Archaeology is a subfield of anthropology that examines the ancient and recent human past through material remains. It is a subfield of anthropology, the study of all human culture. From artifacts found with fossilized remains of our earliest human ancestors in Africa dating to millions of years ago, to 20th century buildings in urban or rural Oregon, archaeology analyzes the physical remains of the past in pursuit of a broad and comprehensive understanding of human cultures. At the University of Oregon, archaeology is practiced by a diverse group of faculty and students working in North America, the Pacific Rim, Pacific Islands, East Asia, and the Mediterranean region. We study a broad array of topics including settlement of the Americas, colonization of the Pacific Islands, the archaeology and historical ecology of islands and coastal regions, fishing societies, transitions to agriculture, and emergence of social inequality. We examine the effects of economic, environmental, cultural, and evolutionary factors on subsistence, social structure, ethnicity, and gender in archaeological contexts, and how humans adapted, influenced, and altered their natural and social environments. We are interested in issues surrounding the management of archaeological sites and cultural heritage, and the relationship between indigenous and minoritized groups and archaeology. We foster indigenous scholarship and promote collaborative relationships with tribal and local community stakeholders.
The archaeology program maintains strong linkages with the Museum of Natural and Cultural History and other units on campus, such as the CAMCOR lab, the comprehensive materials characterization center at the University of Oregon. We collaborate with our colleagues in other anthropological subfields (see Areas of Departmental Expertise) and with scientists around the world. Methodologically the program is strong in archaeological science and archaeometry and includes laboratories for archaeobotany, zooarchaeology, stable isotope analysis, and ceramic technology.
Undergraduate Program in Archaeology
The undergraduate program in archaeology offers a wide range of introductory and advanced classes. The core introductory course in the subfield is ANTH 150, World Archaeology, which is required for all majors. For those who wish to specialize in archaeology, ANTH 340, Fundamentals of Archaeology, is a key course to take. Other 300-level courses offered by the department (ANTH 343 [Pacific Islands Archaeology], Anth 344 [Oregon Archaeology], Anth 350 [Ancient Mesoamerica], Anth 352 [Ancient Maya]) are taken by both majors and non-majors. Upper division courses are offered on a variety of topics, some are areal in emphasis (Anth 440 [Old World Prehistory], Anth 442 [Northwest Coast Archaeology], Anth 443 [North American Archaeology], Anth 399 [Archaeology of East Asia]), while others are methodological (Anth 445 [Landscape Archaeology], Anth 449 [Cultural Resource Management], Anth 451 [Ethnoarchaeology], Anth 471 [Zooarchaeology], Anth 410 [Archaeobotany], Anth 399 [Environmental Archaeology]).
A list of archaeology courses, organized by instructor, can be found below. In addition to regular courses, individual archaeology faculty often offer individualized, independent study courses or research experiences to advanced undergraduate students. For further information, students are encouraged to contact relevant archaeology faculty. Students may also obtain additional information on undergraduate opportunities from Head Undergraduate Advisor Professor Diane Baxter.
The graduate program in archaeology includes both Master’s and Ph.D. students. We encourage students to apply whose interests overlap with those of our faculty. Applicants should read publications written by faculty members to investigate our research in more depth. The webpages of individual faculty members list publications that can be pursued. Students with Master’s degrees from our program have found good jobs with government agencies and private contractors involved in cultural resource management. Students who are interested in completing a Ph.D. in Archaeology typically first complete the Master’s degree (either an M.S. or M.A.) before proceeding onto the Ph.D. program or arrive at UO with a Master’s in Anthropology or a related discipline. Additional details of the program can be found in the Graduate Handbook.
Prospective students are encouraged to contact relevant faculty before applying into the graduate program.
Current Research Projects
Lectures Series and Discussion Groups