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Current Issues in the Archaeology of the Americas


Admission requirements

  • Bachelor's degree in Archaeology, or equivalent;

  • Admission to the Master Archaeology programme.


The American hemisphere presents a unique set of areas in world archaeology, for its relatively late initial peopling, extreme linguistic diversity and considerable range in adaptations to a multitude of challenging ecological zones, with concomitant difference in societal organisation.

This course broadly examines the historical developments of archaeology in the Americas, with yearly themes calibrated to reflect the groups’ field of interest. The course provides insight into the scholarly thinking–and possible contrasts to other areas in the world–-, introducing newly ongoing debates.

The Americas also fill a particular role in world archaeology thanks to the presence of indigenous communities throughout the two continents, and the traumatic developments that followed European colonisation. Indigenous histories or resistance and resilience are part of archaeology in most parts of the Americas, and politically consequential. As such, this course draws on some of the principal issues defining current-day archaeology in the Americas, placing particular emphasis on Middle and South America.

Explored themes will vary and may include a wide-ranging, yet correlated set, including the formation of religious beliefs, globalising exchanges, ritual landscapes, conceptualisations of time, and the relevance of contemporary indigenous heritage.

Course set-up

Weekly classes of 2 hours each. Classes will include lecturing, plenary topical discussions, and short presentations.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of and insight in key developments of archaeology in the Americas;

  • Knowledge of comparative potential of Americanist archaeology from a global archaeology perspective;

  • Ability to historically situate key debates in Americanist archaeology;

  • Ability to mobilise knowledge in reasoned oral contributions;

  • Ability to write a fluent and critical essay surrounding an archaeological body of literature.


Course schedule details can be found in the MA and MSc time schedule.

Mode of instruction


Course load

  • 14 hours seminar & weekly assignments (1 ec);

  • 420 pages of literature (3 ec);

  • Max. 2,000-word final essay (1 ec).

Assessment method

  • Weekly participation in debate (25%);

  • Presentation (25%);

  • Essay (50%).

A retake is only possible for the final essay, in case of an insufficient grade for a first essay. No other remaining course requirements should accompany a retake.

All exam dates (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the MA and MSc examination schedule.

Reading list

The reading list, consisting of articles and book chapters, 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.

  • The Administration Office registers all students for their exams, students are not required to do this in uSis.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.


For more information about this course, please contact dr. A. (Alex) Geurds.


Compulsory attendance.