Universiteit Leiden

nl en

World Archaeology

The researchers in the World Archaeology department of the Faculty of Archaeology concentrate on a range of different periods and regions: from humanity’s origins to the Middle Ages and the modern age, and from Asia to South America.

The rsearchers are open to a variety of different approaches and ways of looking at the world, thus enabling them to go beyond the limits of their own discipline. Productive collaboration has been achieved between the different research groups and the other two departments within the Faculty. The aim is to create space for applied archaeology in an increasingly globalised world where the impact of cultural heritage and non-academic archaeology is becoming ever more tangible.

Six research groups

The World Archaeology department is made up of six groups that reflect the breadth and diversity of the department’s research: 

  • Human Origins
  • European Prehistory
  • Archaeology of the Near East
  • Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology
  • Roman Provinces, Middle Ages and Modern Period
  • Archaeology of the Americas


The archaeologists in the ‘Human Origins’ group study hunter-gatherer societies, from the earliest stone tools found in East Africa – dating to more than three million years ago – to the appearance of sedentary societies at the end of the last ice age.

Key developments

Research within the ‘European Prehistory’ group focuses on the history of Europe and Eurasia from the beginnings of agriculture to the start of the Roman period, a time which saw key developments that continue to have a deep impact on European landscapes and societies to this day.

Near East

The archaeologists in Leiden’s ‘Archaeology of the Near East’ group study the crucible of civilisations in the Near East, from the early Neolithic to the Ottoman period. Their research topics include vital developments such as the transition from nomadic to sedentary societies, the rise and impact of long-distance networks and the creation of empires.

The ‘Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology’ group is currently investigating the synergies that developed in the ancient world, including cultural and imperial expansion, in the period between 500 BC and 500 AD.

Long-term processes

Researchers within ‘Roman Provinces, Middle Ages and Modern Period’ study long-term processes both within and outside Europe, including in the ancient Roman world. More specifically, this research covers topics such as Roman border infrastructure, the transition from the Roman world to that of the Middle Ages, and urbanisation in the late Middle Ages and the modern period.

The key fields of research for the ‘Archaeology of the Americas’ group are the development of Amerindian society and the impact of colonialism in the Caribbean: the link that connects the first interactions between the Old World and the New.

This website uses cookies.  More information.