profile (3 courses) + thesis

10 ec Region Focus Area (2 courses)
5 ec Archaeological Theory (1 course)
10 ec Electives (2 courses)

Your focus area, your career profile, and thesis subject determine your specialisation and your eventual area of expertise.

Some of the courses

Archaeological Theory

This course gives an overview, selective and by no means exhaustive, of what archaeological theory is currently about. You will read and reflect upon a recent handbook that provides something of a ‘state of the art’ of the philosophy of science. Note, however, that the handbook chapters are conceived here as points of departure for the individual lectures and associated readings that may wander in very different directions across the contemporary theoretical scape.

How Deep History Shaped the Human World

Why is wealth so unevenly spread across the world? Why did social development in one part of the world take such a different route than it did in another? Perhaps surprisingly, social inequality, the humanly-induced change of the natural world and several other topics that are key concerns of modern society already mattered in prehistory. Some even can be said to have originated in our deep past.

This course will outline key developments that had a deep impact on the course human history took, such as the shift to a sedentary way of life, Neolithisation of the world, the adoption or rejection of disruptive innovations such as metallurgy, or the wheel. Special attention will be devoted to the question why hierarchical societies developed in certain parts of the world, whilst more egalitarian forms of society prevailed elsewhere. 
We will discuss such developments from a global perspective, where important differences and similarities between continents and regions will be emphasized, and how they may affect the present.

The Archaeology of Early Roman Imperialism

The question how Rome won its empire is as old as the study of Roman history, and continues to dominate modern scholarship. An important difficulty these studies encounter is that the available textual sources describe and explain Roman imperial success from hindsight, from the imperial period (1st-3rd centuries AD) situation in the provinces, i.e. centuries after the key phase of Roman expansion in the Mediterranean, which already took place between the 4th and 2nd centuries BC.

Now, recent and ongoing research increasingly demonstrates that radically different models and motivations may have been at the basis of early Roman expansionism. The character of early Roman expansionism and its dynamics are best grasped by looking at the development of Rome itself and its Mediterranean competitors from an isochronic perspective, using primarily contemporary archaeological and epigraphic data.

In this course, we will explore the functioning of this formative phase in Roman expansionism using primarily archaeological data from the Western Mediterranean, and confronting these with current models of Roman expansion. We will focus on the archaeology of the Italian peninsula, with outlooks into developments in the Iberian peninsula, Corsica, Sicily and southern France.

Neolithisation in the Near East

The Neolithic (ca. 10,000-5,300 BC) is one of the most crucial periods in the history of the Near East, associated with major social, economic and material innovations and important changes in the archaeological record. It is also a period that has emerged as a major research topic over the past two decades.

In this course we will study the current archaeological views on this period of early village formation. Attention will be given to:

  • Epipalaeolithic forager communities;
  • Neolithic origins;
  • Neolithic expansion and food production;
  • Transitions and transformations;
  • Pots-and-people associations in the late Neolithic;
  • Regional mega-centres;
  • Pastoralism and mobility;
  • Neolithic monuments and ritual;
  • Neolithic administration and (in)equality;
  • Burial practices in the Neolithic.

Key Developments in European Prehistory

This is a course in which key developments in Prehistoric Europe will be discussed, taking place between the 7th and the end of the 1st millennium BC. The emphasis is on how Prehistory shaped the modern world.

The focus is on agrarian communities. Themes that may be addressed include the spread of farming in Europe, the rise and history of ritual landscapes, the deep history of migration, Prehistoric religion and cosmology, invention and adaptation of metallurgy, Bronze Age and Iron Age “world systems”, ethnogenesis (Celts, Germans, Scythians), and the legacy of Prehistory in modern Europe. Central to the course will be how to deal with and encapsulate such broad issues in regional, practical research, and if/how it plays a role in debates on contemporary society. The lectures will be closely linked to current research of our section members.

This is an interactive course, which means that part of each lecture session is dedicated to a discussion on the basis of literature and an assignment, and part in which a broader background is presented on the issues being debated.

Region Focus Areas

Within your Focus Area programme part, you may pick two courses of a region of your choice.

  • Hunter-gatherer Archaeology
  • Key developments in European Prehistory
  • Urban Archaeology
  • Neolithisation in the Near East
  • Archaeology of the Assyrian Empire
  • Environmental History of the Near East
  • Diversities of doing Greek. ‘Hellenisation’ and ‘Hellenism’ in ancient Eurasia
  • The Archaeology of Roman Imperialism in the Western Mediterranean
  • Archaeology of the Crusades
  • Mobility, interaction and colonialism in the Americas
  • Current issues in the Archaeology of the Americas

Complete overview

In the Prospectus you will find a complete overview and full course descriptions of the courses and focus areas Global Archaeology has to offer. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

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