Archaeology is the scientific study of past human behavior and societies from material remains of the earliest human ancestors to recent times. Students concentrating in archaeology should take at least one topical course and one regional course in archaeology. Students interested in graduate studies in archaeology should take a statistics course and have fieldwork experience that can be gained by enrolling in an archaeological field school through Dartmouth or another institution.


Reconstructing the Past: Introduction to Archaeology

Anthropological archaeology makes a unique contribution to understanding the human past. This course introduces the key concepts, methods and techniques used by modern archaeologists to interpret the past. Students will become better acquainted with archaeological methods through small projects and the discussion of case studies.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC.


The Rise and Fall of Prehistoric Civilizations

One of the most intriguing questions in the study of human societies is the origins of cities and states or the transformation from small kinship-based societies to large societies that are internally differentiated on the basis of wealth, political power, and economic specialization. Most of our knowledge of early civilizations comes from archaeology. This course examines the explanations proposed by archaeologists for the development of the first cities and state societies through a comparative study of early civilizations in both the Old World and the Americas.

(ARCH) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 11 (Identical to NAS 11)

Ancient Native Americans

This course provides an introduction to the ancient societies of North America. The course examines the populating of the Americas and related controversies. We then concentrate on the subsequent development of diverse pre-Columbian societies that included hunter-gatherer bands in the Great Basin, the Arctic, and the sub-Arctic; Northwest Coast chiefdoms; farmers of the Southwest, such as Chaco Canyon and the desert Hohokam; and the mound-builders of the Eastern Woodlands.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 13 (Identical to CLST 12.09)

Who Owns the Past?

Modern archaeology grew out of antiquarianism, imperialism, and the attempts of early collectors and scholars to look to the past for aesthetics, to construct identities, and to satisfy their curiosities. This course examines how these legacies influence contemporary archaeology, museum practices, and policies to manage cultural heritage. The central question will be explored utilizing the perspectives of the relevant actors: archaeologists, collectors, museums, developers, descendant communities, national and local governments, and the tourism industry.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

ANTH 21 (Identical to LACS 42)

The Aztecs

For nearly two thousand years the dominant political power in Middle America has resided in central Mexico. Mexico City, the capital of the empire of New Spain and of the modern nation-state of Mexico, lies over the remains of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. This course examines the development of the Aztec empire and the organization of Aztec society and religion, and the Spanish conquest of the Aztec. It ends with an introduction to Nahua society in the first century after conquest. We will also consider the varied perspectives of Aztec history offered by Nahua texts, archaeology, history, and art history.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 22 (Identical to LACS 43)

Olmecs, Maya, and Toltecs: Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica

When Europeans first arrived in what is today Mexico and Central America they encountered indigenous cities and empires that rivaled or surpassed in size those of Europe at the time.  This course provides a broad overview of the builders of these civilizations—the peoples of Mesoamerica—focusing on cultures such as the Maya and Toltecs, as well as their contemporaries and predecessors. It is designed to provide students with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture histories of these regions, as well as to engage important issues of social evolution and cross-cultural comparison studied by archaeologists. Topics include the arrival and persistence of native peoples; the origins of food production; the development of regional exchange networks; the rise of towns, temples, and urbanism; the origins of states and empires; and the resilience of native lifeways through the Conquest and Colonial periods. Students will be encouraged to contribute their own interests and background to class discussions.

(ARCH) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW.


Landscape Archaeology

Landscape archaeology seeks to better understand human history through the systematic exploration of large regions, documenting the age and distribution of ancient settlements and other features such as roads, canals, and field systems that are visible on the ground surface.  As opposed to focusing on individual sites, landscape archaeology provides a regional perspective on the ancient world and is therefore uniquely capable of revealing past trends in population, the density and distribution of settlement over time, and the ways that ancient peoples interacted with and understood their environments.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC.



Archaeology of the Middle East

This course provides an introduction to the civilizations of the ancient Near East and to the history of archaeological research in this important region. Encompassing the modern nations of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel/Palestine, the Near East saw the emergence of the world’s first villages, cities, and empires, and is therefore central to our understanding of human history. Following an overview of its geography, this course offers a survey of Near Eastern cultural development, art, and archaeology from the earliest evidence of human settlement around 13,000 BC to the conquest of the region by Alexander the Great.

(ARCH) Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW.

ANTH 50.03

Digital Archaeology

The course will examine how digital technologies, particularly in the geospatial realm, are transforming the ways in which we discover, explore, and interpret the human past.  Students will investigate archaeological questions while learning both the art and science of rapidly developing software, instruments, and techniques.   The first unit of the class explores regional-scale archaeological problems and the use of aerial and satellite imaging, and GIS-based spatial analysis.  We then turn to site-based investigations using archaeological geophysics, photogrammetry, and drones.  The final weeks of the class turn to 3D modeling, visualization, and immersive archaeological realties.  Each Tuesday meeting will be devoted to a lecture on the weekly topic and discussion of readings, while Thursday meetings will be devoted to hands-on lab activities.

(ARCH) Dist: TAS

ANTH 50.05

Environmental Archaeology

Archaeological sites preserve not just architectural and artifactual remains, but important clues to how people lived in and acted on their environment. In this course we will explore the types of data used to reconstruct ancient environments and examine theoretical approaches to human-environment relationships. Through case studies, we will confront contentious issues in environmental archaeology and learn how archaeologists integrate the archaeological record with data from history, biology, and geosciences.

(ARCH) Dist: SLA.

ANTH 50.37

Archaeologies of Religion

Most of humanity's religious history is only accessible using archaeological evidence. Moreover, even where texts are available, they tend to reflect the perspective of elites. This course therefore explores how archaeological methods can help us better understand religious phenomena in past societies. Topics will include the religion (or lack thereof) of our hominid ancestors (e.g. Neanderthals), the state religions of ancient civilizations, and the complementary perspective that archaeology provides on the World Religions.

(ARCH) Dist: None

ANTH 50.39

Alcohol in the Ancient World

This lecture and discussion-based course provides an introduction to the production and consumption of beer, wine, and other fermented beverages across the ancient world. We will explore the full range of available source material – written evidence, physical remains, artistic representations, ethnographic accounts, and experimental archaeology – to develop an account of alcohol as a uniquely potent form of material culture that was embedded within complex webs of social, political, economic, and ritual activity.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC

ANTH 50.45

Archaeology of Epidemics

In this course, we will study the effects of epidemics and pandemics on different cultures throughout history. Towards this end, we will examine how art and design have served to forge community bonds; how visual culture has changed in times of crisis; and how communities across the world, in different times and spaces, eventually find resilience in fundamentally altered worlds.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC

ANTH 50.47

Archaeological Field Methods: Digging Dartmouth

Through investigations on and around Dartmouth's campus, this class provides a hands-on introduction to archaeological field and lab methods, as well as to the archaeology of New England. Students will participate in survey and excavation of historic building sites on Dartmouth's campus, as well as on curation and analysis of artifacts.

(ARCH) Dist: SLA

ANTH 50.50

Archaeology of Food

n this course, we will explore the theoretical and methodological approaches that archaeologists use to study food and eating in ancient societies from a global anthropological perspective. This course assumes no prior familiarity with archaeology; rather, it is designed to introduce you to the basic methods and theoretical structures employed to study the archaeological remains of food and drink.



Ecology, Culture, and Environment

Culminating experience.

Anthropology's interest in the interactions of humans and their environments has been long-standing, especially in archaeology. In this seminar we will consider changing conceptual frameworks for understanding human-environmental interactions and long-standing debates about nature vs. culture, materialist vs. symbolic approaches, the development of cultural ecology, and the new "ecologies." We will draw on the research of archaeologists, biological and sociocultural anthropologists, geographers, and historians.

(ARCH) Dist: SOC.