Archaeological Studies

10 Sachem Street, 203.432.3670

Chair and Director of Graduate Studies
Richard Burger (Anthropology)

Professors Richard Burger (Anthropology), Edward Cooke, Jr. (History of Art; American Studies), John Darnell (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Stephen Davis (Religious Studies; History), Eckart Frahm (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations), Diana Kleiner (Classics; History of Art), J.G. Manning (Classics; History), Roderick McIntosh (Anthropology), Mary Miller (History of Art), Eric Sargis (Anthropology; Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), Ronald Smith (Geology & Geophysics; Forestry & Environmental Studies), Anne Underhill (Anthropology), David Watts (Anthropology), Harvey Weiss (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations; Forestry & Environmental Studies)

Associate Professors Milette Gaifman (History of Art; Classics), William Honeychurch (Anthropology)

Assistant Professors Oswaldo Chinchilla (Anthropology), Andrew Johnston (Classics; History), Brian Wood (Anthropology)

Lecturers, Research Associates, and Research Scientists Karen Foster (Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations; History of Art), Ellery Frahm (Anthropology), Lucy Salazar (Anthropology), David Sensabaugh (Art Gallery), Catherine Skinner (Geology & Geophysics

The aims of the program are to give students the academic background needed for careers in museums, cultural resource management, and teaching in community colleges and secondary schools. It also provides the opportunity for teachers, curators, and administrators to refresh themselves on recent developments in archaeology. In addition, the program allows some of our students to strengthen their background in archaeology before applying to Ph.D. programs. The program is administered by Yale’s Council on Archaeological Studies, with faculty from the departments of Anthropology, Classics, Geology & Geophysics, History, History of Art, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, and Religious Studies.

Special Admissions Requirements

The GRE General Test; an archaeology background is recommended but not required.

Special Requirements for the M.A. Degree

Courses are drawn from the graduate programs of the participating departments and from those undergraduate courses that are also open to graduate students. Eight courses are required. Unless previously taken for credit, these will include the archaeological laboratory overview; at least one additional laboratory course; a course related to archaeology in two of the following three groups: (1) Anthropology; (2) Classics, History, History of Art, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, or Religious Studies; (3) Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Forestry & Environmental Studies, or Geology & Geophysics; and four electives. All students are required to participate in an approved summer field project. In addition, each student will write a master’s thesis. Degree candidates are required to pay a minimum of one year of full tuition. Full-time students can complete the course requirements in one academic year, and all students are expected to complete the program within a maximum period of three academic years.

For further information, visit the Archaeological Studies website, Inquiries may be directed to Director of Graduate Studies, c/o Registrar, Archaeological Studies, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, PO Box 208277, New Haven CT 06520-8277, or via e-mail,


ARCG 531b / ANTH 531b / CLSS 815b / CPLT 547b / HIST 502b / JDST 653b / NELC 533b / RLST 803b, Slavery, Dependency, and Genocide in the Ancient and Premodern WorldNoel Lenski and Benedict Kiernan

Covers the subject of class and ethnic repression from the third millennium B.C.E. to the mid-second millennium C.E. Analyzes textual, epigraphic, and iconographic sources for slavery, dependency, and genocide in Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Han, Germanic, Angkorian, Vietnamese, Burmese, Malay, Mayan, and Aztec cultures.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 579b / ANTH 579b, Directing Archaeological ExcavationsRoderick McIntosh

Directing an archaeological excavation is one of the most complex and fraught tasks that an archaeologist will ever face. From estimating budgets, to labor relations, to massaging egos of specialists, to establishing good relations with local communities—is it any wonder that many directors long for the days when they themselves could just dig! Little wonder, then, that Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s description of his paramilitary excavations rings, if not true, then nostalgic. This course reviews the many pieces that must come together, from project conceptualization through laboratory analysis, tailored for graduate students who will soon be directing their own field research.
W 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 636a / ANTH 636a / G&G 636a, Geoarchaeology: Earth and Environmental Sciences in Archaeological InvestigationsEllery Frahm

A survey of the numerous ways in which theories, approaches, techniques, and data from the earth and environmental sciences are used to address archaeological research questions. A range of interfaces between archaeology and the geological sciences are considered. Topics include stratigraphy, geomorphology, site formation processes, climate reconstruction, site location, and dating techniques.
MW 2:30pm-3:45pm

ARCG 646a, Three Thousand Years of Mexican Feasting: 1500 B.C.E. to 1519 C.E.Mary Miller and Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

This course sits at the cusp of anthropology and art history, considered through the lens of the most central of human activities, the consumption of food. Feasting was integral to the prehispanic peoples of Mesoamerica, who domesticated and cultivated maize, beans, chocolate, vanilla, tomatoes, chilies, and squashes, and served dogs, ducks, and turkeys on the most festive of occasions. They developed special ceramics, from elaborate tamale plates to tall chocolate pots, for ritual service, some of which then became assemblages with which to honor the dead, and sometimes preserving a performance otherwise not visible in the present. In this course, the role of food both as object of ritual and performance and as subject is examined. Seasonal celebrations, as documented in the sixteenth-century Florentine Codex, are examined alongside painted and sculpted representations of food and its rituals. Cross-cultural consideration of the feast as a conceptual category that ranges from the potlatch of the Northwest Coast peoples to modern Day of the Dead practice helps shape class discussion of Mesoamerican feasting before European contact, as does study of gender and the spatial settings of consumption. The problem of sampling and identification is considered through scientific study and practice, and vessels in New Haven and New York are explored for potential residues.
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

ARCG 701a / CLSS 875a / HSAR 568a, Cleopatra: A Legend for All TimeDiana Kleiner

The life of a queen who became a celebrity and remains a legend serves as the starting point for an exploration of art and architecture produced in Egypt and Rome during the late Hellenistic period and early Roman Empire. Cleopatra was antiquity's greatest female star and one of the most famous women who ever lived. While the full panorama of her life is forever lost, Cleopatra comes alive in surviving works of ancient art and other remains of what was once an opulent material culture. Every generation has its own Cleopatra, and the mythical Egyptian queen's reinvention in later art, literature, and film is also considered. Qualified undergraduates who have taken Roman Art: Empire, Identity, and Society; Roman Architecture; or eClavdia: Women in Ancient Rome, may be admitted with permission of the instructor.
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 702b / ANTH 702b, Archaeological Approaches to Art and IconographyOswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

An examination of archaeological approaches to the study of artistic representations in archaeology, focusing on the analysis of style and iconographic interpretations. Case studies are drawn from Precolumbian art, particularly Moche art of Peru and Maya art of Mesoamerica.
T 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 707a / ANTH 707a, Origins of Complex Society in West AfricaRoderick McIntosh

Using original readings of site reports and primary source articles, we explore the great diversity of expressions of emerging complexity in prehistoric West Africa.
T 2:30pm-4:20pm

ARCG 716Lb, Introduction to Archaeological Laboratory SciencesRoderick McIntosh and Eckart Frahm

Introduction to techniques of archaeological laboratory analysis, with quantitative data styles and statistics appropriate to each. Topics include dating of artifacts, sourcing of ancient materials, remote sensing, and microscopic and biochemical analysis. Specific techniques covered vary from year to year.
W 2:30pm-5:30pm

ARCG 726a / ANTH 726a, Ancient Civilizations of the Eurasian SteppesWilliam Honeychurch

Peoples of the steppe zone, stretching from Eastern Europe to Mongolia, have played a pivotal role in Old World prehistory, though much about their societies and lifeways is still shrouded in mystery. The archaeology of this macro-region has developed rapidly since the 1990s, and this course presents an overview of major topics and debates in the region based on what archaeologists currently know about Eurasian steppe societies of the past.
W 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 736b / ANTH 736b, Advanced Topics in Asian ArchaeologyWilliam Honeychurch

This seminar reviews the archaeology of Asia of the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs with emphasis on East, Southeast, and South Asia. Asian archaeology remains little known to most Western researchers, although some of the earliest hominid remains and some of the most powerful states are found in that part of the world. The course emphasizes the particularities of Asian cultural sequences, while illustrating how processes in these sequences compare to those found elsewhere in the world. The diverse Asian record provides a basis for refining key concepts in anthropological archaeology, including domestication, inequality and hierarchy, heterarchy, and complexity. Topics to be covered include history and theory in Asian archaeology; the Pleistocene and paleolithic record of Asia; origins of plant and animal domestication; early farming communities; models of complexity; and early states and empires.
F 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 748a / ANTH 748a, Contemporary Archaeological TheoryRichard Burger

This seminar explores contemporary theory in all of its diversity. The course examines multiple critiques of New Archaeology and its remaining legacy; the diversity of competing approaches, sometimes called postprocessualist, currently employed in the United States and the United Kingdom, including critical archaeology, the archaeology of gender, structuralist approaches, various Marxist and neo-Marxist formulations of archaeological theory, and applications of evolutionary theory; as well as the differing trajectory of approaches outside the English-speaking world.
MW 1pm-2:15pm

ARCG 750a / ANTH 750a, Analysis of Lithic TechnologyOswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos

This course provides an introduction to the analysis of the chipped and ground stone tools found on archaeological sites. As a laboratory course, it includes hands-on instruction: we learn how to manufacture chipped stone tools out of obsidian. We begin by reviewing the development of chipped and ground stone tool technology from the earliest simple pebble tools to historical period tools. We discuss the relevance of lithics research to issues of subsistence, craft specialization, and trade. We also discuss how these artifacts are recorded, analyzed, and drawn, and we review related studies such as sourcing and use-wear analysis.
Th 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 756b / ANTH 756b, Regional Exchange SystemsRichard Burger

The course considers archaeological examination of exchange systems from a broad perspective. The first part involves examination of ethnographic and historic information about variation in types of exchange, as well as theoretical approaches that have been used to understand early exchange systems. Then the class discusses archaeological methods to determine evidence for exchange of goods at the local and regional levels on the basis of settlement data and information from compositional analysis. Archaeological case studies from more than one world area are examined. Open to advanced undergraduates.
M 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 759a / ANTH 759a, Social Complexity in Ancient ChinaAnne Underhill

This seminar explores the variety of archaeological methods and theoretical approaches that have been employed to investigate the development and nature of social complexity in ancient China. The session meetings focus on the later prehistoric and early historic periods, and several geographic regions are included. They also consider how developments in ancient China compare to other areas of the world. Most of the readings emphasize archaeological remains, although relevant information from early historical texts is considered.
T 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 762b / EMD 548b / G&G 562b, Observing Earth from SpaceRonald Smith

A practical introduction to satellite image analysis of Earth's surface. Topics include the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, satellite-borne radiometers, data transmission and storage, computer image analysis, the merging of satellite imagery with GIS and applications to weather and climate, oceanography, surficial geology, ecology and epidemiology, forestry, agriculture, archaeology, and watershed management.
TTh 9am-10:15am

ARCG 773b / ANTH 773b / NELC 588b, Abrupt Climate Change and Societal CollapseHarvey Weiss

Collapse documented in the archaeological and early historical records of the Old and New Worlds, including Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, the Andes, and Europe. Analysis of politicoeconomic vulnerabilities, resiliencies, and adaptations in the face of abrupt climate change, anthropogenic environmental degradation, resource depletion, "barbarian" incursions, or class conflict.
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm

ARCG 780b / ANTH 780b, Archaeology of ReligionRichard Burger

The course explores archaeological approaches to the study of religion. While the term "religion" is hard to define, it is generally agreed that religious phenomena occur in almost all cultures and that this realm played a significant part in most prehistoric cultures. In order to provide a broad vision of this theme, the course begins by considering influential schools of thought on the definition, origins, and social significance of religious behavior. The course then reviews a variety of methods that scholars may use to reconstruct ancient beliefs and rituals. The course assesses the applicability and success of these methodologies across the broad spectrum of ancient cultures representing differing degrees of sociopolitical complexity. Finally, we explore case studies from a diverse range of ancient societies and consider the impact of religious behaviors within their broader cultural contexts.
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

ARCG 785a / ANTH 785a, Archaeological Ceramics IAnne Underhill

Ceramics are a rich source of information about a range of topics including ancient technology, cooking practices, craft specialization, regional trade, and religious beliefs. This course provides a foundation for investigating such topics and gaining practical experience in archaeological analysis of ceramics. Students have opportunities to focus on ceramics of particular interest to them, whether these are low-fired earthen wares, or porcelains. We discuss ancient pottery production and use made in diverse contexts ranging from households in villages to workshops in cities. In addition we refer to the abundant ethnoarchaeological data about traditional pottery production.
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

ARCG 791a / ANTH 791a, Paleoclimate and Human ResponseRoderick McIntosh

Explores the recursive interaction of climate change with human perception and manipulation of the landscape. Combines a primer on mechanisms and measures of climate change with three case studies of historical response to change at different scales.
M 9:25am-11:15am

ARCG 844a / CLSS 848a / HSAR 831a, Ancient Greek FestivalsJessica Lamont and Carolyn Laferriere

One of the most prominent expressions of ancient Greek piety was the festival, in which poetry was sung, athletic and artistic contests were held, animals sacrificed, and group identities negotiated and reaffirmed. In the Archaic and Classical periods, festivals could be minor, local, single-day undertakings, or weeklong, multi-city affairs; yet in each instance, they were an expression of communal identity, competition, and devotion to the gods. Poetry and sculpture served to commemorate these events long after the festival itself had passed, and early literary genres and artistic styles took root within and developed alongside the festivals, gods, and individuals whom they were intended to commemorate. Bringing together literary, archaeological, art historical, and anthropological evidence, this interdisciplinary seminar considers Archaic and Classical Greek festivals within their social, historical, and religious contexts. We pay particular attention to the literary and historical texts (hymns, the "recension" of Homeric epic in festival contexts, Attic tragedy and comedy, epinician, etc.) and the visual representations that commemorate and describe the major festivals in Greece, as well as to the particular ways that festivals exploited visual, olfactory, auditory, tactile, or gustatory reactions in their worshippers to provoke specific interactions with the divine.
Th 3:30pm-5:20pm

ARCG 864b / ANTH 864b, Human OsteologyEric Sargis

A lecture and laboratory course focusing on the characteristics of the human skeleton and its use in studies of functional morphology, paleodemography, and paleopathology. Laboratories familiarize students with skeletal parts; lectures focus on the nature of bone tissue, its biomechanical modification, sexing, aging, and interpretation of lesions.
TTh 1pm-2:15pm