ANTH 110

Welcome to Introduction to Archaeology


Uxmal (Yucatec Maya: Óoxmáal)

The discipline of archaeology involves the study of past societies, their practices and behaviors deduced by the analysis and interpretation of their material remains. It is therefore our only access to the three million years of human history before writing. This course is an introduction to method and theory in anthropological archaeology, with consideration of selected case studies.


The course begins with an introduction to the history of the discipline and then focuses on archaeological methods and theory to provide a background to the practice of archaeology.  Students will learn concepts, methods and techniques required in archaeological excavation and the analysis of material remains.  They will have the opportunity to research and discuss problems in anthropological archaeology.

The latter half of the course will take the students through a review of some of the major archaeological discoveries of modern times. This will provide a unique opportunity to review past surveys and excavations and to evaluate and critique past efforts in light of current archaeological theory and practice.


Learning Outcomes:

Archaeological dig

Archaeological dig at Castle Howard in Yorkshire UK

Students in this class will be able……

  1. To define basic archaeological concepts such as sampling, stratigraphy, seriation, absolute and relative dating and cultural resource management.
  2. To describe dating techniques in archaeology; the necessary conditions and materials, temporal constraints, environmental factors and which techniques are applicable to different situations.
  3. To explain site formation processes
  4. To discuss archaeological knowledge about major trends in prehistory, such as the nature of transitions from foraging to farming and mobility to sedentism, the evolution of modern human thought and behavior and the origins and development of centralized and hierarchical societies.
  5. To articulate the reasons why it is important to study the past and the ethics of preserving, managing, interpreting, and studying archaeological and historical sites.
  6. To develop research questions and research designs (including survey, excavation and artifact analysis) to answer those questions.
  7. To relate archaeological evidence to narratives about past ways of life
  8. To derive and analyze archaeological data collected from sites the importance of provenience.
  9. To evaluate arguments made about archaeological data and make informed evidence based interpretations.
  10. To apply information obtained from research to effectively communicate the significance of archaeological discoveries both written and orally to diverse audiences.