Archaeology – the study of the human past – is a vibrant field of study at Harvard, with faculty, programs and facilities located in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Natural Sciences. Students may draw upon a multitude of disciplines to further their interest in studying and understanding the human past either at the level of a major, within any one of several disciplines, or to pursue work at the level of a Secondary Field in Archaeology. This website will help students identify the many resources and programs offering course work and research opportunities in the archaeology of ancient societies around the world.
Archaeology explains when, how and why things happened in the past. Archaeologists document patterns of change and variability through time and space and relate these changes to the world around us today. In broader terms, archaeological research involves the discovery, description and analysis of technological adaptation, social organization, artistic production, ideology and other forms of human expression through the study of material remains recovered from the excavation of sites that were used or settled by past peoples.
The formal study of archaeology prepares students to evaluate critically the record of human material production and to develop informed perspectives on the ways the past is presented, interpreted, and dealt with by a wide range of actors - from interested individuals to nation-states - in societies around the world today. Archaeologists carry out basic research in the field and in museum collections and increasingly deal with such topics as cultural resource management, cultural tourism, nationalistic uses and abuses of the past, the depiction of the past in the media, the illegal trade in antiquities, repatriation of cultural patrimony, and environmental and climatic change.
Advising Resources and Expectations
For more information, please contact the Secondary Field Adviser in Archaeology, Prof. Jason Ur at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students interested in or intending to pursue a secondary field in Archaeology should first review their programs of study with SCA Coordinator by emailing email@example.com by the beginning of their next to last semester.
In addition to the required introductory course, a student may count only one additional introductory course from the above list for the secondary field.
Students pursuing a secondary field in Archaeology are strongly encouraged to participate in an archaeological field school in the U.S. or abroad. There are currently two summer archaeological field schools in Latin America taught by Harvard faculty, as well as one field course in the Archaeology of Harvard Yard given every other academic year. Students who complete a Harvard-sponsored or a pre-approved off-campus archaeological field school may count one half-course credit from that field school experience toward completion of the secondary field. Students enrolling in a Harvard or Harvard-approved off-campus study program may seek pre-approval from the Chair of the Standing Committee on Archaeology to have one class on that study program counted. Click here for a complete list of field schools which may be used together with the google map showing research done by Harvard archaeology faculty and graduate students. Travel and funding resources are available here.
The listing below is a compilation of courses in which the practice of archaeology is taught or the use of archaeological information is integral. The interested student is urged to consult the full listings of the various departments for related courses, relevant undergraduate tutorials, and graduate-level reading courses. The courses listed below are ordinarily acceptable for the Secondary Field in Archaeology with the approval of the Secondary Field Adviser. Additional courses including courses in other departments may also be deemed acceptable. See the handbook for more information.
Societies of the World 38. Pyramid Schemes: The Archaeological History of Ancient Egypt [Spring]
Societies of the World 40. The Incas: The Last Great Empire of Pre-Columbian South America [Spring]
Societies of the World 41. Medieval Europe [Spring]
Anthropology 92xr. Archaeological Research Methods in Museum Collections [Spring]
Anthropology 1010. The Fundamentals of Archaeological Methods & Reasoning [Fall]
Anthropology 1202. Forensic Anthropology: CSI Harvard [Spring]
Anthropology 2020. GIS & Spatial Analysis In Archaeology [Spring]
Classical Archaeology 101. Roman Antiquity [Spring]
History of Art and Architecture 197. The Imperial Arts of the Inca and the Aztec [Spring]
Human Evolutionary Biology 1540. Human Migration [Fall]
Ancient Near East 117. Biblical Archaeology [Fall]
Ancient Near East 219. Ancient Warfare in the Near East: An Archaeological Perspective [Spring]