Institute of Archaeology

World Archaeology: an outline of the deep history of human societies

This version of the 'World Archaeology' course is only available to those enrolled for the BA in Archaeology and Anthropology

The course begins with the evolution of hominins, and human dispersal to all parts of the world. The changes brought about in the Holocene by climate change, transitions to settled life, cultivation and livestock domestication are then considered, and explanations for these changes evaluated. Later developments in metallurgy, complex farming, long-range trade and social complexity lead up to the rise of the first urban states of Mesopotamia and Egypt, and their wider impact.

The second part of the course focuses within a comparative framework on the later prehistoric and historic states, empires and civilizations of Eurasia, Africa and the Americas, and their expansion and periodic collapse. It also explores those parts of the planet immune to such processes until recent centuries, and closes with the consequences of early globalizing connections, plus a consideration of what the past tells us about our present predicament and future prospects.

Course information

For registered students


  • Runs every year

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