Program Offerings

Offering type

The Program in Archaeology is designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary foundation in archaeology — the study of the material remains of the past — and to equip students to use archaeological evidence in other fields of inquiry. The program offers courses that cover many cultures and periods, including Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Rome and the Americas. It encourages a deep integration of the humanities, the sciences and engineering, and promotes awareness of issues of cultural heritage. 

Once subfields of ancient art or ancient history, archaeology today embraces anthropological approaches as well as the physical and social sciences. Technology has transformed the practice of archaeology, with tools such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR), geographic information system (GIS), and photogrammetry, offering new insights. Yet archaeology is not just concerned with uncovering and understanding the past; it is also devoted to protecting it. Rampant looting and the destruction of sites have placed archaeologists at the forefront of discussions on cultural heritage. Many of the program courses, therefore, including the required methods course (ART 401), highlight ethical and political dimensions of archaeology.

Goals for Student Learning

The learning goals in the Program in Archaeology include the following:

  • To familiarize students with the primary developments and debates in the history of the field of archaeology, from the use of archaeology as a tool for cultural history, to major changes in archaeological science, to the notion of material culture as “text.”
  • To introduce students to key theoretical debates, both past and current, to equip them to understand secondary literature so they may position themselves and their research within ongoing discussions.
  • To offer or facilitate opportunities for students to engage in archaeological fieldwork.
  • To engage students with the ethical implications involved in the gathering and assessment of archaeological evidence in its many different sociopolitical contexts (ancient and modern).
  • To train students to critically interpret the finds from archaeological sites, including assessment of archaeological methods, awareness of the implications of how findings are disseminated, and consideration of project goals and presumptions.
  • To introduce students to the various possibilities for preserving and protecting cultural heritage, from legal frameworks to non-invasive remote sensing to community engagement.
  • To introduce students to the evolving interdisciplinary nature of archaeology, and teach them to develop and adopt a lifelong learning attitude so that they can remain effective in their archaeology-related endeavors and beyond.

Admission to the Program

The program is open to all majors. Students ideally should apply to the program during their sophomore year, but may join it at any time during their undergraduate career. They may apply through the art and archaeology website, or by writing to the program director.

In order to gain admission, a student must have taken any one of the courses offered by the program (see list below). Appropriate freshman seminars or writing seminars may fulfill the requirement, with the program director's approval.

Program of Study

The program aims to provide a broad introduction to the field of archaeology and to allow students to pursue archaeological interests that complement their research in other disciplines. The core course and fieldwork requirements ensure breadth and provide a theoretical and methodological foundation for further study. The remaining courses should be selected in consultation with the program director and students' department advisers, so that students may tailor their study to their other coursework. 

The plan of study consists of four elements: one core course, fieldwork or its equivalent, four additional courses, and independent research. One course may be taken pass/D/fail, with the exception of ART 401. Students may double-count up to two courses toward the certificate and their major.

  1. Students take one core course: ART 401: Introduction to Archaeology.
  2. Students participate in fieldwork.

ART 304: Archaeology in the Field or its equivalent

“Fieldwork” is not limited to excavation, although the program strongly encourages participation in a formal field school program. Sustained engagement in any aspect of an archaeological project fulfills the obligation. Students may, for example, assist in a geophysical survey, participate in a surface survey, work in archaeological archives, or intern for a zoologist. Fieldwork must be preapproved by the program director, last for at least four weeks, and include at least 100 hours of work. Financial support for fieldwork is available; to be immediately eligible, students must either be enrolled in the Program in Archaeology, or have taken at least two courses that count toward the certificate. Students who are not immediately eligible might be awarded financial support upon completion of an interview with the program director.

  1. Students take an additional four courses. Two courses must be approved as being in ancient area, at least one of which must be offered in the Department of Art and Archaeology in the ancient area (the “Group 1” for the history of art majors). Two other courses may or may not qualify as being ancient area, and at least one course must be outside of the Department of Art and Archaeology (see the list below). Approved freshman seminars may count toward the four courses. A freshman seminar taught by a faculty member in the Department of Art and Archaeology may not count for the required course outside of the department. 
  2. Students undertake independent research, which may take one of three forms: (1) a senior thesis with a substantial archaeological component; (2) a junior paper on an archaeological topic; (3) a 25-page research paper on an archaeological topic. 

Only senior theses are eligible for the Frederick Barnard White Prize in Archaeology.


Language Requirements

The acquisition of languages that may assist in research (e.g., German or French) or in fieldwork is strongly recommended, but not required.

Study Abroad

The fieldwork requirement offers an ideal opportunity for students to participate in summer study abroad, and the executive committee can recommend many summer study opportunities. 

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who complete the requirements of the program with satisfactory standing receive a certificate of proficiency in archaeology.


Additional Information

Courses (most of the following are cross-listed):

Note that courses presented below might not be offered every year. Please consult the Registrar’s website to learn which courses are offered in the semester of interest.

ANT 201 Introduction to Anthropology

ANT 206 / AFS 206 Human Evolution


ARC 308 / ART 328 History of Architectural Theory


ART 102 / ARC 102 An Introduction to the History of Architecture

ART 203 Roman Art (ancient course)

ART 304 Archaeology in the Field 

ART 309 / CLA 309 The Romans' Painted World (ancient course)

ART 316 / HLS 316 / CLA 213 The Formation of Christian Art

ART 361 / HIS 355 / MED 361 / HUM 361 The Art and Archaeology of Plague

ART 365 / LAS 370 / ANT 365 Olmec Art (ancient course)

ART 389 / GSS 390 / EAS 389 Women and Gender in Chinese Art

ART 401 / HLS 405 Introduction to Archaeology

ART 411 / CLA 413 / HLS 413 Greek and Roman Portraits (ancient course)

ART 412 / CLA 412 / HLS 407 Ancient Greek Pottery

ART 431 / MED 431 Art, Culture, and Identity in Medieval Spain

ART 447 / HLS 445 / ARC 440 Siegecraft: Architecture, Warfare, and Media

ART 478 / HIS 476 / HUM 476 / MED 476 The Vikings: History and Archaeology

ART 488 The Modern Museum: Between Preservation and Action

ART 518 / CLA 531 / HLS 539 The Roman Villa (ancient course)


CEE 538 / ART 538 Holistic Analysis of Heritage Structures


CLA 548 / HLS 548 / PAW 548 / ART 532 Problems in Ancient History: Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Numismatics


EAS 518 / HIS 532 Qing History: Chinese Technology and Material Culture in Late Imperial China 1600–1900

EAS 279 / HIS 276 The Qin Dynasty and the Beginnings of Empire in China (ancient course)


EEB 332 / LAS 350 Pre-Columbian Peoples of Tropical America and Their Environments


GEO 203 / ENE 203 The Habitable Planet

GEO 103 Natural Disasters

GEO 370 / ENV 370 / CEE 370 Sedimentology

GEO 378 / MSE 348 Mineralogy


HIS 390 Formations of Knowledge: Historical Approaches to Science, Technology, and Medicine


HUM 402 / MED 403 / HIS 457 Making the Viking Age

HUM 412 / CLA 417 / HIS 475 / HLS 406 Digging for the Past: Archaeology from Ancient Greece to Modern America

JDS 224 / REL 217 The Power of Images in Late Antiquity: Jewish Art in Its Historical Contexts


URB 390 / ARC 390 / HUM 362 African Urban History


  • Director

    • Nathan T. Arrington
    • Branko Glisic
  • Executive Committee

    • Nathan T. Arrington, Art and Archaeology
    • Caroline Cheung, Classics
    • Branko Glisic, Civil and Environmental Eng
    • Samuel Holzman, Art and Archaeology
    • Elizabeth Niespolo, Geosciences
    • Marina Rustow, Near Eastern Studies
    • Frederik J. Simons, Geosciences
  • Sits with Committee

    • Peter I. Bogucki
    • Janet E. Kay

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.